The Sonics A team produced a brilliant first half performance to go into the break 16-4 up and survived a concerted second half fight back from the Wiltshire Wyverns to put themselves firmly into the race for the play-offs.
Bristol got the scoring underway after seven minutes, Joe Atwell sprinting 60-metres to touch down. Andy Parsons added the conversion.
Wyverns pressed hard and finally gained their reward when Henry Mitchell powered over for an unconverted try.
Bristol responded positively when James Gross picked his way through the Wyverns’ defence to the posts, Josh Craven adding the extras.
They then had a try disallowed before Billy Head crossed on the stroke of half time.
Fired up after the break, the Wyverns scored first when Chris Bull charged over for an unconverted score but the Sonics hit back through Gross’ second converted by Parsons.
Again the Wyverns responded, Matt Howard going over for the score converted by Ashley Chalk. Wiltshire battled hard to close the gap further but the Sonics kept them out and when Ed Tofts stretched over for Jake Lewis to convert, they led 28-14.
Wyverns crossed with ten minutes left when Rhys Jones caught Bristol napping from close range but a well-worked score from AJ Currey finally put the result beyond doubt two minutes from time.
Bristol Sonics got back to winning ways on Saturday, lighting up the first ever Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands Magic event with an impressive first half try blitz and a 32-24 win over fellow title rivals Leicester Storm.The Sonics, who two weeks ago narrowly lost to unbeaten Northampton Demons, hit Leicester with a devastating opening spell of four tries in 20 minutes. Yet a sloppy second half meant Bristol had to dig deep to weather a spirited Storm fightback and hold on to a vital two-points.
On a stormy afternoon of sunshine and heavy showers at Coventry University’s Westwood Heath ground, it was Bristol who started the brighter. The Sonics opened the scoring after just three minutes, centre Joel Keen cutting back inside to touch down between the posts after a fine left-to-right attacking move. Captain Dom Swann added the first of four conversions to ease the Sonics into a 6-0 lead.Leicester found it hard to cope with Bristol’s hard-running and expansive wide play early on, and it was no surprise when the Sonics extended their lead after just 10 minutes. After attacking hard down Leicester’s left, long passes from hooker Harry Marson, Swann and Keen found winger Mike Norman in space. He clinically rounded his opposite number and touched down close to the posts, Swann calmly stroking the conversion between the uprights.
Six minutes later Bristol ripped Leicester’s defence apart on the flanks yet again. This time it was full-back Dan Evans taking advantage of the space created by a pin-point pass from scrum half Tom James. Evans scythed through unopposed on the left to score from 40 metres out.
Bristol Sonics’ second team produced a stunning second half comeback to earn a deserved 26-all draw with local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors and grab their first league point of the season.The Sonics trailed 20-10 at half time and were 26-14 down with 15 minutes of a pulsating game remaining, but a trio of late tries – including a score to level the match with two minutes remaining
Cooperative Rugby League ConferenceBristol Sonics 80 – 0 Leamington RoyalsFriendly matchBristol Sonics A 54 – 18 Somerset Vikings
Cooperative Rugby League Conference West MidlandsBristol Sonics 52 – 12 Telford RaidersCooperative Rugby League Conference West Of England DivisionGloucestershire Warriors 66 – 22 Bristol Sonics ABristol Sonics piled on the points against Telford Raiders at Aretians on Saturday to continue their fine start to the season, but there was less good news for the club’s second XIII.While the firsts were racking up ten tries against a youthful Telford team, Sonics’ seconds succumbed to a 66-22 away defeat at Gloucestershire Warriors – the club’s biggest loss to their local rivals in three seasons.There were no such worries for Bristol’s first team, who were in total control throughout against a well organized but relatively inexperienced Telford side who fielded 10 players under the age of 20. The Sonics could have scored within the first minute, but dropped the ball with the line begging. The Raiders then wasted a great opportunity to put Bristol under pressure after forcing a goal line drop-out, only to see Sonics centre
Missed touchline conversions proved to be Bristol Sonics undoing on Saturday, as both open age teams slumped to narrow two-point defeats in nailbiting contests at Aretians RFC.The Sonics’ first team were edged out 32-30 by high-flying Northampton Demons, but came within a width of a post of grabbing a sensational draw thanks to four tries in a pulsating final 15 minutes.Bristol Sonics’ second string led Cooperative Rugby League Conference West Of England Division leaders Wiltshire Wyverns 16-6 at half time, but couldn’t hold on to their lead and fell to an agonizing 28-26 defeat – despite scoring late to give themselves a chance of securing a second successive league draw.Report by Matt Anniss, photos by Richard May
