NORTH BRISTOL were unable to repeat last year’s achievement of going all the way to the national semi-final of the RFU Intermediate Cup as they came unstuck against a determined Berry Hill side.

The hosts were missing some first choice regulars but their visitors started the game well and then kept North Bristol at bay in the second half with some good defence.

It was the Forest of Dean side that opened the scoring with a penalty after three minutes and continued to dominate possession and territory for the opening quarter. North had to make their tackles and centre Simon Mortimer stood out with some resolute defence. It wasn’t until 22 minutes when North Bristol levelled things up with a Josh Davies penalty strike after some good driving play from the home pack.

Berry Hill scored their opening try of the game after 32 minutes and with the conversion they led 10-3. The first half stuttered to the interval with neither side able to create any scoring chances as the drizzle started to fall.

Five minutes after the break, Berry Hill increased their lead with a well struck penalty but then North Bristol started to gain a foothold in the opposition half. On 49 minutes some recycled possession for the first time in the game saw Alex Cue dart blind and his pass found Jake Robertson, who bounced off tackles to score underneath the posts. Davies hit the conversion and North were back in the game at 10-13.

North were now going for the win and turned down some potential equalising penalties to go for a try but they were met with some strong Berry Hill defence. Davies missed a kick to tie the score after 63 minutes and with time running out full back Phil Sterry stepped up to try to find the equaliser but his effort struck the upright. North were unable to breach the Berry Hill line and it was the Foresters who moved into the next round of the competition.

On Saturday North travel to Berry Hill in the league, knowing that there is some work to be done during the week if they want to come away from the Forest with any chance of a valuable league win.

North Bristol scorers: Tries – Jake Robertson; Conversions - Josh Davies; Penalties – Josh Davies.

Friendly: Cleve 4ths 7 North Bristol 3rds 51

A TOWERING performance from North Bristol’s front row led them to victory over Cleve.

Yet it was a strong start from Cleve that caught North napping as they scored a great counter-attacking try from Neil Oliver, converted by Nick Doury.

A quick-thinking interception from scrum-half Chris Oliver brought North’s first try. Five minutes later powerful drives from Simon Nelmes and Jonny Lyons set up good possession which ended with Craig Perrett’s pace leaving Cleve for dead on the outside to score a great try. Further strong driving play made the platform for centre Ben Hurkett to score a third North try and Dan Harris’ conversion took them 7-17 clear.

Perrett’s breath-taking run from halfway on the touchline took him through a bemused midfield to the posts for the game’s most exciting try. Harris’ conversion lifted North to 24-7 ahead at half time.

Veteran No 8 Brian Taylor’s return was rewarded with a superb unconverted try from his pack’s powerful pushover. Right wing Steve Hudd’s first pass of the match showed what North were missing when he stunned his marker on the outside for a classic touchdown.

Replacement Vince Tesson’s first touch allowed him to demonstrate his finishing skills down the left touchline and minutes later diminutive winger Mike Stevens scored a carbon copy try.

It became 7-51 when a quickly taken tapped penalty reached Chris Gransden, in his 200th game for North Bristol, whose lunge to the line ended North’s nine-try blitz and gave captain Harris the chance to break the half-century for North’s most awesome performance for quite some time.

North Bristol scorers: Tries – Craig Perrett (2), Chris Gransden, Steve Hudd, Ben Hurkett, Chris Oliver, Mike Stevens, Brian Taylor, Vince Tesson; Conversions – Dan Harris (3).