Clifton victorious in Bristol derby
By Ben Roden
Reds traveled to Clifton for the last game of the season, only six points behind their Bristol rivals going into the derby game, buoyed by some recent good results but could not end the campaign with a win at Station Road.
On a cold and stormy day, with a strong gusting wind and sporadic showers effecting playing conditions, both sides showed great endeavor to entertain a large crowd.
Early exchanges were even; both sides prepared to move the ball in hand at close quarters and in the wider channels but it was defenses that were on top in the opening minutes. As the half progressed Reds began to get an edge at the scrums but couldn’t turn the advantage into points, struggling to break down a stubborn home defence. In the blustery conditions the visitors turned down a penalty to goal and Ashley Groves kicked to the corner, but couldn’t find a way through from the ensuing lineout.
Centre Aaron Rice used his strength to break through in the centre and dangerous wing Henry Bird threatened wide out but Reds could quite find the way to the line against a well-organised lavender and blacks defence. Skipper Dan Fry and number eight Ethan Doyle carried well but could break through around the fringes.
Large sections of the game were played between the opposing twenty twos without either side managing a score in the first half; the teams reaching the break all square, despite Reds having a clear edge in the scrums and shading territory.
After the turn around Clifton increased the tempo and began to turn things around, creating a platform for their strong running backs. Following a period of pressure back row forward Niall Gibbons opened the score with a try from close quarters, Luke Cozens converting with quarter of an hour played in the second half.
Reds re-grouped and worked their way down the field to establish a strong position. They applied the pressure and looked to be creating an overlap. However, as the chance presented itself an interception saw Clifton break from their own line, Will Pomphrey ran to the half way and kicked ahead, the bounce favoured Clifton and fell perfectly for Tom Stanton who ran in the try, Cozens converting from in front of the posts for a fourteen point lead.
The visitors bench made an impact as the game progressed with centre Jermaine Jones carrying the ball well through the middle and back row forward Mason Gill-Watkins making one memorable charge but on every occasion they couldn’t quite find the final pass or supporting man to create a try. Desperate to get something from the game Reds attacks broke down time and again and it was Clifton who killed the game off with a penalty from Cozens.
Clifton’s experience at this level showed in the second half and they took the win, but yet again Old Redcliffians had played their part. The victory confirmed Clifton as sixth in the table at the end of the season, with Old Reds finishing twelfth, four points above our other Bristol rivals Dings Crusaders; all three Bristol sides safe in the knowledge they would play National Three South rugby again next season.
Tries: Niall Gibbons, Tom Stanton
Conversions: Luke Couzens (2)
Penalty: Luke Couzens
Craig Owen, Henry Bird, Aaron Rice, Christian Gervais, James Clements, Ashley Groves, Ben Fry, Dan Allison, Kieran Ward, Jake Caulfield, Corey Talbot, Chris Pursall, Dan Fry, Pat Zindi, Ethan Doyle
Replacements: Ellis Joseph, Mason Gill-Watkins, Dominic Sprague, Jermaine Jones, Ezra Caven
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDY WATTS MEDIA