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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

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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.

 

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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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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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OLD FOES LIE IN WAIT FOR UNBEATEN BRISTOL

Bristol Sonics’ Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley has called on his players to “remain focused” against old rivals Leicester Storm on Saturday (20 April).

The Sonics travel to New College, Leicester, keen to extend their winning start to the season to three games. They face a Leicester Storm side who have yet to record a victory after stepping up to Conference League South at the beginning of the season.

The two sides have clashed many times over the years, with the Sonics pipping the Storm to the RLC Midlands Premier title in 2011. Contests between the clubs have sometimes been tense, angry affairs, and Fearnley has warned his side to remain disciplined at all times.

Fearnley said: “First and foremost, I want the lads to remain focused at all times on Saturday. We’re there to get a job done – to win the match and get the points. The best way to achieve that outcome is to stick to our game plan, keep our discipline and let our rugby do the talking. Leicester hasn’t made the best start to the season, but they’re a real threat – they are very strong defensively and usually good in the forwards. We’ll have to look after the ball better than we did last week, but if we do that I’m expecting a good performance.”

Fearnley is able to field a number of players from the University of Gloucestershire All Golds, including forwards Sam Blainey and Ollie Yeats, and star centre Marcus Brooker. Loose forward Rob Verber and winger Max Davies are set to return to the starting line-up after missing last week’s hard-fought win over Northampton Demons.

Fans unable to get to the game at New College, Leicester, can follow live score updates and commentary on the Sonics’ Twitter account at http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL