The final league game of the season saw the First XV take on Exeter at home, a game where the winner would find themselves in second place, which for Bristol would mean promotion play play offs. The game was played under the lights, meaning Bristol had a large supporting crowd down to watch, which certainly made a difference. Some smart kicking from Rhodri Skyrme gave Bristol the edge early on, and pressure on the Exeter line out meant they couldn't secure their own ball, and within the first five minutes Club Captain Will Sharp was over in the corner. Similar to last week, Bristol were vulnerable to ill discipline after the restart, and Exeter quickly had the chance to narrow the scores to 5-3. Smart Exeter play lead to them scoring their first try of the game, their speedy winger finishing well in the far corner, putting the visitors 5-10 ahead. Bristol, however, were not phased by going behind and thanks to great vision and a perfect kick from Calum Waters, Owain Ellis ran in Bristol's second try untouched, Sharp this time successful with the conversion, making the score 12-10. Exeter, however, managed to slip through a weak UBRFC defence and got their second secore of the game, the conversion as well making it 12-17. Bristol this time were not the victims of a lapse in concentration at the restart, as Exeter immediately gave away a penalty, and Bristol had a line out right on the opposition 5 with a chance to regain the lead, which they did through Ben Gompels, once again finding himself at the back of an unstoppable driving maul. Sharp again accurate off the tee to take Bristol 2 points ahead. With the Dingle crowd really finding their voice, Exeter struggled to piece anything together in attack, and they took the last points of the half with a penalty to make the score 19-20 at half time. Bristol came out for the second half knowing they could not let Exeter get two bonus points (by scoring four tries and finishing within 7 points), and needed a fourth score of their own, which they immediately got thanks to a stunning 15m miss pass from Waters, finding Pozniak who dived over in the corner. Sharp was successful with the conversion putting Bristol 26-20 ahead, a scoreline that would put them into the play offs. The next 38 minutes of the game remained entirely scoreless, both sides coming close but the defence always came out on top, meaning that Bristol got the bonus point win they needed thus securing them second place in the league! This means they will face either Nottingham Trent or Newcastle in April to try and get their place in the Super BUCS league.
Tries: Sharp, Ellis, Gompels, Pozniak
Conversions: Sharp (4)
Man of the Match: Harry Jones
29/1 - Cardiff Met (A)
The First XV started 2020 with a trip to Wales to play Cardiff Met. The match started well, as some slick hands across the line between both forwards and backs meant that Tomek Pozniak crossed the line in the first five minutes. Met then came back with a score of their own, some powerful running and a smart finish gave them 5 points in the corner. Bristol had a quick response, Macca Hayward picked up a loose ball straight off kick off and a swift inside pass to Pozniak meant he crossed for his second of the game, making the score 12-8. The last 5 minutes of the half saw Bristol consistently attacking the Cardiff line, and good vision from Rhodri Skyrme and a neat disguised pass assisted Pozniak for his third try of the game. The first 20 minutes of the second half was scoreless as despite their poor discipline, Bristol's defence still held strong and didn't let Met cross the line. Calum Waters broke the deadlock as he picked up a loose pass and ran in unopposed to score the bonus point try, Wardlaw was successful with the conversion and Bristol now had adequate breathing room. The foot was kept on the gas as Gabriel O'Brien crashed over for his first ever UBRFC try, Will Sharp knocked the conversion over and Bristol were 31-8 up. The final try of the game came from captain Hywel Rose, back in the side after being sidelined for two months due to a knee injury. Rose found himself at the back of a successful driving maul, Wardlaw kicked over the final conversion, and then one final penalty to end the game at 41-8. A win on the road gives the First XV all the confidence they need going into their next game against league champions Hartpury.
