Bristol rely on a powerful maul to secure an away win against Firwood Waterloo 20-16.
Firwood Waterloo execute their game-plan well but are unable to come away with more than a losing bonus point.
Heavy pre-match rain made conditions tricky and both teams committing early penalties. With ball in hand Bristol started quickly, fast paced running, good lines and a cleverly placed kick pressured the home team although their defence was alert and held well. Securing the ball from a line out Bristol pushed forward, their maul gaining 5 meters needed for Amelia Buckland-Hurry to score the 1st try 9 minutes in.
From the re-start Firwood Waterloo’s game plan became clear, the home side looked for any opportunity to keep the ball in the opposition half. Bethany Stott (sponsored by Eddy Warrington) would kick for the corner from a majority of Bristol penalties and in open play she kicked for territory, linking up well with a great chase from Loo’s backs to pressure Bristol’s attempts to secure the ball. Playing in the opposition half came with rewards 18 minutes in with a try from Co-Captain Ash Neale. Neale’s usual ‘smash and grab’ style of rugby, breaking two tackles to get over for Loo’s first point. Bethany Stott’s conversion from a tight angle putting the home side ahead 7-5.
Firwood Waterloo’s relentless kicking stopped Bristol putting together a run of play for much of the half, forcing them to commit penalties for knocking on, not rolling away and obstructing Rebekah Wilson as she put in one of many great kick chases. The home team capitalised on good field position, changing tack and having Bethany Stott slot away two penalty kicks. Bristol managed to keep in touching distance, their fast-paced attack gaining ground, Amber Reed taking the opportunity to get 3 points, making the score 13-8 at half time.
The second half saw a return of the rain and worsening conditions but the home side stuck to their kicking game with good effect. Despite getting close to scoring another try and continuing to pile on the pressure, Firwood Waterloo could only put another 3 points on the score board through a Stott penalty. Despite less possession and the majority of time spent in their own half, Bristol’s persistence rewarded them a set piece in a rare visit inside Loo’s 22. The forwards again powering over from a scrum 5-meters out, to get their 2nd try and the conversion pulled them within 1 point, 16-15. The home side upped their tempo and tested Bristol’s defence; Michelle Davis (sponsored by Karl Winrow Tiling Contractor & Property Maintenance), Rebekah Wilson (sponsored by Eddy Warrington) and Lauren Delany (sponsored by Roast Coffee & Kitchen) all making big runs in the second half, making defenders miss tackles and gaining ground. Bristol’s defence held well, preventing Loo from increasing their lead and, in a cruel twist for the home side, it was Bristol who broke through the line. Slipping tackles Noel-Smith gave the visitors their 3rd try, the lead and secured the win for them 16-20.
Firwood Waterloo have always said that this season is one for learning and they certainly showed that in round 3 of the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s. Mistakes from the last game were happily absent, training sessions removed set piece issues and injected power and purpose right from the start.
Firwood Waterloo coach Rob Tilsley said after the match “performance, effort and work-rate all fantastic today, we have to keep building, keep learning. Like we have said to the players we’ll come again every week and look to improve.”