Bristol Sonics are aiming to kick-start the club’s 10th anniversary celebrations with a win over St Albans Centurions at Clifton RFC on Saturday (KO 2.30pm).September marks 10 years since the foundation of the Sonics at Horts pub in Bristol city centre, and long-serving captain Dom Swann wants his side to mark this important anniversary with a win in their final Conference League 3 match of the season.He said: “It would be fitting to start the club’s celebrations of our first decade with a win to end our first season in Rugby League’s national leagues. This season has in many ways reflected our journey over the last decade. We started poorly, lost a lot of games heavily, but have improved considerably. We’ve now won four out of the last five games and have been in terrific form, beating some of the top teams in the league and running others really close. It would be fitting to sign off with a win over St Albans.”
A late fightback from Conference League 3 heavyweights Warrington Wizards denied understrength Bristol Sonics a fifth straight win on Saturday.The Sonics, who traveled to the North West with an injury-ravaged squad and only two substit, came within five minutes of causing a huge upset at Wilderspool, one of British Rugby League’s most iconic stadiums.Bristol led for much of the game and looked like holding out for a remarkable victory, but a trio of tries in the closing stages, the last three minutes from time, allowed the title-chasing home side to sneak a 34-32 victory.The Sonics started brightly and soon raced in to a 10-0 lead thanks to tries from full back Elliot Nightingale and returning second rower Tom Verber, the latter converted by skipper Dom Swann. Warrington hit back to take the lead thanks to three unconverted tries, before Sonics second team captain Joe Singleton finished off a fineNightingale break to put Bristol back in front. Following heavy pressure, the home side scored a converted try on the stroke of half time to lead 18-16 at the break.
Bristol Sonics moved off the foot of the Conference League 3 table for the first time this season after notching up a memorable 24-42 win over South Wales Hornets at Blackwood RFC.It was Bristol’s fourth straight Conference League 3 victory, following memorable wins against Nottingham Outlaws, Bramley Buffaloes and, most impressively, runaway league leaders Hemel Stags.The victory over struggling South Wales, who now drop to the foot of the Conference League 3 table, came after a dazzling first half display in which Bristol played some of their best attacking rugby of the season. Although the Hornets produced a stirring performance in the second half, it was never going to be enough to overturn the Sonics 36-4 half time advantage.Bristol began brightly, prop Dan Brooker putting second-rower Jake Robertson through a gap straight from the kick-off. Robertson was hauled down 30 metres from the line, but it set the tone for an impressive opening period from the Sonics.Within five minutes Bristol were ahead, Gloucestershire University flier James Gahan finishing off a fine move instigated by Sonics skipper Dom Swann. Bristol’s longest serving player chipped over the Hornets right side defence on half way, collected and released Gahan with an audacious, one handed “round the back” offload. The winger did the rest, finishing in style. Swann added the first of seven successful conversions to put Bristol 6-0 ahead.It was to get better for the Sonics minutes later, as scrum half Johan Schoeman fooled the Hornets’ defence with an audacious dummy and ran 20 metres to touch down to the right of the posts. Swann again converted.By the 15 minute mark, the Sonics had extended their lead to 18 points as Elliot Nightingale went over following a strong carry from outstanding forward Wes Rodgers. Bristol, full of confidence following their shock victory over Hemel, were playing with the kind of go-forward and attacking fluidity previously lacking earlier in the season.Gahan in particular was a strong threat down the right hand side, his speed and broken field running proving too much for a South Wales team low on confidence. The Hornets first serious attack ended with a high crossfield kick aimed towards Gahan’s win. He plucked the ball out of the air brilliantly and set off on a 70 metre run towards the Hornets’ line. Although he was denied by a great last-gasp tackle by Ian Newbury, the ball was moved quickly to winger James Raymond, who dived over between the sticks to extend Bristol’s advantage.With Bristol on top, Sonics Head Coach Karl Fearnley freshened things up by throwing up two new prop forwards, Curtis Asante and Gary Carpenter. Both would have an enormous impact.Asante looked threatening every time he touched the ball and soon had a try of his own to celebrate. Collecting the ball on half way, he barged all-comers out of the way on a dominant sprint to the line. Although the Hornets tackling left a lot to be desired, much credit should be given to the young prop for the speed and strength he showed on his barnstorming run to the line.Bristol’s wonder half was completed when Asante’s fellow interchange prop, Gary Carpenter, collected an excellent offload from centre Andre Samura and trotted away to touch down from 30 metres out. This was to be Carpenter’s last game for the Sonics this season, after taking up the offer of a first contract with Bridgend rugby union. He certainly signed off in style.The Sonics fluffed a golden opportunity to bring up 40 points before half time before Steve Williams gave the home side some hope with a close range try seconds before the interval, but it did little to take the gloss off what had been a remarkable first half performance by Bristol.The second half proved to be a whole lot more difficult for the Sonics, who were unable to match the intensity and excellent completion rate they’d shown in the first. Errors by the visitors were plentiful, and a string of penalties for lazy indiscipline offered the Hornets the kind of possession and good field position they’d been lacking in the first half. Although Bristol largely defended well – hooker Harry Marson, second row Matt Douglas and the tireless Wes Rodgers leading the way – South Wales mounted a comeback which had the Sonics’ long-suffering supporters anxiously glancing at the scoreboard.From their first serious attacking position of the half, South Wales scored, Mike Hurley rising highest to claim a high cross-field kick from Paul Emanuelli. Further tries followed from Williams and Mike Hurley, but Bristol still held all the aces. With 12 minutes remaining Wales Students international Nathan Rainer broke free to score underneath the sticks to steady the Sonics nerves. Although Liam Watton scored for the Hornets a minute from time, it was too little, too late.
Bristol Sonics head coach Karl Fearnley has attempted to rally his troops ahead of Saturday’s Conference League 3 trip to Nottingham Outlaws.The Sonics sit bottom of Conference League 3 with just a single bonus point to their name, after six matches of their debut Conference League 3 season. Having narrowly lost to South Wales three weeks ago and put in a decent first half display against high-fliers Coventry Bears last Saturday, Fearnley is convinced that elusive first win of the season is just around the corner.Fearnley said: “It’s been very tough for us so far this season, but we expected that when we stepped up into the national leagues. It takes a while to adapt to the physical and mental demands of a higher intensity of rugby. Although we’ve had some serious beatings, there are things we are doing every week. The way we played against Kippax, South Wales and at times against Coventry shows that we can compete in this division. If we keep improving a little every week, wins will come.”Fearnley is expecting a tough game when his side takes in Nottingham Outlaws on Saturday on their home patch. He said: “The Outlaws are a very progressive club and one with vast experience at Conference League 3 and Rugby League Conference National level. They’ve had some mixed results this season, but they tend to score a lot of points. Last week they were beaten 42-32 in a thriller by South Wales, so they’ll be pumped up for Saturday’s game. I know our lads are determined to put things right after their awful second half against Coventry, so it could be a very good game. It will certainly be a hard game.”Saturday’s encounter will be the first between the sides. Fearnley is still without hooker Harry Marson after six weeks out through injury, but there could is be a recall for centre Dom Pullen. Scrum half Lewis Beer is expected to be fit after being forced off last week with concussion, while Wes Rodgers could switch from loose forward to prop to make way for Joe McKenna.Bristol Sonics face Nottingham Outlaws at Harvey Hadden on Saturday, June 9, kick-off 3.30pm. Supporters who wish to travel on the team coach are advised to contact the club via http://www.bristolsonics.com. Match updates will be available via http://www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL