GKIPA Championship

Bristol 55 Rotherham Titans 10

By John Harding at Ashton Gate

BRISTOL warmed-up for Friday night’s tough encounter with Yorkshire Carnegie by sweeping aside visitors Rotherham Titans and claiming eight tries to retain their unbeaten place at the top of the GKIPA Championship table.

While Bristol are five points clear of second-placed Ealing Trailfinders, the Titans are rooted at the other end with just one try-scoring and one losing bonus point to their credit from the opening eight rounds.

Bristol have away games against Yorkshire Carnegie on Friday, kick off at Headingley is 8 pm, and Doncaster Knights (December 2, kick-off 2.30pm) either side of the home game against Nottingham (November 25, kick-off 12.30pm).

Head coach Pat Lam, while admitting that his side is still looking for that ‘complete performance’, and he knows that all three sides will provide stiffer opposition than that from the Titans.

He added: “I think that is an improvement on the game before; we are slowly turning into the team we want to be. Our preparation is around our mindset, our relationships are getting stronger and you can see that coming through in the defence.

“I’ve told the players that recovery is crucial because I know that it will be tough in Yorkshire in November; not just weather-wise but also they are physically tough men. So we will need to be prepared mentally to go physically on Friday night.

“We totally respect a team, regardless of where they are in the table, so we have to be prepared correctly otherwise we will get rolled over. Carnegie are unbeaten this season at home in all competitions.”

Bristol may have been without their Samoan contingent, who were on International duty at Murrayfield, but returning from long term injury were No.8 Jordan Crane and centre Siale Piutau who was named ‘Man of the Match’.

While Piutau was on the field for 55 minutes, Crane played the whole match allowing Lam to leave last weekend’s Barbarians skipper Steven Luatua on the bench in preparation for the trip to Headingley having only returned to training on Thursday.

The Titans opened the scoring with a Caolan (sic) Ryan penalty before Bristol slipped into overdrive to seal the try-scoring bonus point within the half hour with a penalty try and touchdowns from Ross McMillan, Tusi Pisi and Joe Joyce for a 26-3 at half time.

The Bristol eight dominated the scrum and referee Adam Lee sent Titans replacement prop Tom Williams after a series of penalties close to their own line. Lam took the unusual decision to change his complete front row.

The visitors’ problems continued resulting in a second penalty try followed by tries from Luke Morahan, Jason Harris-Wright, and Tom Varndell. A lapse of concentration allowed Titans Rhodri Davies to touchdown with fellow replacement half-back Lee Millar.

Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy, the former Millfield School skipper, slotted four of his eight conversion attempts during the game and added a well-rehearsed late 30-metre drop goal to complete the rout.

Bristol scorers - tries: pen tries 2; R McMillan; T Pisi, J Joyce, L Morahan, J Harris-Wright, T Varndell; cons: C Sheedy 4.; dg: C Sheedy Rotherham Titans scorers - try: R Davies; con: L Millar; pen: C Ryan

Bristol: M Protheroe; L Morahan, S Piutau (I Madigan, 55), T Pisi, T Varndell; C Sheedy, A Uren (R Williams, 73); S Tonga’uiha (J O’Connell, 53), R McMillan (J Harris-Wright, 53; 78), N Thomas (G Cortes, 53), J Joyce, J Batley, Sam Jeffries, Dan Thomas, Jordan Crane (capt).

Reps (not used): S Luatua

Rotherham Titans: W Thomas; D Cheshire, Y Loizias, L Peters, J Henry; C Ryan (L Millar, 33), F Vieira (R Davies, 54); Toby Williams (Tom Williams, ht), L Cole (C Maddison, 6-19, 63), M Shields (B Palmer, 67), R Louw (D Grange, 60), B Hodge, A Peters, T Calladine (capt), T Burns (D Grange, 39-ht; Toby Williams, 52; I Boladau, 62)

Yellow card: Tom Williams (52-62)

Referee: A Leal

Att: 8184