British & Irish Cup Pool 2

Bristol 35 Leinster A 46

BRISTOL head coach Pat Lam was left frustrated after his side slipped to their second defeat in the British & Irish Cup as the young Leinster A side continued their unbeaten run in the competition with maximum points at the top of Pool 2.

The scoreline may slightly flatter Bristol as they scored two converted tries in the final stages when Leinster had a player in the sin-bin - first scrum-half Charlie Rock and, when he returned, fly-half Cathal Marsh.

Bristol are now nine points behind Leinster A in the table with just the five Pool winners and the best three runners-up going through to the knockout stages of the competition in the New Year.

The home side included eight internationals in their starting line-up but Leinster A can expect a far stronger side when the sides meet in the return leg in Donnybrook on Friday evening, kick off 7.30pm.

“We will select a group of players [for Friday’s game] that will prepare us for the visit of the Pirates because we want to ensure that we have a good couple of weeks build-up for that Championship game,” said head coach Pat Lam.

“I was frustrated by some of the tries that we conceded and there will be some embarrassment when the squad regroup on Monday. There is no point in crying over spilt milk - we have to learn.

“Bristol rugby will never come down to the level of the players, it’s about making sure that we have a lot of depth in the squad - some guys are stepping up to the mark while others still have some work to do.

“It's important that the work and the preparation that they do comes out when they get the opportunity. It's about being able to step-in and do the job - whoever wears the jersey. There are some good lessons from the game for all of us as a group. “I would never want Bristol to be dependent on any individual - it's about coming in, doing the job, sticking to the system. If you do that, its quite an easy and enjoyable game but when you don’t it certainly becomes frustrating.”

Leinster A created the perfect platform with fly-half Marsh opening the scoring with two penalties before he added the extras to captain Bryan Byrne’s two quick tries to add to centre Gavin Mullin earlier touchdown.

Bristol’s reply came through debutant flanker Sam Graham, former England international wing Tom Varndell and ex-England U20 full-back Mat Protheroe with fly-half Callum Sheedy landing the three conversions.

Mullin added his second touchdown just after the restart before the Irishmen mounted a stout defence and then mounting a counter-attack with second row Ian Nagle crossing the whitewash and Marsh adding the extras.

Despite Rock being in the sin-bin, another counter-attack from deep which led to flanker Peadar Timmins scoring Leinster A’s sixth try which Marsh duly converting. But Bristol, sensing a possible losing bonus point mounted a late surge.

Tries from replacements Jack Tovey and Rhodri Williams, both converted by Billy Searle, reduced the deficit to eleven points. No sooner had Rock return to the action than Marsh replaced him on the sidelines but they kept Bristol at bay.Bristol scorers - tries: S Graham, T Varndell, M Protheroe, J Tovey, R Williams; cons: C Sheedy 3, B Searle 2 Leinster A scorers - tries: G Mullin 2, B Byrne 2, I Nagle, P Timmins; cons: C Marsh 5; pens: C Marsh 2 Bristol: M Protheroe; D Lemi, A Leiua (J Tovey, 23), S Piutau (capt), T Varndell (R Williams, 68), C Sheedy (B Searle, 60), A Uren; R Bevington (J Cosgrove, 60), N Fenton-Wells, S Faletau (O Dawe, 66), G Nemsadze, J Batley, S Graham (J Joyce, 79) O Robinson, J Lam (B Gompels, 75).

Leinster A: C Frawley (H O’Sullivan, 72); J Kelly (H Keenan, 60), G Mullin, C O’Brien, T O’Brien; (I Fitzpatrick, 75) C Marsh, C Rock; P Dooley, B Byrne (capt), (R Kelleher, 75), V Abdaladze (E Byrne, 12) J Murphy (C Doris, 72), I Nagle, P Timmins, W Connors (C Daly, 79), M Deegan.

Yellow cards: C Rock (68-78); C Marsh (79) Referee: Gareth John (WRU) Att: 6254