Bristol 17 Rotherham 14 match report: Late Broadley score cuts Bristol’s advantage for return

Memorial Stadium

This was not quite the script as written by Bristol. Blown off course by the freakish weather conditions as much as the tigerish tenacity of Rotherham Titans, they will take with them to Yorkshire next Saturday a mere three-point lead for the second leg of their Greene King IPA Championship semi-final.

Best side in the Championship they may have been, as 13 successive victories testify, but play-offs demand a different mentality and Bristol’s hopes of promotion to the Aviva Premiership remain far from certain. They were relegated five years ago, succumbed tamely to Exeter Chiefs in the 2010 play-off final but now have everything in place to return to England’s elite in place of Worcester Warriors.

No wonder their chairman, Chris Booy, dislikes the play-off system. “They make a lottery of the situation,” Booy said. “We are the best team but it can always go wrong in the play-offs.” For all that, Booy considers that Bristol now occupy their best all-round position since the game went professional 19 years ago.

Well funded since the arrival of Steve Lansdown, founder of his own financial services company, well coached and moving next season to Ashton Gate, Bristol City’s ground on the far side of the city where Lansdown owns both the football and the rugby clubs as part of his holding company, Bristol Sport, the club is ripe for promotion.

The first of the experienced newcomers has already arrived. Signings for next season include internationals in Dwayne Peel, David Lemi and Anthony Perenise plus the Hurricanes flanker, Jack Lam, while Ryan Jones, the Wales and Lions back-five forward, took part in his first training session on Tuesday and could be included for next Saturday’s game at Sheffield’s Abbeydale Stadium

But Lansdown’s ambitions are broader than just running an Aviva Premiership club. His sporting portfolio also includes women’s football, basketball and motor racing, and his hope is that nurturing a variety of professional sports will encourage youngsters to play sport themselves.

Should Bristol reach the play-off final (Leeds Carnegie and London Welsh meet in the other semi-final first leg today), they will play one more game at the Memorial Stadium, their traditional home but now no more than the haunt of Bristol Rovers, relegated to the Skrill Conference. Rotherham, though, have given themselves a fighting chance of upsetting the West Country applecart.

In a game blighted by swirling wind, Juan Pablo Socino, their fly half, kicked three penalties down the breeze, two from more than fifty metres, to give his side a 9-0 interval lead. Rotherham’s defence blunted Bristol’s frenetic opening and, for all the dominance of the home side at the set piece, their inability to adapt to the conditions looked likely to be their downfall.

“We have given ourselves a chance and it backs up the belief in ourselves that we had going into the game,” Lee Blackett, Rotherham’s coach, said. His side lost, in effect, during the two periods when yellow cards reduced them to 14 men: Josh Thomas-Brown was sent to the sin bin for punching Jack Tovey, and Ed Williamson was absent when Bristol scored their third clinching try.

The first went to Gaston Cortes, driven over from a maul. Luke Eves, son of that long-time Bristol favourite, Derek, added a second after a delightful break from Auguy Slowik, and Mitch Eadie registered the third after a series of five-metre scrums. But time remained for Jamie Broadley to chase a chip through by Jordan Davies and score the try that gives Rotherham reason to hope.

Line-ups:

Bristol: A Slowik (A Hughes, 66); G Watkins, J Tovey, L Eves, A Short; N Robinson, R Tipuna (L Baldwin, 76); K Traynor, R Lawrence (R Johnston, 60), G Cortes (J Hall, 60), B Glynn, M Sorenson (captain), N Koster, R Rennie, M Mama (M Eadie, 62).

Rotherham Titans: S Scanlon; J Broadley, J Gill (J Davies, 53), J Roberts, M Keating; J-P Socino, C Mulchrone (captain; D White, 77); R Hislop (T Williams, 66), T Cruise, C Quigley (M Tampin, 66), T Holmes, J Thomas-Brown (sin bin 49-59), A Rieder, J Preece, A To’oala (E Williamson, 50; sin bin 69-79).

Referee: T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'