post

SONICS TO FACE SWINDON IN SEMI-FINAL

Bristol Sonics travel to face local rivals Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports Club this Saturday, with a place in the West of England Rugby League Grand Final at stake.

The Sonics rounded off the league phase of the season with a dominant 26-58 away win at Somerset Vikings last Saturday, and go into this weekend’s play-off semi-final as the competition’s form team.

Free-scoring Bristol finished joint top of West of England League Pool A, level on points with United Services Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, having scored more tries and points than their South Coast rivals. However, as Portsmouth came out top in “head to head” results between the sides, they have been awarded with top position, and therefore home advantage in their game against Cheltenham Phoenix, who finished second in Pool B, behind Bristol’s opponents on Saturday, Swindon St George.

The Sonics have an excellent record against the team from Wiltshire, though Swindon have been in excellent form this season and will provide a stern test of Bristol’s title credentials.

Bristol player/coach Dom Swann, who missed the Somerset fixture due to family commitments, said: “Swindon have been much improved in recent years, and have been particularly good this season by all accounts. While we’ve not played them in 2016, we’ve been watching their progress in Pool B with interest. The fact that they topped Pool B, ahead of decent sides such as Southampton and Cheltenham, suggests that they’ll be a very tough side to beat on Saturday, especially on their own pitch. We’ve been building all season for the play-offs, so we’re confident, but we’ll have to play very well to get a win.”

Swann, who will return to the starting line-up on Saturday in his preferred stand-off role, is boosted by the return of a number of first-choice forwards. Skipper Alex Potts, prop forward Byron Edwards, second-row Matt Blacker, player-coach Lawrence Roycroft and utility back Josh Spuyman all return. Swann is likely to stick with the core of players who have brought success to the Sonics this season, including centre Alun Roberts-Jones, prop forward Kieran Harvey, free-scoring forward George Burnie, and young backs Jonny Mawer and Joe Uren.

Swann said: “The fact that so many people have played well this season makes my job difficult. We have a number of talented players competing for every position, which is a good problem to have. I’ll see how the guys train this week, and make a decision on selection after that.”

Bristol Sonics take on Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports Club, Swindon, on Saturday 13th August, kick-off 2.30pm. The winners will compete in the West of England League Grand Final, which takes place at Chippenham RFC on Saturday August 20th (K.O 3pm).

FACTS & TRIVIA

• Bristol have previously played in one West of England League Grand Final, losing to Bath & Wiltshire Romans in 2016

• The Sonics won their first title in 2007, defeating Burntwood Barbarians in the Grand Final of the RLC West Midlands division. They won another West Midlands title the following year, reaching the national Grand Final, which they lost to Doncaster’s Thorne-Moor Moorends Marauders. Bristol also won the RLC Midlands Premier Grand Final in 2011, defeating Leicester Storm in the final

• The Sonics have scored 95 tries in 11 games this season, more than any other team in the West of England League.

post

SONICS BOOM ROMANS IN THE SECOND PERIOD

Bristol Sonics produced a dominant second half performance to pull away from Bath & Wiltshire Romans and secure a 22-56 win in an entertaining local derby at Corsham RFC.

The Romans were just four points behind at the interval following a closely-frought first 40 minutes, but the Sonics took control early in the second half and never looked back.

Bristol scored six tries without reply in the closing 25 minutes to cement their position in the top two of Pool A of the West of England League, and guarantee their participation in the end of season play-offs.

Both sides came in to the match understrength, with Bath taking the opportunity to blood a trio of new recruits.

They started brightly with some strong defence on their own line, then winger Mike Perry was the first to react to a bobbling, cross field kick from Sonics scrum half James Potts. He hacked the ball forwards, scooped it up, and ran clear of his opposite number to dive over in the corner.

Bath’s lead didn’t last long, though as three minutes later, Bristol hooker George Burnie scored a fine individual try, which was converted by prop forward Kieran Harvey.

It wasn’t long before Bristol extended their lead, scrum half James Potts beating a swathe of desperate defenders on a 45-metre run to the line. Harvey once again added the extras.

Byron Edwards, slipped a one-handed offload to James Potts. He broke clear, switched the direction of play and found second rower Joe Singleton with a perfect pass. Somehow, Singleton managed to get the ball to the supporting Burnie, who finished off. Kieran Harvey’s attempted conversion bounced off the post.

The home side had been starved of possession, but soon began to see more of the ball. A period of pressure close to the Bristol line ended in a much-needed score, with Mike Perry jumping highest to collect a superb high, cross-field kick and dive over. Andy Williamson added the conversion, to drag the Romans back to within six points.

Bristol were forced to shuffle their pack when Matt Blacker had to rush to hospital with a deep head cut following an accidental clash of heads. It took them a few minutes to readjust, but soon they’d extended their lead to ten points. There was little glamorous about George Burnie’s close-range effort, but it was a significant one; it was the utility forward’s hat-trick try.

Bath refused to give in and capitalised on a stray offload from the Sonics Byron Edwards, which was picked up by the evergreen Bruce Vuetanaotoka. The Fijian centre had enough pace to sprint 50 metres and touch down between the sticks. His conversion was the last action of the first half, with the Romans only trailing 16-20.

The Sonics quickly extended their lead in the second period and began to pull away from the Romans through a barnstorming run from centre Tom McIntosh, who also converted his own try. Bath hit back quickly through a try in the right corner from Bruce Vuetanaotoka, brilliantly converted by Andy Williamson.

As the second half wore on, Bristol began to overawe their tiring defence.

Six further scores followed – three converted by McIntosh. There was a close range effort from Byron Edwards, a brace from Morgan Lewis, a second of the afternoon for the impressive James Potts, and a typical prop forward’s try from Louis Mizen, who had played well since coming on for the injured Matt Blacker. The scoring was completed 90 seconds from time by McIntosh, who collected a cross field pass from Lawrence Roycroft and sprinted 40 metres to dive over in the left corner.

BATH & WILTSHIRE ROMANS 22

T: Mike Perry 2, Bruce Vuetanaotoka 2
G: Bruce Vuetanaotoka 1, Andy Williamson 2

BRISTOL SONICS 56
T: George Burnie 3, James Potts 2, Tom McIntosh 2, Byron Edwards, Morgan Lewis 2, Louis Mizem
G: Kieran Harvey 2, Tom McIntosh 4

MAN OF THE MATCH AWARDS
Romans: Mike Perry (winger)
Sonics: George Burnie (hooker)

– See more at: http://www.rugby-league.com/article/38145/report–bath–wiltshire-romans—bristol-sonics#sthash.TseIVxgM.dpuf