Tries: Pozniak (3), Waters, O'Brien, Rose
Conversions: Wardlaw (3), Sharp
Man of the Match: Calum Waters
27/11 - Cardiff (H)
After back to back away games, the First XV were excited to be back on Dingle turf playing under the lights, especially when it brought the opportunity to prove that the away loss to Cardiff earlier in the season was uncharacteristic of the lads. The game started brightly, with Matt Hackney stepping his way through a drifting defence to score his third try in as many games. A few lapses in concentration, however, meant Bristol were once again not able to conserve their momentum, and Cardiff responded quickly with two scores of their own. The FRU continued to dominate at scrum time, securing penalty after penalty, which gave Bristol all the territory in the Cardiff half, and this eventually led to scrum half Rhodri Skyrme smartly using the base of the post to score Bristol's second try, levelling the scores. A well struck penalty from the Cardiff 15 meant they went in 3 points ahead at half time, Bristol knew they needed to turn things around if they wanted to get back to the winning ways of earlier in the season, and they came out for the second half with that goal in mind. Despite an early penalty from Cardiff, Bristol scored the first try of the second half, Blake Edwards powered through the defence from a neat set piece move on the halfway line, gathering enough momentum to leave the full back with no chance at all. Thanks to another Waters conversion, Bristol were now 1 point ahead. Cardiff then had a 10 minute long attack in Bristol's 22, but strong defence eventually led to the turnover and Bristol could get back on the attack, which they did with some flare, as Waters put Edwards clean through another hole, and a neat offload this time meant Waters crossed the whitewash once again. The conversion was good and Bristol had the game, and the bonus point, in the bag. A cherry on top of a brilliant home victory was Rory Carroll scoring a try on debut in the corner in front of the home fans; some need footwork in a tight space left two or three Cardiff defenders on the floor as Carroll dotted down for the final score of the game two minutes from time to make the final score 36-20. A great result for UBRFC's 1st XV, who now enjoy a week off before their final game of 2019, another Wednesday Night Lights at Dingle against St Mary's.
Tries: Hackney, Skyrme, Edwards, Waters, Carroll
Conversions: Skyrme (2), Waters (2)
Man of the Match: Macca Hayward
13/11 - Exeter (A)
Following a bitter loss to Hartpury the week before, the First XV travelled to second place Exeter to try and get back to winning ways. Bristol once again started with a try as Rhodri Skyrme crossed the line from the base of a ruck. Unfortunately, Bristol failed to front up physically, and Exeter managed to bully their way back into the game, powering over and scoring three unanswered tries. A big response was needed in the second half, and whilst Bristol held out for the opening few minutes, Exeter's fast and physical attack found its way through Bristol's defence once again. Matt Hackney did manage to finish off a nice passing move in the corner and Ben Marshall succesfully barged his way over but it was too little too late, and Exeter sealed up the victory at 41-27.
Tries: Skyrme, Hackney, Marshall
Drop Goal: Waters
Man of the Match: Hugh Hamilton-Green
30/10 - Cardiff Met (H)
A week on from their first away win of the season, the First XV hosted Cardiff Met in a physical battle, where they prevailed the victors; 26 -15. Met opened the scoring, with a try from a quick tap, catching Bristol napping and earning themselves an easy 7 points. Tomek Pozniak, however, quickly responded with a score of his own, slipping through the Cardiff defence returning a failed exit, levelling the scores to 7-7. The second try came not too far after, as Matt Hackney and Ben Sackey combined well in the midfield, generating quick ball which allowed Will Verdan to get a slick offload away to Duncan Darling, who slid over for Bristol's second score. Harry Yates bossed the game at 10, and his cross field kick inside Bristol's own half proved too difficult for the Met back 3, as Pozniak gathered the kick and offloaded Darling, extending Bristol's lead to 19-10. The second half was not as exciting for the spectators, as both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball. Blake Edwards still managed to crash over though, sealing the bonus point for Bristol. Cardiff managed a score of their own through a strong driving maul, but it was too little too late and the game finished 26-15 to Bristol.