BRISTOL SONICS produced a powerful performance to brush aside Telford Raiders 58-6 and secure top spot in the Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands West Qualifying group.Playing their first fixture for a fortnight, the Sonics produced powerful running, incisive passing and rock-solid tackling to overwhelm their hosts in a one-sided contest at Telford Hornets RFC.Despite a dozy start in which they were forced to drop out from under their own posts after allowing Telford’s long kick-off to roll dead, it wasn’t long before Bristol took command of the contest. Sonics’ second-rower Jack Gibson crossed the whitewash after eight minutes, only to lose the ball in the act of scoring.It proved to be a brief reprieve for the home side, who quickly coughed up possession and allowed Sonics’ hooker Harry Marson to stroll over from close range. Skipper Dom Swann added the first of nine successful conversions to give Bristol a deserved 6-0 lead.The Sonics surged further ahead three minutes later, when stand-in scrum half Joel Keen finished off a break from Jack Gibson. The strong running second-rower received an inch-perfect pass from skipper Swann, surged 40 metres down the left flank and found Keen in support. He did the rest, diving over underneath the posts.With hooker Marson and centre Ed Tofts leading the tackle count, Bristol continued to dominate Telford in defence and pose many problems to the Raiders in attack. On 23 minutes Bristol extended their lead further, thanks to great work from Swann and winger Mike Norman. Swann hoisted a high crossfield kick from left to right, which was flicked back inside by the diminutive flier. Centre Elliot Nightingale scooped up the ball and trotted over for a try in the corner which Swann impressively converted.Three minutes later, the Sonics extended their lead further thanks to a simple try from second-rower Peter Butcher. Telford had been on the attack in their own 20 metre area, but an error from experienced prop Matt Evans allowed Bristol another chance to attack. The ball was quickly moved to Butcher, who rolled over in the tackle and stretched out to touch down.With six minutes to go until half time Sonics winger Mike Norman grabbed a try of his own from close range, bumping off two tacklers to crash over, before full back Dan Evans brought an excellent first 40 to a close with a try wide on the left after a smart right-to-left hands move.The Sonics started the second half as well as they’d finished the first, with marauding prop forward Wes Rodgers powering his way over the try line just 30 seconds after the restart.Bristol had two tries chalked off for forward passes in the following 15 minutes, before Peter Butcher grabbed his second of the afternoon after another quick left-to-right passing move.It marked the beginning of a poor period for the Sonics. Having passed a half-century of points, Bristol’s intensity dropped markedly and errors began to creep into their previously impeccable play.An error from winger Ben Pullen from a high Telford kick ended with a Raiders attacker being hauled down inches from the try line. Tackler Joel Keen was adjudged to have taken too long to release the attacking player, and was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes by referee Peter Parker.Telford used the ball smartly in the following 10 minutes, but superb defence from title-chasing Bristol kept them at bay.Following Keen’s return the Sonics seem to get a second wind, and it wasn’t long before substitute centre Dan Wegryzn powered his way over on the left. Five minutes later Dan Evans grabbed his second try of the afternoon following another break from second-rower Jack Gibson.Telford refused to buckle though and ended the game the stronger of the two sides, finally breaching Bristol’s previously impeccable defence with six minutes remaining. It was John Phelps who got the score following a neat offload from Matt Evans, Liam Evans converting.While it gave the home fans something to cheer and was nothing less than deserved, it was scant consolation for the battered and bruised home side.At the final whistle, Bristol Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley heaped praise on his players: ‘For 65 minutes that was an excellent performance. While I was looking for an 80-minute performance, I’m satisfied that we’re slowly getting better week on week. We lost our intensity and looked tired in the closing stages, and that’s something we’ll have to work on, but overall I was very pleased.’Fearnley had special praise for veteran centre Ed Tofts and young hooker Harry Marson, who ended the game with a whopping 36 and 37 tackles respectively. Fearnley said: ‘Harry and Ed worked tirelessly today and showed the other guys what we’re looking for. If we’re going to win this competition we need to be strong in defence. We’ll always score tries because we’ve got some very exciting players, but they only get the space to do their thing if we tackle the opposition out of the game. For 75 minutes we did that, and it was thanks to the effort of players like Harry and Ed.’Next Saturday Bristol Sonics complete their Cooperative Rugby League Conference West Midlands Qualifying campaign with a trip to bottom side Leamington Royals. The week after, they travel to bitter title rivals Northampton Demons in the first round of the Midlands Premier play-offs.Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics A consolidated third place in the Cooperative Rugby League Conference West of England division with an awarded 24-0 win over Oxford Cavaliers. The men from Oxfordshire travelled to Bristol with just four players, and were loaned a number of Sonics’ second-teamers to get a game on. The hastily arranged friendly ended 80-14 to Bristol Sonics A.
