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SUPER SONICS SATURDAY

Bristol Sonics will be in a celebratory mood this Saturday, as they host their final scheduled Conference League South game of the season at Clifton RFC.

The Sonics will return to Station Road in September for a home play-off fixture, almost certainly against Saturday’s opponents, Nottingham Outlaws.

The Sonics secured second place in the League, and a home play-off tie, thanks to a dramatic, late 30-28 win at Leicester Storm next weekend.

For their final home league fixture of the season, the Sonics are laying on a post-match barbecue and are encouraging local sports fans to turn up in their droves and celebrate a successful season for the city’s Rugby League club.

The BBQ doubles as the end-of-season party and presentation for the club’s junior section. Under 14 and under 16 players, and their families, are being encouraged to turn up early and take it what promises to be a bruising, tense first team fixture against Nottingham.

Entry to watch the game is free for all, while Clifton RFC’s bar will be open all afternoon for those who fancy a tipple.

The Sonics will once again be without a number of first team regulars for the game against Nottingham, but Head Coach Karl Fearnley is hopeful of welcoming back a number of players, as his squad gears up for the end-of-season play-offs and a tilt at Grand Final glory.

Fearnley, who missed last Saturday’s game in Leicester due to work commitments, said: “Now we’ve secured second spot in the League, we want to get some form going into the play-offs. I hear that the second team players who stepped up against Leicester played terrifically well, so they’ll get another chance to impress this weekend. We’ve always said that first team places will be awarded on merit, and they’ve earned another chance to impress.

“Although the result isn’t important on Saturday, we’ll be looking to put in another good performance against a top Nottingham side, in order to get some confidence and match fitness ahead of the play-offs. Games against the Outlaws are usually entertaining, and with the barbecue afterwards, it should be a terrific afternoon.”

Before the game, Sonics first team players are planning to take a trip up to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta at Ashton Court Estate, to help with the promotion of the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup match in Bristol, which takes place at the Memorial Stadium in October. The Rugby League World Cup trophy will be on display at the Balloon Fiesta from Thursday 8th August until Saturday 10 August, as part of the nation-wide RLWC 2013 Trophy Tour.

Bristol Sonics take on Nottingham Outlaws at Clifton RFC, Henbury, on Saturday 10 August, kick-off 2.30pm.

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SONICS STUN STORM IN THRILLER

A converted try from hooker Nick Portch with the last play of the game earned Bristol Sonics another dramatic, last-gasp 30-28 win over Leicester Storm.

 

With referee David Butler poised to blow for full time, Portch produced a moment of magic to dive over for the try that levelled the scores at 28-apiece. Sonics’ skipper Dom Swann kept his nerve to slot over the conversion from a tricky angle to earn Bristol their second last-minute win at New College, Leicester, in the space of four months.

 

Earlier in the season, the Sonics stole the points from the home side when veteran half back James Gross somehow squeezed over in the left corner with seconds remaining. Portch’s try came in similar circumstances, and fittingly was scored in almost exactly the same spot.

 

For Bristol, the victory was extra sweet given the circumstances surrounding the game. Missing a string of first team regulars and forced to travel with 15 (plus player/coach Aran Simm, who didn’t make it on to the pitch in the end), the Sonics were up against it from the start. Yet the players who stepped up from the second team – Nick Portch, Lee Bartlett, Alex Potts, Joe Singleton and Myles Raymond – fully justified their selection, playing an integral part in what will go down as one of the Sonics’ most memorable wins to date.

 

Things didn’t start particularly well for Bristol. After an error-strewn opening Leicester took the lead on seven minutes. The Sonics were culpable of dropping the ball in their own half, and the home side took full advantage. The ball was worked wide to the winger, who strolled in unopposed.

 

On 18 minutes Leicester extended their lead with a simple try, as a Storm player brushed off some weak attempted tackles to dive over beneath the posts. The conversion made it 10-0.

