Rugby Union / Courage Clubs' Championship: Bristol await video verdict

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The Independent Online
Bristol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

Leicester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

THERE were some sore heads among the Tigers by the time the dust had settled and it had nothing to do with liquid refreshment. In a rumble in the league jungle, they were well and truly mugged at the Memorial Ground as Bristol went for the points that eased First Division worries in a game marred by ugly incidents.

If what appeared to be one of the nastier bits has been captured on camera there may be a few freeze frames ahead because, while there were any number of off-the-ball incidents, attention was naturally focused on a first sending-off for Paul Gutteridge.

The Bristol prop claimed that he had inflicted only accidental damage when Aadel Kardooni went down clutching his left eye in the 15th minute of the second half. The referee, Colin High, took a different view and the Leicester scrum-half was later seen wearing an eye patch and anxiously

looking for hospital attention.

There were lengthy discussions before Gutteridge received his marching orders, one of the reasons being that John Wells, Leicester's captain, intervened and tried to prevent the dismissal. It was a sporting gesture, but Gutteridge's only hope of avoiding a ban rests on tape.

'We'll be having a look at the video,' Derek Eves, Bristol's captain said, 'and then we will decide whether or not to appeal.'

In other senses, it had been a happy Saturday afternoon for his team. 'We knew that if we could stop them playing we'd be in with a chance and we did just that.'

They were also helped by the shoulder ligament injury that saw Neil Back depart after 20 minutes. Leicester were never quite the same again, but while a third defeat in the league may have come as a disappointment they at least have the Pilkington Cup to go for.

Bristol motivation, on the other hand, was linked to survival and they made the most of their breaks here. After two minutes, for example, a strong wind took hold of Jez Harris's towering kick and blew it straight back over his head towards Craig Barrow. It was a gift from heaven and the No 8, who had been caught up behind the play, gathered the ball, turned, and raced some 60 yards down the touchline for a try.

Then - down to 14 men and with the immensely promising 19- year-old 6ft 9in lock Simon Shaw ('I never want to have to do that again') acting as a makeshift prop - Kyran Bracken took off on an amazing 45-yard run for the second try once Mark Tainton had fielded a drop-out immediately following his own failed penalty attempt.

Leicester, still in third place behind Bath and Wasps but having played one more game, were stunned as Bristol, helped by a sterling performance in the second row from Andy Blackmore, hummed along towards preserving their status.

This should be ensured when they tackle the bottom-placed Rugby at Webb Ellis Road at the end of the month, the first of their three remaining fixtures which also see them home to Gloucester and away to Wasps.

Bristol: Tries Barrow, Bracken; Conversion Tainton; Penalty Tainton. Leicester: Try Kardooni; Conversion Liley; Penalty Liley.

Bristol: P Hull; D John, R Knibbs, W Waghorn, K Morgan; M Tainton, K Bracken; P Gutteridge, M Regan, D Hinkins, S Shaw, A Blackmore, I Patten, C Barrow, D Eves (capt).

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, I Bates, S Potter, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, P Grant, J Wells (capt), D Richards, N Back (S Povoas, 20).

Referee: C High (Barrow-in-Furness).