Bristol must attempt to secure their foundations

Click to follow
Bristol 29 Leicester 43

Demolition is the order of the day at Bristol. This morning , the JCBs move in and start knocking down the old wooden stand at the Memorial Ground - and even more destructive, financial forces resume their efforts to break up the playing foundations the club has laid for the future.

Welsh clubs are trying hard to persuade the mercurial outside-half Arwel Thomas to return to the land of his fathers. The England second row Garath Archer said on Saturday he would be going back to his Newcastle roots. He may well be joined there by the hugely promising back-row forward Martin Corry.

And even the colts side is threatened. There have been understandable approaches to a young, 16-stone prop who can run 100 metres in 11 seconds. He is a Somerset lad with the unlikely Somerset name of Dinos Alexopolis. The new Bristol coach, Alan Davies, threatened with losing such vital team rebuilding material, has had long talks to try to keep him.

Corry, though, is the immediate problem. He is ambitious and is tempted not so much by financial riches as by the rugby rewards of joining the full-time squad being assembled on Tyneside.

He would be a loss because he was one of the players who refused to buckle on Saturday. Bristol might well have been wiped out after an hour of unremitting Tigers hostility that brought a couple of tries from Rory Underwood, roaring up the wing, and a third from the fullback John Liley. Jez Harris twice sliced Bristol open with classic outside-half breaks as well as dropping a classic outside-half goal.

But Bristol have steel in the soul, and clawed back the deficit, first with a try from their No8 Eben Rollitt, then with the irrepressible scrum- half Kyran Bracken darting over.With outside-half Mark Tainton coverting both and adding five penalties, victory was suddenly in sight.

But twisting the Tiger's tails only made them meaner. The centre Stuart Potter scored a try, Liley added his fourth conversion to his four penalties in a try and Leicester survived.

Bristol's own survival may well depend on whether the administrators rule against relegation. Politics as well as play will determine what they are rebuilding for.

Bristol: Tries Rollitt, Bracken; Conversions Tainton 2; Penalties Tainton 5. Leicester: Tries Underwood 2, Liley, Potter; Conversions Liley 4; Penalties Liley 4.

Bristol: P Hull (capt); B Breeze, S Martin, K Maggs, R Knibbs;, M Tainton, K Bracken; A Sharp, A Lathrope, D Hinkins, P Adams, M Fountaine, M Corry, E Rollitt, J Pearson.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter, R Robinson, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, C Tarbuck, D Richards (capt), N Back.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).