 

The home side were in control at this point. While Bristol made yards down the flanks, they were guilty of making too many errors and didn’t seem to be playing with the sort of fluidity fans have come to expect from the Sonics.

 

Slowly, things began to improve. As the half wore on Bristol began to enjoy more possession and good field position, and eventually made the home side pay. On 29 minutes loose forward Jake Robertson barged through a string of would-be tacklers on a 40-metre dash to the try line. Swann converted from the left touchline to reduce the arrears to four points.

 

Then, three minutes later, the Sonics levelled the scores when top try-scorer Marcus Brooker powered his way over from 10 metres out. Swann couldn’t convert.

 

Bristol looked to be getting on top, but within three minutes the home side had retaken the lead. Following a Sonics’ error 20 metres from their own line, Leicester probed the Bristol line for four tackles before finally breaching the visitors’ defence. The easy conversion put the home side six points ahead.

 

Worse was to come for Bristol in the dying seconds of the first half. Having earned good field position from another Leicester knock-on 30 metres from their own line, the Sonics sensed blood. Instead, the ball was intercepted by a Leicester player, who raced 70 metres before passing to a teammate, who dived over under the posts. The conversion sailed between the uprights, giving the home side a 22-10 lead at the break.

 

Having looked rusty and, at times, jaded in the first period, it seemed that Bristol would struggle in the second half. Crucially, though, they would be playing down New College’s sloping pitch, giving them a potential advantage in the closing stages if the game was close.

 

The Sonics began the half with real purpose, and scored within a minute of the restart. Having spotted a weakness in the home side’s right side defence (Bristol’s left edge attack), Marcus Brooker took full advantage, again forcing his way over to score his second try of the afternoon. It was his 16th of the season, tying Dom Swann’s club record for tries in a campaign. Swann couldn’t convert, but the Sonics were back in the game.

 

Something of an arm wrestle developed, as Bristol probed down the flanks and did their best to put the home side under pressure. For their part, Leicester looked rattled. Their error count increased, and they began to give away needless penalties.

 

Eventually, Bristol’s pressure told. On 58 minutes hooker Nick Portch burrowed his over from close range on the left for a try, converted by Swann, which left the Sonics trailing by just two points.

 

It would get worse before it got better, though. Having clawed their way back into contention, the Sonics’ slipped further behind with 12 minutes remaining. Some loose tackling allowed Leicester’s full back to surge through a gap and touch down under the posts. The conversion extended the home side’s lead to eight points.

 

The Sonics, though, have previous form when it comes to late comebacks, having won several games from losing positions this season. They were playing well and, surprisingly, looked the fresher and fitter of the two sides in the closing stages.

 

With eight minutes remaining, Bristol gave themselves hope with a brilliantly taken try from winger James Raymond, who dived in at the right corner after a wonderful, flowing, left-to-right passing move. Swann couldn’t convert, but the Sonics were now just four points behind.

 

As the clock ticked down, Bristol seemed to waste their big chance to sneak a win. With less than 2 minutes remaining, the Sonics spurned a four man overlap on the left and somehow lost the ball.

 

But the drama wasn’t over. Needing to simply complete a set of six to seal the win, Leicester dropped the ball 20 metres from their own line with a minute to go. One scrum and two tackles later, Nick Portch found himself at acting half back, two metres from Storm’s tryline. Sensing the Brooker brothers hovering at the left edge, looking for the ball, Leicester’s defenders instinctively shifted towards them. Portch feigned to pass in that direction before stepping the other way and diving through the resultant gap to level the scores.

 

With time up, skipper Swann had a chance to give his side victory. Taking a few deep breaths, he calmly slotted the conversion between the sticks and let out a primal roar. Once again, the Sonics had won a game they looked like losing.

