Bristol Sonics put in a battling display against a Royal Marines side which pulled away late in the game to record a 22-46 win. It came down to fitness in the end as the Sonics, with only 2 interchanges available on the night, tired in the last 15 minutes to let the Services team run in some late tries to seal the victory.
The Sonics arguably had the best of a see-saw first half and got their noses in front 3 times only for the Marines to haul them back in. After just 5 minutes captain Alex Potts put the home side ahead with a short range try after some strong carries from the Sonics pack. The Marines struck back through a misfielded kick but Potts was over again from the resulting kick-off as the left edge forced an error and winger Phil Tanner found his captain who barged through 2 defenders to score.
A well-worked try out wide from the Marines levelled things up again at 12-12 before the Sonics grabbed their third – this time Tanner turned scorer thanks to a great offload from centre Mike Gaston. Dom Swann added his 3rd conversion of the evening before a soft try let the visitors back in at 18-18. The Sonics finished the half with a period of pressure on the Marines line but will feel frustrated not to have added to their total whilst the Marines were down to 12 men after a yellow card. Three good scoring chances were missed before the half time whistle went.
The second half was always going to be tougher proposition for the Sonics given their limited bench as a number of players were unavailable due to work and other commitments. It remained a tight encounter in the early stages but the Marines struck first and managed to build up a 2 try lead. Swann pulled one back after collecting his own chip to cross out wide but it proved to be the only points of the second half. With the game still in the balance the home side started to tire badly and the fresher Marines team started to find some holes. Two long range tries sealed the victory and although the Sonics kept battling they couldn’t get over the line. Joe Singleton should have grabbed a consolation but knocked on over the line to leave the final score at 22-46. Perhaps a bit flattering to the Marines but they certainly deserved the win.
Sonics man of the match went to Josh Stupples after a storming performance at prop on his return to the team.