post

TWO WINS ON SUPER SONICS SATURDAY

Saturday 5th July 2014 will forever be known as Super Sonics Saturday, as Bristol Sonics’ celebrated the club’s first festival of Rugby League by recording two vital wins.

 

The Sonics first team grabbed their first win of a difficult Conference League South season, ending an eight-match losing streak with an impressive 46-18 win over Oxford Cavaliers.

 

Previously, Sonics’ seconds had put in a gusty backs-against-the-wall performance to squeeze out Swindon St George 20-18 to record back-to-back wins in the West of England League for the first time this season.

 

With a bumper crowd cheering on the home sides, and junior academy training sessions kick-starting a memorable afternoon, it provided a perfect send-off for Sonics stalwart Aran Simm, who leaves for a new life down under later this week. “Simmo” was able to play a big part in the day, pulling on a shirt to put in a shift for the second team, as they held on to a slender two-point lead for the last 25 minutes of a nerve-shredding contest with Swindon.

 

The day’s big news, though, was the first team’s win over Oxford, who have been struggling in recent weeks and turned up one player short. The Cavaliers put in an admirable and gutsy display, and at no point took a backward step despite their struggles. They may have tired badly in the closing stages, but they gave as good as they got for 65 minutes.

 

From the start, it looked like being Bristol’s day. A mistake from Oxford 30 metres from their own line 3 minutes in gave the Sonics a scrum in a promising position. Loose forward Will Tobin scooped the ball up from the base of the scrum, scooted left and had enough juice to outrun the visitors’ defence and cross over for the opening try of the game.

 

Having started well, the Sonics began reverting to type. A string of penalties and mistakes early in the tackle count resulted in long periods of Oxford pressure. The Cavaliers blew a number of good positions, and the Sonics’ inability to keep hold of the ball while exiting their own 20 meant that the Cavaliers, attacking with as much gusto as they could muster, would cross the whitewash at some point.

 

There was therefore a grim inevitability about the way hooker Wes Newton picked through the home side’s goal line defence with depressing ease on 15 minutes, with Any Winfield’s conversion putting the Cavaliers ahead.

 

Three minutes later, with the Sonics once again camped in their own 20, Newton repeated the trick, crossing for a second try that was once again converted by Winfield.

 

Things weren’t going to plan for the Sonics, but on 26 minutes they finally began to click into gear. After squandering a good attacking position, the Sonics got the ball back 40 metres out and set about putting Oxford under pressure. A few tackles later, prop forward Tony Harvey surged through on the left and touched down. Sadly, full-back Michael Harrison couldn’t convert.

 

Six minutes later, the Sonics took the lead, and this time Harrison was the instigator. Spotting Oxford’s full-back standing deep, he put in a beautiful chip kick which was collected on the bounce by centre Mike Gaston. He managed to find Harrison with a delicious offload, and the British Army player sprinted away to touch down. He converted his own try to put Bristol 16-12 ahead.

 

Many in the crowd thought that Oxford would crumble, but to their credit the Cavaliers hit back hard. On the stroke of half time Wes Newton completed a brilliant hat-trick of tries – once again converted by Winfield – to put the visitors 18-16 up at the break.

 

A few stern words from coach Jason Talbot at half time had the desired effect, and the Sonics were a team transformed in the second half. Their line-speed was much better, their defence tighter, and their attack much more pleasing on the eye. As Oxford tired, Bristol took control of the game, slowly stretching their lead before piling on the points in the closing stages.

 

After four minutes of the second period the Sonics regained the lead, second-rower Dan Harvey – brother of prop Tony – somehow found enough strength to barge over from close range, with Harrison converting. Six minutes later Harvey crossed again from an almost identical position, putting the Sonics in a strong position at 26-18 with 50 minutes gone.

 

By now, the Sonics were punching holes in the tiring Oxford defence when they attacked, and easily wrapping up the Caveliers’ attackers when they had the ball. That said, Bristol were still prone to errors, and hooker Mitch Spencer’s reaction to having a try ruled out for a double movement ended with him being sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

 

It made little difference to the outcome, though, with the Sonics scoring four tries in the final 12 minutes. Harrison was again in the thick of the action, with his ugly offload giving winger Ryan Goodman the chance to force his way over in the right corner.