 

Afterwards, Swann was predictably ecstatic. He said: “That has to go down as one of our best results of the season. It wasn’t a great performance, but we got better as the match went on and in the second half we were definitely the better side. What makes it so special is the side we had out. Lots of lads were asked to step up from the seconds and they all lifted their game. It will be hard to drop them now – playing like that should earn them a chance to play in our remaining league fixtures and stake a claim for a place in the team for the play-offs.”

 

The Sonics next face third-placed Nottingham Outlaws at Clifton RFC on Saturday 10th August (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

MATCH FACTS

 

Bristol Sonics scorers

Tries: Jake Robertson (29 minutes), Marcus Brooker 2 (33 mins, 41 mins), Nick Portch 2 (58 mins, 80 mins), James Raymond (75 mins)

Conversions:  Dom Swann 3 (from 6)

 

Scoring sequence

4-0, 10-0, 10-4, 10-6, 10-10, 16-10, 22-10, 22-14, 22-20, 28-20, 28-24, 28-30

 

Half-time

22-10

 

Referee

David Bulter

 

Man of the Match

Nick Portch (hooker)

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SONICS AIM TO GET BACK IN THE GROOVE

Bristol Sonics return to Conference League South action this Saturday (August 3) for the first time in three weeks, with a tricky trip to Leicester Storm.

 

The Sonics, who sit second in the table going into the latter stages of the season, are aiming to get back into form in time for the play-offs, which begin at the end of the month.

 

They face a tough task on Saturday at New College, Leicester, against a well organized, in-form Storm side that has begun to find some form in recent times.

 

The last time the sides met in Leicester, earlier in the season, the Sonics required a last-gasp try from veteran back James Gross to take home the points. Bristol generally have a poor record in Leicester, and will have to be at the top of their game to breach the home side’s miserly defence.

 

To make matters worse, Bristol are set to be without a string of first team regulars, though they can take some comfort from the return of skipper Dom Swann, experienced forward Wes Rodgers and a clutch of on-loan players from partner club the University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley could also include a number of players who impressed for the club’s second team, whose season finished two weeks ago with a comprehensive victory over Swindon St George.

 

Sonics’ captain Dom Swann is relishing his return to action, and has urged his side to re-focus ahead of the end-of-season play-offs.

 

Swann said: “From the very start of the season, our focus has been getting to the Grand Final in Hemel. We started the season well, but as time has passed we’ve looked a little fragile defensively and we’ve not been able to get a settled side. The next three games give us a great opportunity to re-focus and find some form ahead of the play-offs.

 

“It will be very difficult at Leicester. They’re a tough, well-organised side, coached by someone with professional experience, Dean Thomas. They’ve been in great form of late and they’ll be desperate to get another win to try and secure third in the League, or even second if we slip-up.

 

“We want to go into the play-offs in the best possible form. To do that we need to take these next three games seriously, play to our plans and start getting some rhythm back into our play.”

 

Bristol Sonics face Leicester Storm at New College, Leicester, on Saturday 3rd August, kick-off 3pm. Fans can follow match and score updates online at http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

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FEAST OF RL IN BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND

Would-be Rugby League fans are being treated to a feast of Rugby League in Bristol this weekend, as the countdown to the city’s involvement in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup intensifies.

Fans keen to get a taste of League before the city hosts a World Cup game between USA and the Cook Islands in October can take in no less than FOUR matches in Bristol this weekend, with games spread over Saturday and Sunday.

 

Both Bristol Sonics’ adult sides will be in action on Saturday at Clifton RFC, Henbury, with the action starting at 1pm as the club’s second team aims to boost their West of England League play-off hopes with a win over local rivals Somerset Vikings.

 

Then, from 2.30pm, the Sonics take on fellow Conference League South title rivals Sheffield Hallam Eagles in a must-win shoot-out for top spot.

 

The Sonics currently sit top of the Conference League South table, one point ahead of pre-season favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles, a club set up by Sheffield Hallam Eagles and 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners Sheffield Eagles, and featuring many players from the latter’s “performance pathway”.