Coventry Bears 24 v 20 Bristol Sonics (AET)
Cooperative RLC Midlands Premier Grand Final –
Bristol Sonics produced an impressive second half fight back to edge out Leicester Storm 34-26 in a feisty contest at Little Stoke Park.
Trailing 18-4 at the break, Bristol scored five converted tries in the second period to snatch a victory that for large periods of the game looked unlikely.
The Sonics started poorly, and fell behind with less than three minutes on the clock when Storm hooker Simon Anniss forced his way over from close range. Mark White’s conversion made it 6-0 to the visitors.
Bristol eventually got into their stride and began to push Leicester back, but the visitors’ defense stood firm. The Sonics finally hit back after a quarter of an hour, when a John-Jo Burden offload found James Gross. The utility back hared down the right wing and touched down for his seventh try in four matches. Unfortunately Burden couldn’t convert.
For the next 15 minutes, the two sides punched and counter-punched, but neither could make the breakthrough. Bristol had the better of possession, but basic errors and a lack of direction – coupled with solid Storm tackling – resulted in stalemate.
As the half wore on, Leicester began to turn the screw and deservedly extended their lead on 33 minutes when Maxoton Morgs took advantage of some weak Bristol goal line defence to burst through and touch down beneath the sticks. Mark White added the extras.
Five minutes later, Storm extended their lead further, centre Jack Powly getting on the end of a flowing attacking move. White again added the extras, giving Leicester a much deserved 18-4 lead.
A string of penalties in the final few minutes of the half gave Bristol the chance to attack Leicester’s line, but the Storm’s line held firm and the Sonics went into half time staring down the barrel of a rare home defeat.
Coach Karl Fearnley tore into his players during the interval, challenging them to make amends for a poor first half performance. He got the desired result during an action-packed second half, but it was hardly vintage Bristol.
The half started brilliantly for the Sonics. A clumsy Storm knock-on from the kick-off gave Bristol a scrum 20 metres out from the Leicester line. From the scrum, loose forward Neil Evans charged through the Storm line and dived under the posts for a vital score. John-Jo Burden made no mistake with the conversion.
Yet as soon as Bristol had started their revival, Leicester restored their advantage. A lazy knock-on straight from the kick-off gave Storm the perfect platform to test the Sonics’ previously sloppy goal line defence. It didn’t take them long to once again highlight the home side’s flaws, Ant Latham crossing out wide after neat work from Ty Watson and Simon Anniss. White couldn’t convert, but the Storm still held a 12-point lead.
Five minutes later, Bristol had pulled another try back, John-Jo Burden stepping his way past four or five Leicester defenders to touch down. Burden once again converted, cutting Storm’s lead to just six points.
Leicester were soon 10 points ahead again, another Sonics error gifting them good field position from which to attack. It was Simon Anniss who took advantage, scooting straight from dummy half through a gaping hole behind the ruck to score in the corner. White couldn’t convert, but with 55 minutes gone and Bristol beginning to look frustrated, Storm were sitting pretty.
It was an inspired ten minute spell midway through the half that finally changed the game in Bristol’s favour. On 60 minutes, James Gross stepped his way through the line on halfway and sprinted away to score another memorable – not to mention vital – try. Burden converted from in front of the sticks to reduce the arrears to just four points.
Less than five minutes later, Bristol hit the front for the first time in the match. It was Neil Evans who once again powered his way through the middle to touch down, much to the delight of the Sonics’ frustrated supporters. Burden’s fourth successful conversion gave Bristol a slender 28-26 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Despite the advantage, the game hung in the balance. Thankfully for Bristol supporters, it was the Sonics who got the knock-out blow with 10 minutes of the match remaining. John-Jo Burden scooped up a loose ball close to the Leicester line, stepped two men and dived over. His conversion gave the Sonics an eight-point lead – one they would not relinquish.
WIth eight minutes of the game remaining Bristol fullback Johan Schoeman was sin-binned for the second reckless challenge in the less than 30 seconds. Leicester sensed their opportunity and attacked hard, but the Sonics held on for a vital victory.
Earlier in the day, the Sonics’ second team made their long-awaited debut against Leicester’s second string.It was the visitors who emerged victorious, scoring two late tries to snatch a 26-20 win.
Sonics’ second team skipper Mike Ashford was carried off late in the game with a broken leg – an inury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
Despite their inexperience, the new-look Sonics’ seconds put in a gutsy performance and were a little unlucky to lose.