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SONICS TO FACE DOCKERS IN CUP

Bristol Sonics face a daunting trip to East Yorkshire in the first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, after being drawn against National Conference League giants Hull Dockers.

The Sonics are expected take on the National Conference League Premier outfit at Tower Grange, Hull, on Saturday February 1st, subject to confirmation.

Bristol will be looking to upset the odds and record their first ever Tetley’s Challenge Cup win at the third attempt, following losses to Leeds Metropolitan University (2009) and Eccles (2012-13).

Sonics captain Dom Swann is undaunted by the club’s tough draw. He said: “We could hardly have asked for a tougher draw, but it’s one that we’re really looking forward to. The Dockers are one of the most famous clubs in amateur Rugby League, with history dating right back to 1880. We’ve only been going 11 years, and although we’ve made great strides and have some top players, most of our lads came to Rugby League late. It will be a real test of how far we’ve come.

“If we play to our absolute potential, we know we can cause them some problems at the very least. Last season we faced a National Conference League side in the Challenge Cup and it was a very even contest. Whatever happens, we’re all looking forward to going up there and giving it a good go – that’s what knockout rugby is all about.”

The tie could mark an emotional farewell for one of the Sonics’ longest serving players, Hull-born forward Wes Rodgers. The prop started his playing career as a junior at Hull Dockers, and has hinted that he may put off his planned retirement for one last game against his former club.

The Sonics will be running a coach to the game, and supporters are encouraged to come along and cheer on the side. More details will be posted on the club’s website in due course.

The Sonics’ new training venue is not available until later in the year so the club will be using an interim venue for the Challenge Cup training. New head coach Jase Talbot will be holding 6 sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Old Elizabethans RFC, Severn Road, Hallen, Bristol, BS10 7RZ. These will start next Monday (13th Jan) at 6:45pm for a 7pm start and run up to the game on 1st Feb. Further pre-season details will be announced at a later date.

 

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SONICS AWAIT CHALLENGE CUP FATE

Bristol Sonics will discover their opponents in the first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup on Wednesday (January 8th), when the draw takes place live on BBC Radio Humberside (6.30pm).

The Sonics are one of 44 teams from around the UK starting out on the road to the August’s prestigious final at Wembley Stadium, one of the traditional highlights of the British sporting calendar.

Bristol is representing Conference League South, following the decision from champions Sheffield-Hallam Eagles not to take part in the competition. It will be the third time the Sonics have featured in the competition, following agonizing first round losses to Leeds Metropolitan University and Eccles in previous seasons.

The Sonics could face a nightmare away trip to Scottish Conference champions Aberdeen, a local derby against Welsh premiers Torfaen Tigers – a team the Sonics once lost to by 80 points a decade ago – or face one of a host of National Conference League sides from the game’s traditional “heartlands” of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Humberside and Cumbria. Alternatively, Bristol could be drawn against one of the forces teams, the British Police or one of the two universities representing Student Rugby League.

Fans can find out the Sonics’ fate by tuning into BBC Radio Humberside online – www.bbc.co.uk/radiohumberside – from 6.30pm on Wednesday 8th January.

The first round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup will be played on the weekend of February 1st and 2nd.

Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, who has played in both of the club’s previous Tetley’s Challenge Cup matches, is looking forward to the draw. He said: “The Tetley’s Challenge Cup is the most historic competition in Rugby League, and there’s always something exciting about setting out on the Road to Wembley. We know that we’re not going to get that far, but it would be brilliant to get our first ever win in the competition and progress to the second or even third round, which would be an amazing achievement given the quality of the sides in the draw.

“We’ve been very lucky in the past in receiving home draws, which always works to our advantage. It’s also allowed us to draw big crowds, as the Tetley’s Challenge Cup is a big deal – the later rounds are shown live on the BBC on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and the final is one of the highlights of the British sporting calendar. It’s a big deal for amateur players like us, just like non-league footballers playing in the F.A Cup.”

In preparation for their participation in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, Bristol Sonics’ open age players will return to training for the first time since September this month. The club is on the look out for new players for both first and second teams, and is encouraging anyone interested to get in touch via the club’s website at www.bristolsonics.com. Details of pre-season training sessions will be announced shortly.

 

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SONICS WANT TO BUILD ON WORLD CUP SUCCESS

Bristol Sonics have promised to build on the success of last night’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 game in the city.

