Bristol's young talent shines

Bristol 43 Bourgoin 17
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The Independent Online

It seems a little cruel that after battling through to the top of Pool Five in the Parker Pen Shield – comfortably the hardest group – that Bristol's reward should be an away match against Premiership Sale in a fortnight.

But at least Bristol, with a batch of extremely promising youngsters, finished things off with a flourish yesterday. All they needed to qualify was one try, that they actually hit Bourgoin with six indicated not merely their intent, but also their potential. If they have one worry it is that their regular scrum-half Agustin Pichot has picked up a foot injury playing sevens for Argentina in Mar Del Plata this weekend.

Their cover in this position is spread so thinly that the flanker Michael Lipman had volunteered to step in at No 9 had Pichot's understudy Ross Blake picked up an injury.

Bristol took half an hour to score their first try, but thereafter were impatient to squeeze in as many as they could.

Bourgoin provided some feisty resistance before Garath Archer delivered the sort of one-two for which he is not renowned – two well-taken tries in the space of eight minutes. A little later he was making an all too familiar walk, around the touchline after being sent to the sin-bin for fighting with Joshua Heke, Bourgoin's replacement hooker.

Still at least he contributed, massively at times, in other ways and the 70 minutes they got out of him represented excellent value. Archer gets in some big first-time tackles, grubs around on the deck scrapping for the ball and then as he showed with his second try when he latched on to a well-timed pass and thundered over that he can move when he wants.

His first try was the result of a catch and drive from a line-out and coming when it did, in the 49th minute, effectively ended the French resistance.

Andrew Higgins, 20, had opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a sharp try following a scrum, his midfield partner the former Wallaby centre Jason Little, scored the second, before another promising youngster, the full-back Phil Christophers, racked up the third. Fly-half Shane Drahm, who collected five conversions and a penalty, completed the rout with the sixth try.

Bristol: Tries Higgins, Little, Christophers, Archer 2, Drahm; Conversions Drahm 5; Penalty Drahm. Bourgoin: Tries Coux, Ferrou; Conversions Boyet 2; Penalty Boyet.

Bristol: P Christophers; L Nabaro, A Higgins, J Little (A Cadwallader, 65), S Brown; S Drahm, R Blake; P Johnstone, N McCarthy (S Nelson, 58), J White (D Crompton, h-t), G Archer, A Brown, J Brownrigg, M Salter (B Sturnham, 65), C Short (M Lipman, 65).

Bourgoin: C Fromont; M Mabilon, A Chaliouta, E Tuni (A Forest, h-t), J Coux (L Rinck, 67); B Boyet, B Ferrou; X Fiard, G Meynard (J Heke, 48), A da Silva (R Mohr, 70), S Fischer, G Orsoni (capt), A Martrette, F Alazet, J Bonnaire (P Laurent, h-t).

Referee: J Steele (Scotland).