 

When the two sides met on the opening day of the season at Don Valley Stadium, home of the Eagles’ professional side and training base for London 2012 Gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill, it was the Sonics who prevailed in a high scoring thriller. Yet when the two sides last clashed, at Dings in early June, it was Sheffield who won, battering the home side in another entertaining contest.

 

The two could yet meet in the end-of-season Grand Final at Hemel Stags’ Pennine Way ground in September, but neither side are looking that far ahead. With top spot at stake, both teams will be focused on getting a win on Saturday.

 

Sonics coach Aran Simm, who will be coaching both sides on Saturday due to the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley, said: “We’ve got a chance to do something very special on Saturday, but it will be incredibly difficult. Sheffield are a top side full of talented young players, some of whom are pressing for selection to the Eagles’ Championship side, which shows their quality. If we win it would be a momentous result. We’ve already beaten them once this season, so we know it can be done. Whatever happens, it should be a superb, high quality, highly intense game of Rugby League.”

 

Simm will have to make do without a string of Sonics’ first team regulars, including captain Dom Swann, prop Daniel Brooker and loose forward Rob Verber. He can welcome back hooker Harry Marson, and hopes to have experienced forward Wes Rodgers available after a short injury lay-off.

 

Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole is excited by the prospect of Saturday’s double-header at Clifton. He said: “This is the first, and possibly only, time this season both adult teams will be at home on the same afternoon. With both games meaning a lot to the teams’ league position, we’d love to get a big crowd to support the lads. They’ve been doing great things on the pitch for a while now, so it would be great for the Bristol public to get behind them. Even if you’ve never been to watch a Rugby League match before, we can guarantee you’ll be entertained.”

 

Entrance to Clifton on Saturday is £3, including complimentary, full colour matchday programme.

 

The Rugby League action continues on Sunday, as the Sonics’ juniors face their counterparts from Old Patesians, Cheltenham, at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (10.30am start, free entry). The Sonics under 14 and under 16 teams will both be in action, for only their second outing of the season, following games against Aber Valley in Wales last month.

For more information about the Sonics, fans are advised to check out www.bristolsonics.com and www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL
SATURDAY 6th JULY
Clifton RFC, Henbury
13.00 – Bristol Sonics ‘A’ v Somerset Vikings (West of England League)
14.30 – Bristol Sonics v Sheffield Hallam Eagles (Conference League South)
Entrance £3 including programme
SUNDAY 7th JULY
Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze
10.30 – Bristol Sonics U16 v Chletenham Old Patesians U16
followed by Bristol Sonics U14 v Cheltenham Old Patesians U14
Free entrance
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SOLID SONICS GRIND OUT WIN

Marcus Brooker grabbed four tries as Bristol Sonics ground out a 32-0 win against Conference League South strugglers St Albans Centurions at Landseer Avenue.

 

The win cements the Sonics’ place at the top of the Conference League South table, one point ahead of next week’s visitors, Sheffield-Hallam Eagles, who romped to a 62-20 win over third-placed Nottingham Outlaws.

 

The Sonics began the game strongly, forcing an error from Centurions’ full back Gareth Waters following a high kick from Daniel Brooker. Following the scrum, the ball was worked left to Marcus Brooker, who slipped an offload inside to supporting runner Dan Evans, who dived over to open the scoring after just two minutes. Daniel Brooker, who would later go off with a painful hip injury, slotted over the conversion in a swirling wind.

 

Bristol failed to build on their positive opening and were soon on the back foot. St Albans ran hard, cleverly picking out perceived weaknesses in the home side’s defence. For their part, Bristol struggled to retain possession, gave away some needless penalties and spent most of the first 30 minutes defending in their own half. Thankfully, the Sonics held firm, forcing errors from their opponents in good positions.

 

In attack, Bristol were wasteful, and their lack of completion was a constant frustration for players and supporters alike. Despite a great all-round performance from hooker Rory Sharratt, who was rightly named man-of-the-match, the Sonics struggled to get any fluidity with ball in hand, and too often resorted to trundling it down the middle. On the rare occasions they did get the ball wide quickly, St Albans struggled to cope.

