British and Irish Cup - Pool 2

Leinster A 50 Bristol 15

By John Harding

BRISTOL hopes of reaching the knockout stages of this season’s British & Irish Cup, with two Pool games still to play in January, are over as Leinster A completed a competition double to remain unbeaten at the top Pool 2.

Leinster A followed-up their 46-35 bonus point victory at Ashton Gate by running in eight tries at an icy-cold Donnybrook for their fourth consecutive bonus point victory and almost certain qualification for the quarter-finals.

With their eyes firmly focused on the return to GKIPA Championship action with the visit to Ashton Gate of Cornish Pirates on Friday evening, kick-off 7.30pm, Bristol fielded their youngest side of the season with an average of 23.38 years.

The visitors were forced to make one late change when Giorgi Nemsadze dropped out so Bristol Academy U18s George Kloska was promoted into the second row for his senior debut with Wales U18 international hooker Nick Freeman added to the replacements.

The young Irish side had secured a try-scoring bonus point as they went into the break with a commanding 33-5 advantage and all Bristol had to show for their efforts was a try from Chippenham RFC back row Sam Graham.

But by the time that Graham had finished off a sweeping move to slide over for the well-worked try the hosts had scored two quick fire tries through prop Ed Byrne and wing Tommy O’Brien with fly-half Cathal Marsh converting both.

“You can’t give a side like Leinster a 14 point lead and we never really got up to speed in the first half,” said Bristol’s Academy Manager Mike Hall who was in charge of the squad for the game in south Dublin.

“We regrouped at half time and we looked a completely different animal in the second half. But they scored a couple driving line outs which we struggled to defend in the second half when we also scored a couple of good tries.

“They [the Bristol players] will have learnt a lot from this game but you have to remember that the opposition was also a young side. We have to say that if we want to get to where we want in European rugby, then Leinster is what we aspire to.”

Inside centre Conor O’Brien was the next to cross the whitewash with Marsh adding the extras before Bristol full-back Jack Wallace raced back to half a certain try as he dragged wing Hugo Keenan into touch.

The bonus point try for the Irishmen cam just before the half hour with scrum-half Nick McCarthy scoring off the back of a neat close-range maul with Marsh adding the extras with his angled kick.

In to the second half as Leinster’s try-scoring machine kept rolling with No.8 Peader Timmins bouncing off tackles to go in under the sticks, Marsh converted, followed by a touchdown from skipper Bryan Byrne.

The No.8 added a second ten minutes later as he marshalled his pack over the line before England U18 Iwan Hughes, a pacey back three player in the Bristol Academy, crossed for two quick tries as the game went into the final quarter.

Bristol United are in ‘A’ League action on Monday evening (Dec 18) at the Stoop against Harlequins A, kick-off 7.30pm, before the Bristol U18 Academy face their Bath counterparts on Wednesday at the Bristol Grammar School Sports Complex in Failand, kick-off 1.30pm.

Leinster scorers - tries: E Byrne, T O’Brien, C O’Brien, N McCarthy 2, P Timmins, B Byrne 2; cons: C Marsh 5

Bristol scorers - tries S Graham, I Hughes 2;

Leinster A: C Frawley; H Keenan (J Kelly, 60), G Mullin, C O’Brien, T O’Brien; C Marsh (C Dean, 74), N McCarthy (C Rock, 56); E Byrne (J Aungier, 54), B Byrne (capt), R Kelleher, 65), M Bent, R Molony (C Doris, 50), I Nagle (O Dowling, 17-26, 28), J Murphy, W Connors, P Timmins

Bristol: J Wallace, R Edwards, J Tovey (capt), W Hurrell (J Newey, 54), A Chapman (I Hughes, 45); B Searle, R Glynn (R Cullen, 67); J O’Connell (J Cosgrove, 42), B Gompels (J Liney, 58), O Dawe (A Giltrow, 54), M Cresswell, J Batley (N Freeman, 32-40), G Kloska (N Freeman 40), J Capon, S Graham

Referee: A Jones (WRU)

Att: 1,180