Hooker Jack Uren grabbed a quartet of tries for the second week running as Bristol Sonics swept aside Somerset Vikings 48-22 to reach next Sunday’s West of England League Grand Final.
Bristol’s victory sets up a Grand Final re-match against table-toppers Bath & Wiltshire Romans on Sunday 23rd August at Corsham RFC’s Leafy Lane ground (K.O 14.30). The Sonics are the only side to have beaten Bath this season, and will have high hopes of winning their first silverware since 2011 .
The Sonics tarted well against third-placed Somerset on Saturday, with forwards Olley Scholey, Matt Blacker, Ed Boxhall and Tom Verber punching holes in the visitors’ defence right from the start. It took just two minutes for Bristol to open the scoring, hooker Jack Uren wriggling over from close range for a try converted by full back Jack Farler.
On 14 minutes Bristol extended their lead, winger James Potts strolling over out wide after receiving an inch-perfect pass from stand-off and assistant coach Lawrence Roycroft. Two minutes later loose forward Tom Verber broke clear and dived over between the sticks, Farler again converting. When scrum half Simon Bannister stepped past a couple of players out wide for a try converted by Farler after 22 minutes, Bristol were 22-0 ahead and looking comfortable.
An error from Bannister from the resulting kick-off handed Somerset a great chance to attack from a scrum, five metres out from the Sonics line. Somerset captain and stand-out player Joe Bussell duly forced his way over direct from the scrum, with lively half-back Kelvin Zingyama adding the extras.
Bristol quickly refocused and extended their lead on the half-hour mark, Matt Blacker charging over for a try converted by Farler. With five minutes until half time, the visitors pulled another try back, Zingyama dancing through Bristol’s defence for a deserved score. His conversion made it 30-12. Somerset piled on the pressure in the closing minutes of the half, but Bristol’s defence held firm.
The Sonics effectively booked their final spot with two tries in the opening 12 minutes of the second half. First prop forward Sam Collins barged his way over from close range on 42 minutes, before Jack Uren scythed through Somerset’s defence from 35 metres out to pick up his second try of the afternoon. Farler converted both, putting Bristol 38-12 up and on course for the Grand Final.
To their credit, Somerset never gave up and fought until the final minute. They grabbed a deserved consolation score on 62 minutes, full back Dan Hinton crossing for a try converted by the impressive Zingyama.
Star of the afternoon Jack Uren then confirmed Bristol’s superiority with two more scores – one converted by Farler – before Somerset’s Connor Perkins dived over out wide four minutes from time to end the visitors’ season on a high note.
Bristol’s injured captain Alex Potts, who took charge of the team from the sidelines due to player/coach Dom Swann’s absence, said: “There are a few things to work on ahead of next week’s Grand Final, but that was another strong performance. We were generally very good in defence, and in attack we got the right balance between punching holes with the forwards and getting the ball out wide. We’ll need to improve again to beat Bath next week, but having emerged victorious in our last encounter with them we know what it takes to beat them. It feels great to be in a Grand Final again and to be competing for silverware. Things have been hard off the field for the Sonics over the last 12 months, so it’s good to reward our dedicated players, fans and volunteers with a big day out.”
BRISTOL SONICS 48
T: Jack Uren 4, James Potts, Tom Verber, Simon Bannister, Matt Blacker, Sam Collins
G: Jack Farler 6 (from 9)
SOMERSET VIKINGS 22
T: Joe Bussell, Kelvin Zinyama, Dan Hinton, Connor Perkins
G: Kelvin Zinyama 3 (from 4)
Referee: Melvin Betteridge
Sonics: Ed Boxhall (prop forward)
Vikings: Joe Bussell (loose forward)
Jack Uren (Bristol Sonics)
BRISTOL SONICS: Jack Farler, Phil Tanner, Dan Stuart-Cummins, Kieran Harvey, James Potts, Lawrence Roycroft (captain), Simon Bannister, Sam Collins, Jack Uren, Olley Scholey, Matt Blacker, Joe Singleton, Tom Verber. Interchange (all used): Ashton Pullin, Gerald Darley, Will Obree, Sam Phillips, Ed Boxhall
SOMERSET VIKINGS: Dan Hinton, Cam Wheeler, James Collings, Jordan Tucker, Adam Twine, Ozzy Flowers, Kelvin Zinyama, Connor Caddick, Doug Caddick, Bob Blainey, Bailey Jackson, Aaron Woods, Joe Bussell. Interchange (all used): Jason Senior, George Burkenshaw, James Brakes, Connor Perkin, Zeky Cheng, Josh Evans.