Tries: Pozniak, Darling (2), Edwards
Conversions: Yates (3)
Man of the Match: Tomek Pozniak
09/10 - Cardiff (A)
This week saw the 1st XV face their first away day in Wales, taking on newly promoted Cardiff 2s in unpleasant conditions, that did not allow Bristol to play their favoured running game. Dominance in the set piece, once again, lead to several scrum penalties, keeping Bristol in Cardiff's 22, and eventually Hywel Rose crossed over for another score in the BUCS season. A quick response came from Cardiff, levelling the score to 7 a piece. Ollie Pell then kick over a penalty, allowing Bristol to regain the lead, but it was not for long as Cardiff managed another score to put them ahead, a penalty quickly followed and Bristol were 17-10 behind. A bit of French flair from Martin Cabannes gave Bristol a glimmer of hope, with a great bit of footballing skill close to the Cardiff line, but the conversion was a tricky one right on the touch line, and Bristol finished the game 2 points shy, at 17-15. Now that USW are no longer competing in BUCS fixtures this year, the 1st XV have a week off to prep for another away day, against St Mary's.
Tries: Rose, Cabannes
Man of the Match: Gabriel O'Brien
25/09 - Navy u23s (H)
The first Wednesday Night Lights of the year saw the UBRFC 1st XV face the Royal Navy u23s, which proved to be an extremely physical battle, where Bristol prevailed the victors, 63-0. Highlights of the game include Bristol's domination up front in the first half from the forwards, Macca Hayward crossed the line within 5 minutes thanks to a well executed line out move. The second try came shortly after, as a loose line out throw was picked up by Ben Solomon, who neatly offloaded to Ewan Evans, who crashed over for UBRFC's second try in the first 10 minutes.
The forwards continued to dominate set piece, consistent scrum penalties in Bristol's favour allowed them to stay put in the Navy half of the pitch, then a second well worked line out move saw Solomon make a break down the wing and Captain Hywel Rose was first to react at the breakdown, and quickly dotted down Bristol's third score of the half.
The fourth came not so long after, as a well worked backs move manipulated the Navy defence straight off a scrum, allowing Tomek Pozniak to run through untouched. Hugh Hamilton-Green made the break which led to the fifth try of the half, thanks to a lovely inside pass from Will Sharp. Hamilton-Green ran through a tired Navy defence, and a swift offload to Martin Cabannes put the Frenchman in for his first score of the season. The final try of the half came from some quick thinking from Calum Waters, a quick tap and go caught the Navy defence off guard, allowing him to grab his first try in UBRFC colours. This meant Bristol went into half time 42-0 up, the huge Dingle crowd were only hoping it would be a similar story in the second forty.
This was not the case, as the Navy well and truly came out fighting, throwing everything they had at the Bristol line, but after an exceptionally strong defensive shift for the first 20 minutes of the half, the score remained 42-0.
Changes were made by both sides, Will Sharp, who had been flawless off the tee all day - knocking over all six conversion attempts in the first half, sadly had to come off due to a thumb injury. He was replaced by Blake Edwards, who immediately made an impact, scoring the first points of the second half, showing great strength in contact to drive over from short range. Harry Yates added the extras, and UBRFC were back on the front foot.
Substitutions made in the forward pack did not hinder the set piece dominance, as Will Verdan crossed the line thanks to yet another strong driving maul. The final score of the game came through strong running from Edwards again, as he ran through untouched from short range. Yates again kicked the conversion, making the final score 63-0.
The game was useful for both sides, and we hope to continue it in the future, as it proved to be a great event, with hundreds of spectators coming to watch, raising almost £500 for Off The Record. It also concludes UBRFC's pre season, as they now look ahead to their first BUCS game of the season vs Bath, back at Dingle on Wednesday 2nd October.
