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DEMONS DEFAULT BOOSTS SONICS SECONDS

Bristol Sonics’ second team will benefit from an influx of players this Saturday, following the cancellation of the first team’s game with Northampton Demons.

The Sonics’ firsts were due to play the Demons at Clifton RFC, Henbury, but Northampton have forfeited the game due to being unable to raise a side following a spate of injuries last weekend.

Instead, some of the Sonics’ first team stars, including many returning from injury or holidays, will boost the second team’s ranks as they travel to take on Old Patesians in the West of England League.

Sonics stalwarts Dom Swann, Wes Rodgers, Harry Marson, Daniel Brooker and Dan Evans are amongst the first team contingent due to lend a hand to the seconds on Saturday.

The second team have struggled at times this season, as a mix of youngsters and veterans have worked hard in often difficult circumstances against the league’s stronger sides. Old Patesians are on a good run, and have established themselves as title contenders thanks to an impressive run of  wins.

Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley said: “With the cancellation of the first team game, it gives us an opportunity to help out the second team lads and give them the support they’ve often been lacking this season. This is not about playing a first team in a second team standard league, it’s about giving players game time and our younger second team players a chance to learn off some of the more experienced lads.

“Although there will be some first team players involved, they are just there to support the core of the second team. Those lads will make up the backbone of the team, with some first team lads there as back up, on the interchange bench, to give them a rest.”

Following the cancellation of the Northampton game, the first team now don’t have a game until August 3.

Bristol Sonics A take on Old Patesians at Everest Road, Cheltenham, on Saturday 13th July, kick off 2.30pm.

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JUNIORS AWAY IN CHELTENHAM THIS SUNDAY

Bristol Sonics’ juniors will travel to Old Patesians in Cheltenham on Sunday (14th July), as they look to record their first wins of the season.

 

The Sonics’ under 14s and under 16s will be in action, facing the same strong Old Pats sides which beat them in Bristol last weekend.

 

Players and parents are asked to meet at Old Patesians’ Everest Road ground, Cheltenham (postcode: GL53 9LG) at 10am, with the first match due to kick off at 10.30am.

 

Directions to Old Pats’ ground are as follows:

 

“Leave M5 at Junction 11a signed Cirencester. Follow dual carriageway to first exit signed A46 Cheltenham/Stroud. Turn left at the end of the slip road, signed Cheltenham. Follow for approximately 2 miles into Shurdington. The Bell Inn is on the left, turn right opposite the pub (signed Leckhampton). Follow road mini roundabout at the end (T Junction), turn right, and after 50 yards turn left (John Wilkins Garage on the corner). Follow the road until the end, turn right and then immediately left into Everest Road. The ground is at the end of the road between two stone pillars.”

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BAD DAY FOR THE SONICS

Bristol Sonics endured a tough day at the office on Saturday, with both open age teams suffering heavy losses.

 

The first team, shorn of many regulars and forced to hand debuts to a string of second team players, was convincingly beaten 62-4 by Conference League South hotshots Sheffield Hallam Eagles, who were also missing several key players and traveled to Bristol with only 16 men.

 

The second team also struggled for numbers, and put in an admirable effort in a 66-14 loss to Somerset Vikings.

 

Special mention should go to Sonics’ players Freddie Blanks, Lee Bartlett and Mike Gaston, who played in both games, defying sweltering heat to do their bit for the cause. For Blanks and Bartlett, it was their first taste of first team rugby. They both put in a big stint against the odds.

 

The Sonics came into the game against Sheffield Hallam as leaders of Conference League South, but struggled to match the pace, power and intensity of their opponents.

 

Sheffield started confidently, and opened the scoring on six minutes when hooker Scott Smith dived over between the sticks, Tom Holt converting. The Sonics rallied, and on 16 minutes a marauding run from Daniel Brooker – forced to play for long spells at half back despite being a prop forward by trade – created the space for winger James Raymond to brush off his opposite number and sprint away to score. Alex Potts couldn’t add the extras.

 

It wasn’t long before Sheffield extended their lead. On 21 minutes, powerful centre Tom Ashton, building on momentum created by quick play-the-balls and clever running from Scott Smith, broke the Sonics’ line 40 metres out and jogged away to touch down.

 

Bristol were given a rare opportunity to attack Sheffield’s line when the Eagles made a hash of Daniel Brooker’s kick off, but the Sonics couldn’t make the most of the resultant set of six.

 

The Sonics were second best for much of the first half, but hung in the game impressively and kept Sheffield at bay for long periods. You couldn’t fault the home side’s effort or eagerness, and they showed great resolve to stick with an Eagles side that has beaten all-comers this season.

 

Despite these heroic efforts to stick with their opponents, who put on something of a masterclass in simple, tough, high-tempo Rugby League, it would only be a matter of time before Sheffield made their dominance count.

 

When they scored on the stroke of half time, Chris Cullimore finishing off a Corey Hanson break, it was a warning of what was to come.

