Rugby Union: Williams swoops on late gifts

Bristol 45 Saracens 22
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The Independent Online
THE TIME for giving had passed, but that did not stop Saracens. Their generosity saw them relinquish first-half domination and a lead that should have been greater and emerge on the wrong side of what developed into an old-fashioned drubbing.

Bristol, who moved up into sixth place, looked as shocked as their opponents after being permitted to run away with an Allied Dunbar Premiership match they had not looked capable of winning on their first half showing. But their enterprise and derring-do out wide and, more importantly, their hard-nosed attitude up front left Saracens sagging and ultimately lagging too far behind for the wing Darragh O'Mahony's second try late on to make any difference to the outcome.

It is not often that Saracens concede as many points as this either. Their captain, Francois Pienaar, was scathing about the performance. "In the second half our defence let us down," he admitted.

But Bristol deserve some credit. After an inept, even timid, showing in the first half the forwards began to take charge. Their captain, Dean Ryan, was exemplary; the lock Garath Archer, back after a two-month lay- off following an ankle operation, provided a deal of aggression; and once the hard yards had been covered the heavyweight centres, Scotland's Jamie Mayer and youngster James Ogilvie-Bull, were able to punch holes in the distinctly dodgy Saracens defence.

Ogilvie-Bull looks quite a find. Perhaps not as gifted with his handling as Ryan, the second half of his surname perfectly describes the 6ft 2in, 17st former English Schools shot putt champion. If there is any fat on him, then it is hard. And he can run. He has reputedly covered 100 metres in 11.4 seconds.

Mayer, his partner, was even more effective, bringing his experience to bear time and again. Outside these two was Dean Dewdney, a Zimbabwe international scrum-half who has undergone a conversion to winger. He showed his strength and ability by evading two tackles and dragging two desperate defenders with him when he scored Bristol's third try.

And if hooker Barrie Williams' line-out work had been as unerring as his ability to home in on the opponents' try line, then he would have been a very happy man. As it was, his two tries more than compensated for his occasional wayward throws.

The marauding Bristol back row, in particular Jim Brownrigg, until he departed with a worrying ankle injury, proved extremely adept when it came to the dispossession of a sloppy Saracens side. There were enough turnovers to fill the shelves of a cake shop.

And then there was Henry Honiball. The South African stand-off had an iffy first half but did not miss a kick after the interval as he amassed 20 points. "That is probably the most satisfying day since we started building this club," the Bristol coach, Bob Dwyer, said. The players clearly thought so as well, since they performed a lap of honour. It is not often victory will drop so obligingly into their laps, though.

Bristol: Tries Williams 2, Dewdney, Mayer, Ogilvie-Bull; Conversions Honiball 4; Penalties Honiball 4. Saracens: Tries O'Mahony 2, Constable; Conversions Lacroix 2; Penalty Lacroix .

Bristol: L Best; D Dewdney, J Ogilvie-Bull, J Mayer, S Brown; H Honiball, A Pichot; P Johnston, B Williams, P Lemoine, G Archer, D Ryan (capt), C Evans (S Fenn, 52), J Brownrigg (O Booyse, 77), C Short.

Saracens: M Mapletoft; R Constable, J Thomson, K Sorrell (M Leek, 53), D O'Mahony; T Lacroix, N Walshe; D Flatman, G Chuter (R Russell, 61), J White (P Wallace, 61), S Murray, D Grewcock (K Chesney, 52), R Hill, B Cole, F Pienaar (capt).

Referee: R Goodliffe (Sheffield).

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