 

Over 7,000 people descended on the Memorial Stadium, home of Bristol Rovers and Bristol Rugby, to watch the USA Tomahawks record a famous 32-20 debut World Cup win over the Cook Islands.

 

It was the first time top flight Rugby League had been played in Bristol since 1911, when Australia beat the West and Wales 23-3 at Ashton Gate.

 

Many of the spectators were watching Rugby League for the first time, and the Sonics are keen to build on the interest created to boost the sport at grassroots level in the region.

 

Sonics Chairman Phil Cole, one of the people who founded the club back in 2002, said: “Last night was a superb occasion and a great spectacle, and for those of us in the region involved in the community game it was a brilliant shot in the arm.

 

“There were so many newcomers to Rugby League in the crowd, and it’s our job now to try and harness the interest and excitement created by Rugby League World Cup 2013 coming to our city to increase the numbers of players, fans, volunteers and sponsors for the game at grassroots level, not just in Bristol but in the wider region.”

 

Sonics captain Dom Swann, the sole surviving player from the club’s debut season in 2003, is urging anyone interested in Rugby League to get in touch with the club.

 

He said: “The Sonics are always on the look out for new players, fans and volunteers, and it would be great to see some of those people who enjoyed last night’s game getting involved in some way.

 

“Anyone interested in getting involved, in whatever capacity, can contact us through our website at www.bristolsonics.com and we’ll get back to them. We run two adult teams, a number of junior sides and conduct coaching sessions in schools. If you live in the area and want more Rugby League, the Sonics would like to hear from you.”

 

The Sonics were formed in 2002 by a group of local Rugby League enthusiasts, and in the early years struggled to get a foothold in a city better known for its connections with football and rugby union. Since then, the club has grown steadily and is now one of the leading community clubs outside of the North of England.

 

Phil Cole said: “When a few of us sat down in the George pub in Filton back in September 2002, we could never have envisaged a Rugby League World Cup game being played in our city. It hasn’t always been easy trying to grow the game in this part of the country, as our friends at Gloucestershire Warriors, Swindon St George and Somerset Vikings would agree, but there is a feeling that slowly and surely Rugby League is growing.

 

“We want to introduce a whole new generation of young people to our great sport. We already run some junior teams, but if there is interest we’d love to run more. If only a fraction of those who came last night go on to attend more Rugby League matches, get involved as players, or give their precious time as volunteers, it can only be a great thing for the Sonics and the sport as a whole.”

 

Anyone interested in getting involved in Rugby League in the city can contact the Sonics through the Get Involved section of this website.

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WORLD CUP MATCH CAPS RUGBY LEAGUE’S RISE IN BRISTOL

Tonight, top flight Rugby League returns to Bristol for the first time since 1911, when the touring Australians beat Wales and West 23-3 at Ashton Gate. Just 1,000 confused locals turned up to watch.

Just before 8pm, the Cook Islands and the United States of America will walk out onto the Memoral Stadium turf for a vital Rugby League World Cup 2013 encounter.

A crowd in excess of 5,000 will roar them on, while a “guard of honour” made up of local Rugby League players and volunteers will greet the players as they make their entrance.

That guard of honour will feature five representatives from Bristol Sonics, the city’s community club. Four of those are the “Brooker brothers”, the region’s answer to the Burgess brothers. All four – eldest brother Marcus, local community coach Daniel, 18 year-old Dean and 16 year-old Harry – have all played for the Sonics. The fifth representative will be Tristan Moore, recently retired second team captain and one of the club’s junior coaches.

In the stands watching on will be a large group of players, volunteers and fans from Bristol’s community club, who no doubt will be rubbing their eyes in amazement.

You see, it was just 11 years ago when a small group of people got together in a pub in Filton to discuss the idea of starting a Rugby League team in Bristol.

It’s a remarkable story in anyone’s book.

Before the Sonics, there had been very little Rugby League in Bristol. During the 1980s and early ‘90s, there was an amateur club playing in the now defunct Midlands and South West Amateur Rugby League Association (MASWARLA). With the 100-year war between rugby union and Rugby League still ongoing, the club struggled to attract and retain players, with most regular players appearing under pseudonyms in order to avoid a lifetime ban from playing union.

Then, in 2002, an official from the Rugby Football League contacted Phil Cole, a local League enthusiast and Union convert, to ask whether he fancied trying to launch a club in Bristol.