Travelling away to Hartpury is the toughest test for all the teams in the league, with the Gloucester team holding an almost unbeaten home record for the last three years. Having already won the league with a game in hand, Bristol were the only team with anything to play for. They started strongly, slipping through several weak Hartpury tackles, but the hosts got on the scoreboard first with a penalty just over 10 minutes in, which was closely followed by a try to put the league champions 10-0 ahead just 20 minutes in. Bristol's heads did not drop, however, and prop Gabriel O'Brien powered over the line for his second try of the season. Poor discipline from Bristol allowed Hartpury another shot at the posts, which they successfully kicked, making the score 11-5. Bristol were not struggling to make it into the opponent's 22, but failed to find the finishing touch, and Hartpury scored the final points of the half with a try under the posts. At 18-5, Bristol knew they needed a better performance in the second half. A strong driving maul early on gave Rory Carroll the opportunity to slide over in the corner, and with Will Sharp nailing the touchline conversion, Bristol were within 6. As has been the case for many games this season, however, the First XV left themselves vulnerable to a quick reply, and Hartpury quickly restored their 13 point lead. The cold, wet night meant the forwards were constantly scrumming, which suited Bristol as they were dominating up front, with their driving maul working exceptionally well. This lead to more pressure on the Hartpury line and loose-head Alex Chalklin driving over from a pick and go, Sharp again scored the extras to get Bristol to within 7. Bristol managed to maintain concentration from the restart and immediately got themselves back on the attack, fly half Cal Waters causing all sorts of problems with the opposition defence and eventually hooker Ben Gompels crossed the line, completing the FRU hat trick and taking Bristol to within just 1 point. Poor discipline again meant that Bristol conceded a penalty right off the kick off, and it took no time at all for Hartpury to score, a try, and they then managed to extend their lead even further with a penalty, making the final score 35-24. A disappointing result, especially after some moments of brilliance, plenty to take into next week's clash with Exeter, where a win will put the First XV into the play offs!
Tries: O'Brien, Carroll, Chalklin, Gompels
Conversions: Sharp (2)
Man of the Match: Owain Ellis
11/12 - St Mary's (H)
The final game of the decade saw the only other 1st XV in the league, St Mary's, visit Coombe Dingle for a Wednesday Night Lights to remember.
Bristol started strongly, with Macca Hayward crossing the line from short range for the first try of the game. This pressure continued as, thanks to a superb out the back offload from George Charnock, which put Duncan Darling in to score, and Bristol were 12-0 up within 10 minutes. After 20 minutes of constant pressure, St Mary's finally managed a score of their own to bring the score to 15-7. Shortly after some inspired footwork and pace from Alex Chalklin and Calum Waters led to a St Mary's line out on their own line, which Rhodri Skyrme neatly stole to dive over for Bristol's third score. This 13 point lead was not for long as St Mary's crossed over in the corner, pulling it back to 20-14 in the last 5 minutes of the 1st half. This, however, was not the final score of the half, as Ben Marshall crossed the line just 3 minutes after for Bristol's fourth try of the half, making the half time score 25-14. Bristol came out the blocks much stronger and Charnock benefited off the consistent scrum pressure from the FRU as he went under the posts unopposed after three back to back dominant scrums. St Mary's then had another period of constant attack, but the Bristol defence held strong and Rory Carroll eventually broke free down the wing before passing inside to Waters who scored a try of his own. This pressure continued throughout the half as Hugh Hamilton-Green was next to cross the whitewash, making the score 51-14 with 15 minutes to go. A sloppy Bristol error meant that St Mary's got the final say of the match with a try in the corner and the game finished 51-21. A great way for UBRFC to end the decade, putting them in joint second with Exeter.
Determined not to lose 3 on the bounce, Bristol took the short journey to Bath with one goal in mind: win. The game started incredibly well for Bristol, as Blake Edwards made 3 or 4 line breaks in the first 10 minutes, but the final pass kept going to floor and the first try didn't come until the 35th minute, through good footwork from Cal Waters, as he slid in for the opening try. Matt Hackney quickly scored the second, throwing a dummy that sold the whole Bath team which opened up a gap for him to run through unopposed from 40 metres out.
The second half was just as scrappy as the first, Bristol continued to make several line breaks but too many offloads going to floor meant they could not increase their 12 point lead from the first half. Bath went back to route 1 and their forward pack forced their way over, to score a try that kept them in the game with the score at 12-7. Despite constant pressure for the rest of the match, the First XV failed to convert their opportunities, and so 12-7 was the final score.