 

A few minutes later centre Shaun Allen scorched away from halfway for what looked like an inevitable score, but Oxford’s full-back brilliantly hauled him down inches from the line. With the Cavaliers defence still back-peddling, there was space for Bristol skipper Joe Singleton to scoop up the ball from acting half and dive over for a try underneath the posts. Harrison added the easy conversion.

 

With five minutes to go, Harrison broke clear and ran 45 metres to touch down between the posts – converting himself – before winger Jack Farler finished off a sweeping passing move to complete the scoring seconds from full-time.

 

It was a much-needed win given the side’s struggles this season, and naturally Head Coach Jason Talbot was delighted with the victory. He said: “We’ve been improving week on week, and today things finally went right for us. We did some good things in the first half, but our completion rate was poor and our goal-line defence left a lot to be desired. We addressed these concerns at half time and put in a much better second half performance. We shouldn’t get too carried away as we were playing a depleted side, but the way we kept them scoreless in the second half and scored plenty of points shows that we’ve turned the corner. Hopefully we can build on this over coming weeks, starting with next Saturday’s home game against Leicester.”

 

Earlier, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ provided home fans with plenty to cheer by holding off a late rally from Swindon St George to win 20-18 in the West of England League.

 

The Sonics started poorly, and were 12-0 down within as many minutes thanks to tries from Swindon’s Liam Rowe and Sam Argent, both converted by Gwyn Jenkins.

 

Slowly and surely the Sonics clawed their way back into the game, with half-back Rob Bell crossing from close range to register their first points of the afternoon. He converted his own try to put Bristol within six points of the visitors after 17 minutes.

 

Five minutes later the Sonics reduced the arrears further, veteran Johan Schoeman touching down in the corner after being released by winger Jordan Selig. Bell couldn’t convert, but it felt like Bristol had the wind in their sails.

 

Unfortunately, some handling errors and a string of penalties allowed Swindon a chance to hit back. From the position gained by a Bristol knock-on close to their line – admittedly under pressure from three Swindon attackers who looked to be offside – Gwyn Jenkins scooted over for a converted try the visitors a 10-point lead.

 

With seven minutes to go until half time, Rob Bell showed a great turn of speed to sprint away and touch down, with his conversion putting the Sonics 14-18 down at the break.

 

The second half was something of an arm wrestle, with defences dominating and both sides scrapping for the win. It took 15 minutes for the next score to come. In the end, it turned out to be decisive. Player/coach Tristan Moore, returning to the side after a number of weeks out, ran a perfect line to open up Swindon’s defence and touch down wide on the left. With Rob Bell off injured, it was left to hooker Harry Brooker to calmly add the extras and give Bristol a vital two-point lead.

 

As the game progressed and no further scores were added, tempers began to fray. Both sides just about managed to keep their cool. Swindon, though, blew a great opportunity to win it in the dying seconds, dropping the ball with the line begging. As it was, the Sonics held on for a vital win to send “Simmo” off to Australia a happy man.

post

GET READY FOR SUPER SONICS SATURDAY!

All four Bristol Sonics’ teams will be in action on the same day for the first time in the side’s history this Saturday (July 5th), as the club hosts the city’s first ever festival of Rugby League.

 

Super Sonics Saturday will take place on Saturday July 5th at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue Ground in Lockleaze, Bristol.

 

From 11.30am, sports fans will be able to take in no less than four games, with the club’s Under 14 and Under 16 Academy teams, adult second team, and adult first team all in action.

 

Entry for Super Sonics Saturday will be free all day, and fans will be able to quench their thirst and satisfy their appetite thanks to a bar and food. The club will also be holding a raffle, with exclusive Rugby League themed prizes including signed international shirts, match tickets and Sonics branded merchandise.

 

Special edition matchday programmes, featuring articles about the club and Rugby League in Bristol, will also be available.

 

The action begins at 11.30am with the Sonics Academy U14s and U16s simultaneously in action across two pitches. The Under 14s, who last weekend claimed a memorable 44-28 win away at Swansea Valley Rhinos, face Leicester Storm from the Midlands.

 

At 1pm, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ – the club’s second adult side – will be looking to continue their good run of form when they face local rivals Swindon St George in the West of England League.

 

The highlight of the day will then follow at 3pm, as the Sonics’ first team take on Oxford Cavaliers in Conference League South, one of the UK’s leading elite amateur Rugby League competitions.

 

Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said: “We’re all really excited about the prospect of hosting Bristol’s first Rugby League festival on July 5th. It means a lot to be able to have all of the club’s teams playing on the same day. Supporters can watch the future of the club in the shape of our under 14 and under 16 teams, and watch our adult sides battling it out with local rivals. The bar will be open and entry is free, so there’s no better chance to come and watch some Rugby League in Bristol, whether you’re a confirmed fan or an interested newcomer.”

 

For more details on Sonics Super Saturday, fans can visit www.bristolsonics.com, or connect with the club on Twitter via www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

post

SONICS GUNNED DOWN BY OUTLAWS

There were times on Saturday when it looked, albeit fleetingly, like Bristol Sonics’ winless run in Conference League South may be coming to an end. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, with the Sonics again succumbing to a heavy defeat – this time at the hands of 2013 Grand Finalists Nottingham Outlaws.

As with previous matches this season, the Sonics showed glimpses of greatness but were guilty of not controlling the ball, giving away too many penalties, and allowing tries from avoidable defensive lapses.

It was a familiar story for Bristol’s small travelling band of supporters, who had headed to the University of Nottingham Sports Ground more in hope than expectation.

For all the disappointment, Head Coach Jason Talbot could see positives in his side’s performance. He said: “For the first time in a while, I thought we really looked like a team. The lads who pulled on the jersey gave it everything. We made mistakes, of course, but the effort was outstanding. We’re a team in transition, with a number of inexperienced players who are still finding their feet at this level, and in Rugby League. Our progress is slow, but we’re getting there. I expect that first win of the season to come sooner rather than later.”

Nobody epitomized this desire and effort more than second-rower Joe Singleton, stepping into skipper Dom Swann’s shoes. The former second team captain and Sonics stalwart led from the front, putting in a tireless shift in attack and defense. His desire to get the Sonics out of their losing rut was plain to see.

Reflecting on the match, Singleton said: “It was an honour to captain the side today. We’re going through a tough run at present, and it’s demoralizing for all of us. On Saturday the lads really had a go, and when things clicked – as they seem to do in spells in matches – we were the better team. We need to make sure we can do this over 80 minutes, and that’s our big challenge over the coming weeks. Do that, and our first win of the year will come.”

The Sonics started well, but fell behind early on to a try wide on the left. They were soon back into the game, though, with an error by Nottingham 20 metres from their own line offering loose forward Will Tobin the chance to break from the base of the scrum and feed winger Freddie Blanks, who scuttled over in the left corner.

Bristol battled manfully for the remainder of the half, showing good glimpses and largely defending well, while opening themselves up to sucker punches. Having spotted a weakness in the Sonics’ right side defence, the Outlaws repeatedly attacked on that side, scoring three more tries – one converted – down that side before the interval. Still, all was not lost at 18-4 at half time.

The second half again started positively, with Bristol squandering a couple of good opportunities to score before Nottingham hit them with a long range try. Soon, the floodgates opened, and it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes when the Sonics regained some control and began to show their skills. By that time, the home side had added three more tries – two of which were scored by hooker Scott Morton – and were effectively home and hosed.

Still, Talbot would have been impressed by the way his side finished the game. An altercation between centre Mike Gaston and his opposite number from Nottingham seemed to fire up the Sonics, who hit back hard in the final quarter of the game.