 

On 28 minutes, a series of relieving penalties allowed Bristol a rare chance to attack the Centurions’ line. They gleefully took the opportunity, Marcus Brooker powering his way over from close range. Brother Daniel again converted, curling the ball between the uprights to make the score 12-0.

 

Less than two minutes later, the Sonics extended their lead further. After working their way down field, Marcus Brooker again powered over from close range, this time taking several tacklers with him as he crossed the whitewash. This time, Daniel couldn’t convert, but at 16-0 things were looking pretty rosy, despite the patchy performance.

 

To their credit, St Albans didn’t let their heads’ drop, and roared back in the latter stages of the first half. They lay siege to the Sonics’ line for the last five minutes of the half, but simply couldn’t find a way through Bristol’s watertight defence. Having done the hard work setting up great field position, they lacked composure and didn’t quite have enough to cross the whitewash.

 

The arm-wrestle continued early in the second period, with St Albans making good yards down the middle and Bristol defending stoutly, despite sluggish line speed. The Sonics, for their part, continued to struggle to complete sets and still lacked some spark in attack. With scrum half Johan Schoeman off injured, responsibility fell to first team debutant Alex Potts, who earned his chance through some eye-catching performances for the second team. He seemed to warm to the play-making role as the match went on.

 

Eventually, Bristol began to enjoy more possession and field position. On 60 minutes, a rare chance to attack in St Albans’ territory ended, predictably, with another close range score for man-of-the-moment Marcus Brooker. The powerful centre again forced his way over from five metres out, just to the left of the posts, to complete his third hat-trick of the season. With Daniel Brooker off injured, Rory Sharratt stepped up to slot over an easy conversion.

 

Ten minutes later, it got better for Brooker and Bristol. When St Albans’ centre David Coyle made a hash of a poor pass from Sam Norris 10 metres from the Sonics’ line, the ball was hacked forward by Johan Schoeman. Dan Evans won the race to the ball, and somehow managed to snaffle it up before Centurions’ full back Gareth Waters. From the resultant play-the-ball, Rory Sharratt and Alex Potts combined to release Marcus Brooker on the left, 40 metres out. He swerved his way past two covering defenders before jogging away to touch down for his fourth try of the afternoon, and second four-try haul of the season.

 

With St Albans wilting, the Sonics began to find more space and make more ground with ball in hand. It took less than two minutes for Bristol to score again, Sharratt and Potts releasing Dan Evans on the right, who cut through St Albans’ defence like a hot knife through butter and cantered 35 metres to touch down. Alex Potts slotted over the conversion to make it 32-0 and complete the scoring.

 

After the game, Sonics’ coach Aran Simm was full of praise for his side’s defensive display. He said: “We struggled at times today in attack, but the lads put in a massive defensive shift and that’s what made the difference. St Albans played with a lot of heart and the half time scoreline of 16-0 to us was a bit flattering, if I’m honest. We improved as the game wore on, and deserved the win, but it wasn’t perhaps the dominant performance I’d have liked.

 

“All the lads who played today put in a massive shift. It’s rare in Rugby League that you ‘nil’ a team, and I’m told that the Sonics have only ever managed it once before. That’s something we should take from this game. Our linespeed could be a lot quicker, and we’ll need to work on that in training, but there weren’t many missed tackles and for the most part we controlled the play the ball. We’ll need to improve next week, but this is a step in the right direction.”

 

Meanwhile, an under strength Bristol Sonics ‘A’ side showed great heart in a 74-18 loss to Gloucestershire Warriors at Old Centralians, Gloucester. The Sonics second-string, which features a number of promising youngsters and committed veterans, will be hoping for a better result when they take on Somerset Vikings at home next Saturday, in a curtain raiser for the first team clash with Sheffield-Hallam Eagles.

