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)
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