There was a moment of glory for young winger Jack Farler, who sprinted all of 60 metres down the touchline to score after receiving a near perfect pass from Fraser Robinson. Nottingham scored a runaway try shortly afterwards, before Bristol ended the game on a high with arguably the try of the game.

From a “free play” following a Nottingham error, Lawrence Roycroft broke free on the halfway line and found Joe Singleton in support. He charged down the middle of the pitch, only to be hauled down by a covering defender. As he fell, he slipped out a wonder offload to the supporting Fraser Robinson, who sprinted away to touch down under the posts. Fullback Mike Harrisson capped an impressive first team debut by adding the extras.

It was hardly a great day for the Sonics, but the way they finished it gives everyone a little more hope for the games to come. Bristol now return home, and host Oxford Cavaliers at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground on Saturday (5th July). The match is part of “Sonics Super Saturday”, a free festival of Rugby League featuring all four of the club’s teams. Entrance is free, with the first match kicking off at 11.30am.

post

SONICS LOOK FOR RAPID IMPROVEMENT

Bristol Sonics’ players are so determined to turn around the club’s fortunes, starting with this Saturday’s game at home to Valley Cougars, that they’ve started turning up to training 20 minutes early.

 

Following the club’s fourth straight Conference League South defeat last weekend, the players decided to turn up to training sessions early in order to put in extra work.

 

Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann said: “After last Saturday’s defeat to Leicester the players got together and decided that we need to go that extra yard to turn around our fortunes sooner, rather than later. So we’ve started turning up at training 20 minutes early so that we can work on aspects of our game that we’ve been struggling with in matches. We all hate losing, and we hate making the same mistakes over and over again. This extra work is focused on cutting out those mistakes, both in defence and attack.”

 

The Sonics have lost each of their four 2014 Conference League South matches by wide margins, conceding over 40 points on each occasion. They are currently the only side without a win to their name and are rooted to the foot of the Conference League South table.

 

Bristol will be hoping this extra training will make a difference when they take on cross-Severn rivals Valley Cougars from Wales at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground this Saturday (7 June, Kick-off 2.30pm, free entry).

 

The Cougars have enjoyed a mixed start to the season, suffering a string of heavy losses but notching up an impressive win over Leicester Storm, who beat the Sonics 46-16 last weekend despite being down to 12 men for much of the game. Last weekend the Cougars travelled light to Champions Sheffield-Hallam Eagles and were beaten 120-6.

 

Sonics Head Coach Jason Talbot is expecting a much sterner test this weekend. He said: “Sometimes players let you down, and the fact that the Cougars went to Sheffield with 10 players has no bearing on this weekend’s match. They’ll be at full strength when they play us, as it’s a short trip and the Welsh-English rivalry is so intense. I’m expecting them to be a big, strong side that will pose a big test. If we’re going to win, we’ll have to dramatically improve, but we’ve been going well in training so hopefully we can translate that form into a win.”

 

Talbot has been particularly pleased with the commitment shown by his players of late. He said: “Numbers have been up at training recently and everyone is determined to turn our form around. I’ve been particularly pleased with the way the players took it on themselves to turn up early. That shows me that they’re hungry for success, and that there’s a steeliness there that was maybe lacking earlier in the season. You can tell a lot about players when they’re faced with adversity – the reaction we’ve shown to getting such a bad start to the season is encouraging.”

 

Bristol Sonics take on Valley Cougars at Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, on Saturday June 7th, kick-off 2.30pm.

 

Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics ‘A’, the club’s second string, return to action on Saturday when they travel to face local rivals Swindon St George. They’ll be hoping to notch up a morale-boosting victory.

post

TALBOT: SONICS “HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION”

Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Jason Talbot believes his side is “heading in the right direction”, despite a disappointing start to the season.

 

The Sonics are rooted to the bottom of Conference League South following a trio of heavy defeats, but Talbot remains convinced that his side will be in the play-off picture at the end of the season.