 

BRISTOL SONICS (v ST ALBANS CENTURIONS, 29/6/13)

Dan Evans (2 Tries), James Raymond, Mike Gaston, Marcus Brooker (4 Tries), Will Tobin; Alex Potts (1 Goal), Johan Schoeman; Daniel Brooker (2 goals), Rory Sharratt (1 goal), Jack Spooner, Neil Evans, Tom Verber, Rob Verber (captain.

Interchange (all used): Curtis Asante, Joe Singleton, Gary Carpenter, Jack Gibson.

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NEW-LOOK SONICS SET FOR CENTS TEST

Conference League South leaders Bristol Sonics return to action this Saturday, when they take on St Albans Centurions in the first of three consecutive home games.

 

The Sonics have traditionally enjoyed a strong record at home, and have lost just once in Bristol this season – a 36-30 reverse to fellow title-chasers Sheffield-Hallam Eagles. With the Eagles boasting a game in hand and due to visit Bristol next weekend, the Sonics will be looking to make the most of tomorrow’s game with strugglers St Albans at Landseer Avenue, home of Dings Crusaders RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

Bristol will have to do without skipper, goal-kicker and main playmaker Dom Swann, who is currently away on his honeymoon. It will be the first time this season that the Sonics have played without the inspirational Swann, who will also miss next week’s rematch with Sheffield.

 

With other regular playmakers also missing, South African Johan Schoeman returns to scrum half, with second team graduate Alex Potts likely to deputize for Swann at stand-off. Gloucestershire All Golds’ Rory Sharratt, a regular for the Sonics this season, looks set to continue at hooker.

 

Second team player/coach Aran Simm will be coaching the first team in the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley. Simm expects a tough game against a St Albans side who have won only once this year.

 

Simm said: “Despite their results, St Albans are a decent side and I’d expect them to give us a very tough game. If we’re just a little bit off our game they’ll punish us. When we last met in St Albans we won comfortably, but with players missing and new halfbacks it may take us some time to gel. We’ll only win if we play well, so we need to be on our game right from the first whistle.”

 

To encourage more spectators to come down and show their support for summer Rugby League, the Sonics are offering free entry to the game on Saturday.

 

Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole said: “With the Rugby League World Cup coming to Bristol later in the year, there’s no better time to check out some live Rugby League. By making entrance free, we hope that many new fans will take the opportunity to check out the sport for themselves. I started out as a rugby union supporter in my youth, but was converted by the speed, excitement and intensity of Rugby League.  If you’ve not been to a live match, it’s worth checking out Saturday’s game for free.”

 

Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ travel to West of England League form side Gloucestershire Warriors (Old Centralians RFC, Gloucester, K.O 2.30pm) on Saturday, buoyed by an impressive win over Oxford Cavaliers last weekend.

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BIG WEEKEND AHEAD FOR BRISTOL RL

Four Bristol Sonics sides will take to the field this weekend, for the first time in 2013.

 

Both of the club’s open age teams are in action, with valuable league points at stake, while Bristol’s next generation of Rugby League players will make their bow with Under 14 and Under 16 games against Caerphilly.

 

On Saturday, the Sonics’ first team aim to keep pace with Southern Conference League leaders Sheffield Hallam Eagles by beating much-improved Leicester Storm at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (kick-off 2.30pm, entrance £3 including programme, under 16s free).

 

Meanwhile, the Sonics’ seconds face a daunting trip down the M5 to take on old rivals Somerset Vikings in the West of England League. Having lost two games on the bounce, Bristol will be keen to get back to winning ways against a strong home team who also tasted defeat last weekend.

 

Then, on Sunday, the club’s Under 14 and Under 16 teams will play their first games of 2013. Both sides face their counterparts from Caerphilly at Virginia Park, home of Caerphilly RFC.