Tries: Waters, Hackney
Man of the Match: Alex Chalklin
6/11 - Hartpury (H)
The league leaders came to fortress Dingle on Wednesday, and despite a superb early try coming from great running by Cal Waters, and finished off by Blake Edwards, Hartpury showed why they were unbeaten in the league so far this year. Bristol conceded 4 unanswered tries, and it looked like the visitors were going to run riot, but Bristol pulled themselves together and managed to get a score through their driving maul on the stroke of half time, whilst Hartpury had a player in the sin bin. With the half time score 24-12, Bristol knew they were in for a tough second half. They came out of the blocks flying, with a try from Calum Waters, side stepping his way through the opposition back line. A strong driving maul, however, meant that Hartpury restored their 12 point lead, but not for long as some incredible evasion from flanker Will Verdan gave Bristol their third score of the game, putting them within just 5 points. Bristol's discipline let them down, and Hartpury managed to score a penalty to extend their lead. The team responded quickly, and within minutes were back on the attack, and with an advantage in hand, Waters attempted a drop goal, which although unsuccessful, proved useful as play was called back for the penalty, and Rhodri Skyrme saw an opportunity to tap and go, and executed this perfectly to score Bristol's fourth try. This unfortunately was not enough for Bristol to win the game, and the score ended at 31-37 in favour of the visitors. An unfortunate result, especially after the fight shown by the lads in the second half to change the momentum of the whole game. The First XV now face another tough test, going down to Topsham to face Exeter's 2nd XV on their home turf.
Tries: Edwards, Gompels, Waters, Verdan, Skyrme
Conversions: Pell (1) Waters (2)
Man of the Match: Harry Jones
23/10 - St Mary's (A)
After a much appreciated week off, the UBRFC 1st XV headed across to Twickenham to face newly promoted St Mary's. Bristol started strongly, with captain Hywel Rose scoring his fourth try in three weeks. The rest of the first half was an intense arm wrestle between the two sides, and just as it was looking like neither side would cross the whitewash, St Mary's executed a superb cross field kick and their winger scored their first try of the game. It looked as though St Mary's pure size and strength would give them the win in the match, especially after a driving maul put them ahead 50 minutes into the game. Bristol, however, still managed to dominate the scrum, and after several consecutive penalties, the Front Row Union claimed their first penalty try of the season, levelling the scores up. The next score came swiftly after, Jacob Vialou-Clark was on the ball at the back of a 25m driving maul which put Bristol into the lead. As Bristol's fitness started to shine through, St Mary's struggled to keep up, as a well executed line out move meant replacement hooker Ben Gompels could dive in in the corner, after strong running from Macca Hayward. The home side did not let go, as they managed to claim the last score of the game with a driving maul of their own, leaving the final score at 26-32 in Bristol's favour.
Tries: Rose, FRU, Vialou-Clark, Gompels
Conversions: Pell (2)
Penalties: Pell (2)
Man of the Match: Ollie Pell
02/10 - Bath (H)
The First XV started their 2019/20 BUCS campaign at home against Bath. The first half began brightly, with captain Hywel Rose barging his way over from close range, after some dominance at scrum time. Bath quickly responded with a try of their own, utilising their large forward pack well to suck in the UBRFC defence, which meant it took just a few quick passes for their winger to score in the corner. A quick response was needed to get Bristol back on the front foot, and it came within 30 seconds of the restart, as Ben Sackey charged down an attempted clearance kick, and the ball was there for the taking for Tomek Pozniak, who ran in unopposed to score Bristol's second try. Bath scored again in a similar manner to their first, but missed the conversion, meaning Bristol went into half time 14-12 up, thanks to two well-struck conversions from Ollie Pell. The second half began just as physical as the first, Bristol managed to get their third score of the game, thanks to some slick hands in the backs, which meant Martin Cabannes went over in the corer. Strong running from Rose meant he grabbed his second, but Bath again responded with a forwards try of their own, as their driving maul worked well once again, and they were able to narrow the scoreline. Pell, however, continued his strong form off the tee and scored two penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The final nail in the coffin came from Harry Jones, scoring his first try for the First XV; following some strong running from debutant Alex Jewson, a few neat offloads got the ball into Jones' hands and he crossed the line with two or three Bath players on his back. This left the final score 37-19, a great start to the season from Bristol! Tries: Rose (2), Pozniak, Cabannes, Jones