 

Talbot, who took over coaching duties at the Sonics in January, said: “We’ve had a tough start to the season, but we’re heading in the right direction. In each game we’ve had decent spells, we just need to play better for longer periods. With so many personnel changes over the close season, this team is still a work in progress. We’ve barely trained together as a squad due to a number of factors, but over the last couple of weeks numbers have improved and the commitment is impressive. It will still take time to get where we want to be, but the signs are good.”

 

This Saturday, (May 31st) the Sonics travel to the East Midlands to face old foes Leicester Storm. The Storm has enjoyed a mixed start to the season, but should prove a stern test for the struggling Sonics.

 

Last season, the Sonics twice came from behind to claim dramatic, last-gasp victories in Leicester, and captain Dom Swann would love a repeat performance. He said: “In both of those matches last year we struggled for long periods, but we had enough desire and belief to hang in the game and take our chances when they came. We may need a similar sort of backs-against-the-wall performance on Saturday to defeat what I hear is a big, strong Leicester side. We could do with getting a win sooner rather than later, and Saturday would be a great time to notch up our first points of the season”.

 

Bristol Sonics A, the club’s second team, will also be looking to notch up their first win of the season when they host Oxford Cavaliers A at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground (K.O 2.30pm, free entry).

 

The Sonics’ second string, which features a number of young players from the club’s Academy set-up, produced a stirring second half comeback in their first game of the campaign a fortnight ago. Although they lost 70-50 at local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors, there were many promising signs for coach Tristan Moore.

 

He said: “We struggled a bit to begin with at Gloucester, but we were excellent in the second half. We trailed 38-8 at half-time, so to score 42 points in the second half was a tremendous achievement. Many sides would have folded, but the lads dug in and showed what we can do. We’ll be looking to tighten up defensively this weekend and hopefully that will be enough to put us on the road to a first win of the season.”

 

In a big weekend for the Sonics, the club’s Under-16 Academy Side will also play their first match of the season. They travel to Cheltenham to face Old Patesians on Sunday.

 

post

COACH KEEN TO WELCOME NEW PLAYERS

Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Jason Talbot has confirmed that the club is looking for new players for the 2014 Rugby League season, which begins in April.

The Sonics begin pre-season training on Wednesday 26th February, and Talbot is keen to welcome new faces.

Training sessions will take place weekly on Wednesday nights (7-8:30pm) at Dings Crusaders RFC in Lockleaze. Talbot is keen to stress that places in both the first and second team squads are always up for grabs.

I want to make it clear that all of our sides are picked on merit,” the Dewsbury-born coach said. “If you commit to coming down to training and want to play Rugby League, regardless of whether you’ve played the sport before, you’ll be considered for selection and will almost certainly get a game. There’s a difference in standard between the first and second teams, but many of our first team regulars started out in the second team and progressed to the firsts. If you’re good enough and willing to learn, we’d love to have you on board.”

The Sonics run two open-age adult teams. The club’s first team plays in the elite Conference League South competition, while the seconds play in the more social West of Englnad League.

We’re looking for players of all abilities,” Talbot said. “If you take your rugby seriously and want to progress, we can offer a high standard with our first team. We have players who come from good quality amateur and semi-professional rugby union clubs, players brought up on League, students and keen youngsters. Some of our other players hadn’t played much rugby of either code at all until they came to us, but have worked hard and are now first team regulars. If that standard’s too high for you but you want to give it a go, our second team players and coaches will make you very welcome.

Whatever your motivation, we’d love to see you at training.”

Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, who has been with the club since its first season in 2003, echoed Talbot’s sentiments. He said: “Rugby League is a terrific sport to play – it’s all action, with big hits, but the basics are easy to learn. Many of us started playing union, so if you’ve played that code you should be able to pick up League pretty easily. If you haven’t, you can still make the grade. If you’ve ever watched Super League on Sky or the Challenge Cup on the BBC and thought ‘I’d like to give that a go’, I’d encourage you to come down to training and see for yourself.”

Bristol Sonics will be training weekly on Wednesday nights at Dings Crusaders RFC, Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, Bristol, BS7 9YS (see map below) from 26th February. Sessions, which last an hour and a half, begin at 7pm.

post

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.

post

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)

post

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

post

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