 

The Sonics first team will be without a host of regulars when they try to come to terms with old rivals Leicester Storm on Saturday. The Sonics needed a last-minute try from veteran scrum half James Gross to secure victory when they last met at New College, Leicester in May.

 

Since then, both sides have been in decent form, with Leicester picking up wins over St Albans and Nottingham, and providing a number of problems for title favourites Sheffield Hallam at Don Valley Stadium last weekend. The Sonics, meanwhile, have lost only once this season and last week laboured to a 36-24 win at Northampton Demons.

 

Leicester are renowned for their strong defense, hard-running forwards and excellent fitness levels. With ex Sheffield Eagles Academy coach Dean Thomas at the helm, the Storm have made great strides in recent weeks. They will provide a stern test of the Sonics’ title credentials.

 

Bristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann is expecting a very difficult game on Saturday. He said: “All our games against Leicester are close, tight affairs. Although we’ve moved ahead of them in recent seasons, this year they’ve closed the gap. They’ll try and slow us down, take their chances and grind out a win. If we’re going to beat them we need to put together a proper ’80-minute performance’, something we’ve struggled with of late.”

 

Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley looks set to be without a string of first choice players, meaning he could look to partner club and Championship 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds for reinforcements. He may also call up a few experienced heads from the second team, as he juggles his resources ahead of a big weekend for Rugby League in Bristol.

 

Bristol Sonics take on Leicester Storm at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze, on Saturday 8 June, kick-off 2.30pm.

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SONICS JUNIORS SET FOR 2013 DEBUT

Bristol Sonics’ juniors will play their first matches of the season this Sunday (9 June), as they travel to take on Welsh side Caerphilly at Virginia Park.

 

Both under 14 and under 16 teams will be in action for the first time this year, with the first match kicking off at 11am.

 

Players and parents, who will be required where possible to drive players over to Wales, are asked to meet at Dings Crusaders RFC in Lockleaze, Bristol – the current location for ‘Sonic Youth’ training – at 9am. Alternatively, parents and players can meet the rest of the squad at Virginia Park at 10.15am, in time to get changed and warm-up.

 

Players must be registered with the club and the RFL to play, with forms signed by a parent or guardian. Those who have yet to register will be able to do so on the day.

 

Players are asked to confirm their availability and attendance by emailing juniors@bristolsonics.com, or by contacting coach Dan Brooker directly on brooker20@hotmail.co.uk

 

For those going direct, the address of the ground in Wales is:

 

Caerphilly RFC

Virginia Park

Virginia Close

Caerphilly

CF83 3JA

 

 

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SONICS WARY OF DEMONS AND WARRIORS

Bristol Sonics’ two adult sides are looking to back to winning ways this Saturday, following the disappointment of losing close matches to top-of-the-table rivals a fortnight ago.

Sonics’ first team, who surrendered their unbeaten record in Conference League South two weeks ago after slipping to a 36-30 loss to title favourites Sheffield-Hallam Eages, travel to Northampton Demons with a point to prove.

 

The last time the Sonics visited Northampton in 2011 they routed the home side by 60 points, but the scoreline was much tighter when the two sides clashed in Bristol earlier in the season. The Demons recently notched up their first (and so far only) win of the year, and will be looking to celebrate their debut at new home ground Durston Road by picking up another victory.

 

The Sonics have a good record over the Demons, having beaten them on three of the four occasions they’ve met, but skipper Dom Swann is under no illusions about the task that faces Bristol on Saturday.

 

He said: “Northampton are a big, physical, well organised team who try and get under the opposition’s skin and force them to lose their composure. We know that they will try and disrupt our natural game and wind us up. We just have to do the basics and play to our game plan. If we do that, we stand a very good chance of getting back to winning ways. If we don’t, it could be a difficult aftermoon.”

