Rugby Union: Hogg on point duty

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The Independent Online
Bristol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Clifton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

FRIENDLY? Well, there were no league points at stake but local rivalry is a powerful force in Gloucestershire and Clifton paraded eight former Bristol men in their side. As one Bristolian remarked: 'You can assume it will be reasonably tribal.'

Bristol still wince over events at the Memorial Ground on New Year's Day two years ago, when Clifton had the cheek to record their only win in the series. Hence the fact that First Division Bristol were taking no chances yesterday by fielding their strongest available side to tackle the team leading the Fourth.

'They probably should give us a good stuffing,' Simon Hogg, Clifton's former Bristol stand-off, said. 'They should be looking to score 50-plus points but I would be very upset if Bristol were comfortable winners.'

Clifton exerted the early pressure on Bristol, who themselves are being pressed to explain approaches to the Scotland stand-off, Craig Chalmers, whose club secretary at Melrose, Stuart Henderson, has had enough. 'We're getting fed up and if it doesn't stop I see no alternative other than to go to the Rugby Football Union.'

'We spoke to Craig because he was offering his services,' Bristol's administrator, David Tyler, responded. 'We've left it to him to ring us in the New Year to tell us if he's still keen.'

It was Mark Tainton, the present stand-off, who gave Bristol the lead with a straightforward penalty after 14 minutes. Bristol, though, were not finding the game the sort of pushover that Hogg suggested it should be, and after he had levelled the scores with a penalty of his own Clifton hit their neighbours with a try.

When the ball came to the right, Peter Naivalurua made the break and chucked a wild pass over his left shoulder, the lock Andy Heywood doing well to make the pick-up and force his way over. Bristol were ahead at the break, however, Derek Eves tapping down from a line-out for Craig Barrow to score and Tainton landed the conversion and a penalty.

Things continued to look up for Bristol when Tainton's interception led to a 70-yard breakaway try for Alastair Saverimutto. Which left David John, Stuart Crossland and Barry Whitehead to continue the business, which becomes infinitely more serious when Bristol visit Bath in the league and the cup in the next three weeks.

Bristol: Tries Barrow, Saverimutto, John, Crossland, Whitehead. Conversions Tainton 4; Penalty Tainton. Clifton: Try Heywood; Penalties Hogg 3.

Bristol: B Whitehead; D John, O Saverimutto, K Maggs, S Crossland; M Tainton, B Harvey; P Smith, D Palmer, D Hinkins, P Adams, A Blackmore, R Armstrong, C Barrow, D Eves (capt).

Clifton: A Freeman; T Davis, P Naivalurua, K Lock, J Phillips; S Hogg, P Jeffrey; A Fisher, M Cotton (P Polledri 46-51), P Cox, C Blake, A Heywood, S Swales, M Wyatt, W Hone (capt).

Referee: J Wallis (Bridgwater).