 

Within six minutes of the restart, 18-4 had become 34-4. Sheffield scored from their first set of six, Donald Kudangirana stretching out to touch down out wide, and then followed it up with further quick scores from stand-out full-back Joey Luttrull and Tom Ashton.

 

It got worse for the Sonics. Although they tried their best to stem the tide of red shirts surging forwards, they simply couldn’t slow down Sheffield’s momentum. The Eagles dominated possession and made the most of it, scoring five further tries through Chris Palmer, Corey Hanson, Bradley Tattersall (2) and Tom Holt, who finished the game with a personal haul of 20 points thanks to eight successful conversions.

 

When the final whistle came, it was a great relief to Bristol’s battered and bruised bodies.

 

Bristol Sonics coach Aran Simm said: “Sheffield were terrific today and thoroughly deserved their win – they were a class apart at times. I would also like to pay a massive compliment to our lads for the way they faced up today. It was a largely inexperienced side, with several players making their first team debuts, and they didn’t give in. Any defeat hurts, especially when you’re challenging for honours at the top of the table, but we can learn from this, dust ourselves down and look to get back to winning ways next week.”

 

The Sonics next face Northampton Demons at Clifton RFC, Henbury, on Saturday 13 July, kick off 2.30pm.

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FEAST OF RL IN BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND

Would-be Rugby League fans are being treated to a feast of Rugby League in Bristol this weekend, as the countdown to the city’s involvement in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup intensifies.

Fans keen to get a taste of League before the city hosts a World Cup game between USA and the Cook Islands in October can take in no less than FOUR matches in Bristol this weekend, with games spread over Saturday and Sunday.

 

Both Bristol Sonics’ adult sides will be in action on Saturday at Clifton RFC, Henbury, with the action starting at 1pm as the club’s second team aims to boost their West of England League play-off hopes with a win over local rivals Somerset Vikings.

 

Then, from 2.30pm, the Sonics take on fellow Conference League South title rivals Sheffield Hallam Eagles in a must-win shoot-out for top spot.

 

The Sonics currently sit top of the Conference League South table, one point ahead of pre-season favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles, a club set up by Sheffield Hallam Eagles and 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners Sheffield Eagles, and featuring many players from the latter’s “performance pathway”.

 

When the two sides met on the opening day of the season at Don Valley Stadium, home of the Eagles’ professional side and training base for London 2012 Gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, it was the Sonics who prevailed in a high scoring thriller. Yet when the two sides last clashed, at Dings in early June, it was Sheffield who won, battering the home side in another entertaining contest.

 

The two could yet meet in the end-of-season Grand Final at Hemel Stags’ Pennine Way ground in September, but neither side are looking that far ahead. With top spot at stake, both teams will be focused on getting a win on Saturday.

 

Sonics coach Aran Simm, who will be coaching both sides on Saturday due to the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley, said: “We’ve got a chance to do something very special on Saturday, but it will be incredibly difficult. Sheffield are a top side full of talented young players, some of whom are pressing for selection to the Eagles’ Championship side, which shows their quality. If we win it would be a momentous result. We’ve already beaten them once this season, so we know it can be done. Whatever happens, it should be a superb, high quality, highly intense game of Rugby League.”

 

Simm will have to make do without a string of Sonics’ first team regulars, including captain Dom Swann, prop Daniel Brooker and loose forward Rob Verber. He can welcome back hooker Harry Marson, and hopes to have experienced forward Wes Rodgers available after a short injury lay-off.

 

Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole is excited by the prospect of Saturday’s double-header at Clifton. He said: “This is the first, and possibly only, time this season both adult teams will be at home on the same afternoon. With both games meaning a lot to the teams’ league position, we’d love to get a big crowd to support the lads. They’ve been doing great things on the pitch for a while now, so it would be great for the Bristol public to get behind them. Even if you’ve never been to watch a Rugby League match before, we can guarantee you’ll be entertained.”

 

Entrance to Clifton on Saturday is £3, including complimentary, full colour matchday programme.

 

The Rugby League action continues on Sunday, as the Sonics’ juniors face their counterparts from Old Patesians, Cheltenham, at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (10.30am start, free entry). The Sonics under 14 and under 16 teams will both be in action, for only their second outing of the season, following games against Aber Valley in Wales last month.

For more information about the Sonics, fans are advised to check out www.bristolsonics.com and www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL
SATURDAY 6th JULY
Clifton RFC, Henbury
13.00 – Bristol Sonics ‘A’ v Somerset Vikings (West of England League)
14.30 – Bristol Sonics v Sheffield Hallam Eagles (Conference League South)
Entrance £3 including programme
SUNDAY 7th JULY
Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze
10.30 – Bristol Sonics U16 v Chletenham Old Patesians U16
followed by Bristol Sonics U14 v Cheltenham Old Patesians U14
Free entrance