 

The Sonics are boosted by the return of long-serving prop forward Gary Carpenter, following a season-long spell in rugby union with Bridgend. Tough second-rower Matt Douglas is set to make his first appearance of the season from the bench, while Dan Evans returns to fullback after missing the Sheffield-Hallam game. Hard-running second-rower Nico Flanaghan is also in line to return, while Joel James – brother of Wales international Jordan James – gets another chance to impress at scrum half.

 

Sonics’ second team, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their loss to West of England League champions Oxford Cavaliers when they face local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze (kick-off 3.30pm, free entry).

 

It took the Sonics nearly five years to pick up their first win over the Warriors, but since then they have largely held the upper hand in contests between the sides. However, their West of England League record against the Gloucester-based side is mixed, and they will have to be at their best to win on Saturday.

 

Sonics’ seconds could come up against hooker Matt Williams, who appeared for the Sonics’ first team earlier this season but has since decided to return to his local club.

 

Sonics’ player/coach Arran Simm is expected to name a strong side to face the Warriors.

 

He said: “We all get on very well with the players and staff at the Warriors, but we always want to win. It’s our oldest and fiercest local derby. They’ve been in good form of late so we’ll have to play well, especially in defence, to stand a chance. The team we have out will be a blend of youth and experience, with familiar faces and newcomers both featuring. It should be a good game.”

 

Bristol Sonics first team squad to face Northampton Demons: Dan Evans, James Raymond, Mike Gaston, Marcus Brooker, Andre Samura, Dom Swann (captain), Joel James, Dan Brooker, Rort Sharratt, Gary Carpenter, Jake Robertson, Nico Flanaghan, Rob Verber, Matt Douglas, Sam Blaney, Jack Spooner, Jack Gibson, Dean Brooker, Wes Rodgers.

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SONICS SET FOR SHEFFIELD SHOWDOWN

Bristol Sonics’ unbeaten record will face its sternest test of the season on Saturday, when form team Sheffield Hallam Eagles make the long trip Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze.

 

With the Sonics usual home ground Clifton RFC unavailable for the next four weeks due to urgent pitch repairs, Saturday’s crunch game will be played at Landseer Avenue in Lockleaze, home of rugby union National League 2 side Dings Crusaders.

 

The Sonics will be based at Landseer Avenue until the end of June. That means all first and second team games, and under-14 and under-16 coaching sessions, which begin this Sunday (19th May, 10.30am), will take place at Dings’ famous home ground.

 

Saturday’s game is undoubtedly the most important game of the season so far for both sides. The Sonics won a high scoring nail-biter when the two sides clashed on the opening day of the season, but since then the Eagles have swept aside all-comers with ease.

 

The Sonics have yet to taste defeat this season, having won all five of their Conference League South matches. While there have been some comfortable victorties, including last weekend’s 40-6 away win at St Albans, the Sonics have yet to hit top form.

 

With Sheffield Hallam able to call on Academy players from professional side Sheffield Eagles, the 2012 Kingstone Press Championship winners, Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley knows his side face a tough task on Saturday.

 

Fearnley said: “If we’re not at the top of our game on Saturday, the Eagles will rip us apart. They’re a fantastic side, and can call on some extremely talented young players, some who have huge futures in professional Rugby League. The key battle will be in the forwards. If we can slow them down and win that battle, we’ll have a great chance of winning. It should be a cracking game.”

 

Fearnley is sweating on the fitness of influential captain Dom Swann, who inspired his team to victory last weekend. The veteran stand-off will have a fitness test before the game. The Sonics will also be without hookers Harry Marson, who impressed last weekend, and Matt Williams, who has chosen to step down to Tier 4 and play with his local side, Gloucestershire Warriors.

 

Sonics second team will be looking to build on their good start to the West of England League season when they travel to Oxford Cavaliers on Saturday.

 

Last weekend the Sonics’ Seconds opened their account with a hard-fought 26-20 win over bitter local rivals Swindon St George.

 

Bristol Sonics face Sheffield Hallam Eagles at Dings Crusaders RFC, Lockleaze, on Saturday 18 May, kick-off 2.30pm.