Cole did just that, posting messages on Internet forums asking anyone interested to come to a meeting at a pub in Filton. A handful of people turned up, but it was enough. Further meetings followed, and a few more volunteers appeared. By the end of September 2011, Bristol Sonics were born.

The Sonics story since has been one of struggle and success. The early years, in particular, were hard, as the club struggled to attract and retain players and moved ground on an almost yearly basis. During their first season in 2003, the Sonics won just two games, suffering the bitter disappointment of losing to Cardiff Demons by 70, 90 and 100 points.

What a contrast to where Rugby League in Bristol, and the South West at large, now finds itself.

Alongside Cheltenham-based Championship One side University of Gloucestershire All Golds, the Sonics have been integral in getting Rugby League into schools in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. The Sonics have junior teams at under 14 and under 16 level, which feeds into the Bristol Rugby League Academy side based at South Gloucestershire & Stroud College, based at the WISE Campus in Filton.

At adult, or “open age”, level, the Sonics boast two sides. The second team plays in the West of England League, alongside local amateur clubs including Swindon St George, Gloucestershire Warriors and Somerset Vikings. The first team, meanwhile, plays in Conference League South, a “tier 3” league featuring the strongest amateur sides outside of the North of England. This summer, the Sonics came second in that League, behind eventual winners Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, effectively Championship winners Sheffield Eagles’ second team.

Rugby League is still a small sport in Bristol, but it is growing. Year-on-year over the last decade, more players, fans and volunteers have got involved, either through the Sonics, schools coaching or at one of the local universities and colleges. League is, slowly but surely, making its presence felt.

Tonight, Rugby League in Bristol will get a shot in the arm like nothing that’s come before. So far, the Rugby League World Cup 2013 has been a runaway success, with classic matches, memorable moments and star players doing extraordinary things. The impact has been such that sales for tonight’s game in Bristol have rocketed since the weekend, with almost unexpected demand.

The vast majority of tonight’s crowd will be watching Rugby League for the first time. Despite the hard work of the Sonics in marketing themselves, many will not know that there is a community club on their doorstep. When they find out, we can expect interest to grow massively.

Occasions such as this don’t come around too often. In fact, it’s been over 100 years between drinks for Bristol and top-flight Rugby League. We might not see anything like it for years to come. As the Rugby League World Cup 2013 hastag says, you have to #BeThere.

It will be memorable in so many ways, and particularly poignant for those who endured the Sonics’ early years of toil, where the club struggled to stay afloat, once had to field a team containing only five players with any kind of previous rugby experience and teetered on the brink of collapse.

It may be a cliché, but dreams really do come true.

The Cook Islands take on the U.S.A at The Memorial Stadium, Bristol, tonight (Wednesday 30th October) in Rugby League World Cup 2013. Tickets start from £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Some tickets will be available at the ground. For more information on Rugby League World Cup 2013, head to www.rlwc2013.com.

 

 

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SONICS TO HELP “MAKE SUNDAYS SPECIAL”

Bristol Sonics will be taking to the open, traffic-free streets of Bristol city centre this Sunday (29th September) to offer people of all ages the chance to try touch Rugby League ahead of the arrival of the Rugby League World Cup in the city next month.

 

As part of Bristol City Council’s ongoing “Make Sundays Special” initiative, which offers activities for all the family on the closed-off streets around the Old City area, the Sonics will be holding a free, hour-long introduction to touch Rugby League from 12noon to 1pm in the fenced-off “games area” on Baldwin Street.

Players, coaches and volunteers from the city’s  community Rugby League club will be on hand to school young and old alike in the basics of Rugby League. Children and adults will be given a chance to try their hand at touch Rugby League in a safe environment, right in the heart of Bristol city centre.

 

Sonics players and volunteers will also be helping to spread the word about the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, which begins on Saturday October 26 with a dramatic opening ceremony and double-header of matches featuring England, Australia, Wales and Italy at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. A few days later, the action moves to Bristol, as the Cook Islands take on the USA at The Memorial Stadium on Wednesday October 30. There will be a Rugby League World Cup information stand on Baldwin Street, where people can find out more about the tournament, the game in Bristol and how to buy tickets.

Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, the club’s longest-serving player, said: “It’s really exciting to be able to spread the Rugby League message to the people of Bristol as part of Make Sundays Special. It’s a terrific initiative from the Council and a great opportunity to get more people interested in the sport and the Rugby League World Cup, which we’re all thrilled is coming to Bristol. Rugby League is an exciting, fast-paced sport and touch Rugby League offers a great introduction. It can be played by anyone, regardless of age, fitness or ability, and we’re looking forward to getting new people interested in our sport on Sunday.”

Make Sundays Special is one of Bristol City Council’s flagship programmes. One Sunday a month, roads around the Old City (Baldwin Street, Corn St, St Nicholas Street, Small Street and the surrounding area) are closed to motor vehicles but open to the public. The area is then transformed into a bustling carnival of music, entertainment, free activities, sports taster sessions, markets and street vendors. This Sunday, as well as the Sonics’ touch Rugby League sessions, visitors will get a chance to play ping-pong, bike polo and basketball, relax to a wide range of music, test themselves on a pop-up climbing wall, and shop at a bustling street market.

For more information on Make Sundays special, check out www.bristol.gov.uk/sundays. To buy tickets for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, head to www.rlwc2013.com/tickets. If you’d like to learn more about Rugby League in Bristol, point your browser at www.bristolsonics.com.

 

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SUPER SONICS SATURDAY

Bristol Sonics will be in a celebratory mood this Saturday, as they host their final scheduled Conference League South game of the season at Clifton RFC.

The Sonics will return to Station Road in September for a home play-off fixture, almost certainly against Saturday’s opponents, Nottingham Outlaws.

The Sonics secured second place in the League, and a home play-off tie, thanks to a dramatic, late 30-28 win at Leicester Storm next weekend.

For their final home league fixture of the season, the Sonics are laying on a post-match barbecue and are encouraging local sports fans to turn up in their droves and celebrate a successful season for the city’s Rugby League club.

The BBQ doubles as the end-of-season party and presentation for the club’s junior section. Under 14 and under 16 players, and their families, are being encouraged to turn up early and take it what promises to be a bruising, tense first team fixture against Nottingham.

Entry to watch the game is free for all, while Clifton RFC’s bar will be open all afternoon for those who fancy a tipple.

The Sonics will once again be without a number of first team regulars for the game against Nottingham, but Head Coach Karl Fearnley is hopeful of welcoming back a number of players, as his squad gears up for the end-of-season play-offs and a tilt at Grand Final glory.

Fearnley, who missed last Saturday’s game in Leicester due to work commitments, said: “Now we’ve secured second spot in the League, we want to get some form going into the play-offs. I hear that the second team players who stepped up against Leicester played terrifically well, so they’ll get another chance to impress this weekend. We’ve always said that first team places will be awarded on merit, and they’ve earned another chance to impress.

“Although the result isn’t important on Saturday, we’ll be looking to put in another good performance against a top Nottingham side, in order to get some confidence and match fitness ahead of the play-offs. Games against the Outlaws are usually entertaining, and with the barbecue afterwards, it should be a terrific afternoon.”

Before the game, Sonics first team players are planning to take a trip up to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court Estate, to help with the promotion of the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup match in Bristol, which takes place at the Memorial Stadium in October. The Rugby League World Cup trophy will be on display at the Balloon Fiesta from Thursday 8th August until Saturday 10 August, as part of the nation-wide RLWC 2013 Trophy Tour.

Bristol Sonics take on Nottingham Outlaws at Clifton RFC, Henbury, on Saturday 10 August, kick-off 2.30pm.

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JUNIOR PRESENTATION AND BBQ THIS SATURDAY

Bristol Sonics are laying on an end-of-season party, barbecue and presentation ceremony for the club’s junior players this Saturday, August 10.

The event, which is free for all Under 14 and Under 16 players, and their families, will take place following the first team’s final home Conference League South fixture of the season, against Nottingham Outlaws, at Clifton RFC.

Players and parents are encouraged to turn up early to watch the club’s senior stars in action. Their game against Nottingham kicks off at 2.30pm. The Junior party, barbecue and presentation will start around 4.15pm.

Before the end of the summer holidays, the Sonics are also putting on two free Rugby League summer camps for players aged between 11 and 16 years old (under 12s-upwards). These will take place at Clifton RFC on Tuesday 13th August and Tuesday 20th August (9.30am for a 10am start). The camps will finish around 3pm in the afternoon and will comprise a mix of team-building exercises, core Rugby League skills and competitive games. There will be a number of coaches present, including Sonics’ first team players. All are Level-2 qualified and CRB checked.

