A LATE try condemned North Bristol to a narrow defeat at Matson.

That both sides combined to scored seven tries between them on a puddle-ridden and quagmire of a pitch was credit to all who entered the field of play. North Bristol continued to press down the slope and a dart through two defenders by fly-half Phil Sterry, who enjoyed a fine game, gave him the opportunity for a neat offload to centre Jonny Gait for a try after 18 minutes. Dan Snow kicked the extras.

Matson scored their first try after 26 minutes to come back at 5-7. Despite the conditions, North Bristol scored one of their best tries of the season after 34 minutes. An off-the-top lineout win from John Wood gave quick ball to the North backs, where Sterry put Gait through from his own ten metre line. The centre raced through and he drew the last defender to put in the scorching Mike Lewis for a super score. Snow again hit the target and North were 14-5 up.

Almost from the kick-off Sterry scythed through and a 50-metre gain should have resulted in another try for Lewis, but the ball went to ground. North were denied a penalty try just before half time when, from a scrum five metres out, the pack drove the Matson eight back towards their own line and just before Smith was about to score the try it appeared as though a Matson boot kicked the ball out of the scrum.

The ball was not over the line and the referee said play on. With the slope, Matson played the game in the corner and after 45 minutes they were back on the attack and narrowed the score to 10-14 with a try and repeated the dose eight minutes later. With the conversion the home side led for the first time at 17-14.

Back came North Bristol, and with their first bit of possession in the second period they won a penalty. Snow calmly slotted the kick to tie things up at 17-17. The game swung back Matson’s way as they kicked a fine penalty to take them back ahead at 20-17 after 67 minutes.

North threw everything into attack and from a catch-and-drive lineout Jake Holcombe emerged from the muddied bodies with a try that Snow converted and North were back ahead with three minutes remaining.

Matson came back for one last chance and despite some heroic defence the referee awarded his final penalty, which Matson kicked for the corner. Three phases later they scrambled over for an injury time try to take the game 25-24.

A losing bonus point was scant reward for North, whose effort warranted more, but Matson were left to celebrate a hard-fought Western Counties North win.

North Bristol scorers: Tries – Jonny Gait, Jake Holcombe, Mike Lewis; Conversions – Dan Snow (3); Penalty – Dan Snow.