Rugby Union: Power tells as Eves leads Bristol out of shade

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The Independent Online
Bristol 20

Orrell 9

BRISTOL, who are thoroughly sick and tired of laying in the shade of Bath in the West Country, at last are promising to climb out of the despondency of the last decade, and although they are performing well below their potential, which was clear to see yesterday, they are energetically leading the chase behind Bath and Leicester.

Bristol have paid heavily in the last decade for being ultra- conservative, but they are now becoming modern, and their only idiosyncracy, which they also share with Leicester, remains lettering their jerseys.

Yesterday's game lost much of its interest, particularly to the England selectors, as both Orrell's dynamic Dewi Morris and Bristol's heir apparent to the England scrum-half berth, Kyran Bracken, were unfit to appear because of injury.

Orrell for their part have never been conservative, in fact they are always pure Coronation Street and share the same virtues of first-class production. They were on the day well beaten for size, but their forwards are a pretty stubborn bunch and grimly stuck to their guns. Had they won more balls then their backs, who looked a great deal sharper than Bristol's, might have rescued the situation.

Bristol won so much ball from line-outs and loose scrums that they should have won far more decisively. However they had little to offer in construction behind the scrum. In winning the game they owed most to their big pack and above all to the terrific work rate and efforts of their flanker and captain Derek Eves, who covered acres of ground, scored two tries, and played a blinder.

From the start the huge Bristol pack rolled relentlessly forward, but Orrell remained resilient throughout the first half and even gained an early lead with a penalty goal by Simon Langford for offside. Bristol, however, made their weight tell, and from a tap penalty they strolled the ball over the line in a sort of bunched maul, which looked suspiciously like a wedge. Eves got the touchdown and Mark Tainton converted.

Two more penalty goals by Langford kept Orrell in the game, but realising they were not winning ball, the northerners flirted outrageously with the offside law and paid dearly for it when Tainton kicked a penalty to make it 10-9 at half-time.

In the second half Bristol's weight and power took its toll and inevitably they carried the day with two more tries.

Bristol: P Hull; D John, M Denney, N Matthews, G Sharp; M Tainton, M Chudleigh; A Sharp, M Regan, D Hinkins, S Shaw, A Blackmore, C Barrow, I Patten, D Eves (capt).

Orrell: S Langford (capt); J Naylor, I Wynn, P Johnson, A Healey; G Ainscough, D Topping; J Russell, T Redmond, A Rimmer, C Cooper, M Glynn, D Cleary, S Bibby, P Manley.

Referee: C Henderson (SRU).

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