Players don’t need to book their place. If you want to attend, just turn up at Clifton in time for the start of each camp.

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SONICS STUN STORM IN THRILLER

A converted try from hooker Nick Portch with the last play of the game earned Bristol Sonics another dramatic, last-gasp 30-28 win over Leicester Storm.

 

With referee David Butler poised to blow for full time, Portch produced a moment of magic to dive over for the try that levelled the scores at 28-apiece. Sonics’ skipper Dom Swann kept his nerve to slot over the conversion from a tricky angle to earn Bristol their second last-minute win at New College, Leicester, in the space of four months.

 

Earlier in the season, the Sonics stole the points from the home side when veteran half back James Gross somehow squeezed over in the left corner with seconds remaining. Portch’s try came in similar circumstances, and fittingly was scored in almost exactly the same spot.

 

For Bristol, the victory was extra sweet given the circumstances surrounding the game. Missing a string of first team regulars and forced to travel with 15 (plus player/coach Aran Simm, who didn’t make it on to the pitch in the end), the Sonics were up against it from the start. Yet the players who stepped up from the second team – Nick Portch, Lee Bartlett, Alex Potts, Joe Singleton and Myles Raymond – fully justified their selection, playing an integral part in what will go down as one of the Sonics’ most memorable wins to date.

 

Things didn’t start particularly well for Bristol. After an error-strewn opening Leicester took the lead on seven minutes. The Sonics were culpable of dropping the ball in their own half, and the home side took full advantage. The ball was worked wide to the winger, who strolled in unopposed.

 

On 18 minutes Leicester extended their lead with a simple try, as a Storm player brushed off some weak attempted tackles to dive over beneath the posts. The conversion made it 10-0.

 

The home side were in control at this point. While Bristol made yards down the flanks, they were guilty of making too many errors and didn’t seem to be playing with the sort of fluidity fans have come to expect from the Sonics.

 

Slowly, things began to improve. As the half wore on Bristol began to enjoy more possession and good field position, and eventually made the home side pay. On 29 minutes loose forward Jake Robertson barged through a string of would-be tacklers on a 40-metre dash to the try line. Swann converted from the left touchline to reduce the arrears to four points.

 

Then, three minutes later, the Sonics levelled the scores when top try-scorer Marcus Brooker powered his way over from 10 metres out. Swann couldn’t convert.

 

Bristol looked to be getting on top, but within three minutes the home side had retaken the lead. Following a Sonics’ error 20 metres from their own line, Leicester probed the Bristol line for four tackles before finally breaching the visitors’ defence. The easy conversion put the home side six points ahead.

 

Worse was to come for Bristol in the dying seconds of the first half. Having earned good field position from another Leicester knock-on 30 metres from their own line, the Sonics sensed blood. Instead, the ball was intercepted by a Leicester player, who raced 70 metres before passing to a teammate, who dived over under the posts. The conversion sailed between the uprights, giving the home side a 22-10 lead at the break.

 

Having looked rusty and, at times, jaded in the first period, it seemed that Bristol would struggle in the second half. Crucially, though, they would be playing down New College’s sloping pitch, giving them a potential advantage in the closing stages if the game was close.

 

The Sonics began the half with real purpose, and scored within a minute of the restart. Having spotted a weakness in the home side’s right side defence (Bristol’s left edge attack), Marcus Brooker took full advantage, again forcing his way over to score his second try of the afternoon. It was his 16th of the season, tying Dom Swann’s club record for tries in a campaign. Swann couldn’t convert, but the Sonics were back in the game.

 

Something of an arm wrestle developed, as Bristol probed down the flanks and did their best to put the home side under pressure. For their part, Leicester looked rattled. Their error count increased, and they began to give away needless penalties.

 

Eventually, Bristol’s pressure told. On 58 minutes hooker Nick Portch burrowed his over from close range on the left for a try, converted by Swann, which left the Sonics trailing by just two points.

 

It would get worse before it got better, though. Having clawed their way back into contention, the Sonics’ slipped further behind with 12 minutes remaining. Some loose tackling allowed Leicester’s full back to surge through a gap and touch down under the posts. The conversion extended the home side’s lead to eight points.

