Western Counties North
North Bristol 20 Cirencester 7
MAX Sheppard scored all three North Bristol tries in their home win over Cirencester.
The recent deluge of rain had put this, and many other fixtures, in doubt but the hard work by groundsman John Cottle paid off.
The pitch was in great condition considering the record January rainfall that has blighted the UK in 2014 but there was a strong gale force wind blowing towards the police station.
Cirencester had first use of the elements but it was North Bristol who started strongly with some great carrying and handling from the forwards where Ross Wilson, Alex Featherstone and Sheppard showed up well.
With these strong bursts North had an early chance to open the scoring and Dan Snow stepped up to slot an early three pointer after three minutes.
North Bristol knew kicking wasn’t a great option in the opening 40 minutes and ran back at their visitors.
Full back Carl Smith looked sharp before coming off due to a stinger.
That saw new-signing Steve Trimmel make his debut and the powerful centre slotted straight in.
Any mistake was punished by Cirencester as they were able to kick long downfield and one such error was punished by a converted try as their right winger raced in from 60 metres after ten minutes.
The home side knew that keeping Cirencester to this solitary score was imperative and, with Alex Flannigan and Featherstone leading an excellent home scrum, Cirencester were left with limited possession.
As the half neared its end they missed two kickable penalties but North turned around just 7-3 behind.
After 46 minutes a Cirencester scrum was shunted back over their own line and it was No 8 Sheppard who claimed the try. Snow went close with the conversion and North were back in the lead at 8-7.
Cirencester had a player sin-binned after 54 minutes and North capitalised on this numbers advantage. Scrum half Phil Sterry hassled his opposite number into an error at another North dominated scrum and it was Sheppard again on hand to snaffle the loose ball to score beneath the posts. Snow converted at 15-7.
After 64 minutes another powerful scrum, where Steve Chappell had replaced the super Flannigan, enabled Sheppard to claim his hat-trick, and his tenth try of the season, and the game was over at 20-7.
North Bristol went in search of the try-scoring bonus point but could not quite claim the fourth try.
North Bristol scorers: Tries - Max Sheppard (3); Conversions - Dan Snow; Penalties - Dan Snow.