 

The Sonics, though, have previous form when it comes to late comebacks, having won several games from losing positions this season. They were playing well and, surprisingly, looked the fresher and fitter of the two sides in the closing stages.

 

With eight minutes remaining, Bristol gave themselves hope with a brilliantly taken try from winger James Raymond, who dived in at the right corner after a wonderful, flowing, left-to-right passing move. Swann couldn’t convert, but the Sonics were now just four points behind.

 

As the clock ticked down, Bristol seemed to waste their big chance to sneak a win. With less than 2 minutes remaining, the Sonics spurned a four man overlap on the left and somehow lost the ball.

 

But the drama wasn’t over. Needing to simply complete a set of six to seal the win, Leicester dropped the ball 20 metres from their own line with a minute to go. One scrum and two tackles later, Nick Portch found himself at acting half back, two metres from Storm’s tryline. Sensing the Brooker brothers hovering at the left edge, looking for the ball, Leicester’s defenders instinctively shifted towards them. Portch feigned to pass in that direction before stepping the other way and diving through the resultant gap to level the scores.

 

With time up, skipper Swann had a chance to give his side victory. Taking a few deep breaths, he calmly slotted the conversion between the sticks and let out a primal roar. Once again, the Sonics had won a game they looked like losing.

 

Afterwards, Swann was predictably ecstatic. He said: “That has to go down as one of our best results of the season. It wasn’t a great performance, but we got better as the match went on and in the second half we were definitely the better side. What makes it so special is the side we had out. Lots of lads were asked to step up from the seconds and they all lifted their game. It will be hard to drop them now – playing like that should earn them a chance to play in our remaining league fixtures and stake a claim for a place in the team for the play-offs.”

 

The Sonics next face third-placed Nottingham Outlaws at Clifton RFC on Saturday 10th August (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

MATCH FACTS

 

Bristol Sonics scorers

Tries: Jake Robertson (29 minutes), Marcus Brooker 2 (33 mins, 41 mins), Nick Portch 2 (58 mins, 80 mins), James Raymond (75 mins)

Conversions:  Dom Swann 3 (from 6)

 

Scoring sequence

4-0, 10-0, 10-4, 10-6, 10-10, 16-10, 22-10, 22-14, 22-20, 28-20, 28-24, 28-30

 

Half-time

22-10

 

Referee

David Bulter

 

Man of the Match

Nick Portch (hooker)

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SONICS AIM TO GET BACK IN THE GROOVE

Bristol Sonics return to Conference League South action this Saturday (August 3) for the first time in three weeks, with a tricky trip to Leicester Storm.

 

The Sonics, who sit second in the table going into the latter stages of the season, are aiming to get back into form in time for the play-offs, which begin at the end of the month.

 

They face a tough task on Saturday at New College, Leicester, against a well organized, in-form Storm side that has begun to find some form in recent times.

 

The last time the sides met in Leicester, earlier in the season, the Sonics required a last-gasp try from veteran back James Gross to take home the points. Bristol generally have a poor record in Leicester, and will have to be at the top of their game to breach the home side’s miserly defence.

 

To make matters worse, Bristol are set to be without a string of first team regulars, though they can take some comfort from the return of skipper Dom Swann, experienced forward Wes Rodgers and a clutch of on-loan players from partner club the University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley could also include a number of players who impressed for the club’s second team, whose season finished two weeks ago with a comprehensive victory over Swindon St George.

 

Sonics’ captain Dom Swann is relishing his return to action, and has urged his side to re-focus ahead of the end-of-season play-offs.

 

Swann said: “From the very start of the season, our focus has been getting to the Grand Final in Hemel. We started the season well, but as time has passed we’ve looked a little fragile defensively and we’ve not been able to get a settled side. The next three games give us a great opportunity to re-focus and find some form ahead of the play-offs.

 

“It will be very difficult at Leicester. They’re a tough, well-organised side, coached by someone with professional experience, Dean Thomas. They’ve been in great form of late and they’ll be desperate to get another win to try and secure third in the League, or even second if we slip-up.

 

“We want to go into the play-offs in the best possible form. To do that we need to take these next three games seriously, play to our plans and start getting some rhythm back into our play.”

 

Bristol Sonics face Leicester Storm at New College, Leicester, on Saturday 3rd August, kick-off 3pm. Fans can follow match and score updates online at http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

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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.