Greene King IPA Championship

Richmond 22 Bristol 57

By John Harding

BRISTOl will go into 2018 unbeaten in the Greene King IPA Championship and nine points clear of second placed Ealing Trailfinders but they were made to work hard for this latest victory at the Athletic Ground as the sides were tied a 22-22 at half time.

But they were a different animal in the second half as they scored 35 unanswered points to pick-up their twelfth try scoring bonus point from their 13 matches as full back Jordan Williams crossed for three of his side’s eight tries in the match.

Williams, who is heading across the Severn to join Guinness PRO!4 side the Dragons next season, becomes one the fifth player to score two League hat-trick for Bristol joining Luke Nabaro, Sean Marsden, George Watkins and David Lemi.

Bristol head coach Pat Lam bemoaned his side’s slow start and added: “We knew they would be up, so we had to control the ball better and stay in the system. Mentally, as a group, we weren't on the job. It's a good lesson.

"It's fair to say that we were succinct with what we needed to say at half-time. We were losing the collisions and we allowed them to dominate us - I'm pleased with how we responded.”

Bristol’s next game isn’t until Saturday, January 13 when they travel to Castle Park to face Doncaster Knights in the B&I Cup. Lam added: “Boys will have a few days off with their families now. That's thirteen wins in a row, so we are in a good place, but we have to kick on now in the New Year.”

Richmond struck first with a try in the corner from wing Jon Woodward but the visitors were soon back on level terms as wing Luke Morahan collected a kick from outside centre Siale Piutau before taking the lead as Williams claimed his first a few minutes later.

Ian Madigan added the extras only for Woodward to reduced the arrears as he crossed the whitewash for a second time. Midway through the half, Madigan landed a penalty from in front pf the posts.

An overlap allowed Jordan Simpson-Heff to level the scores but the touchline conversion from full back Rob Kirby nudged the home side back in front. With the half hour approaching Williams picked-up a loose ball to cross for his second.

Madigan was agin on target with his conversion but scrum half Luc Jones darted over from close range for Richmond’s bonus point try, but Kirby hit the post with his conversion attempt.

On the stroke of half time Simpson-Heff was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on so the home side started the second period with a man down and the Bristol players having some stern words ringing in their ears.

No.8 Jordan Crane scored the bonus point try with Williams completing his hat-trick with a 50 metre dash to the line after scrum half Andy Uren had given the final pass. Flanker Steven Luatua marked his return from injury to score a close race effort.

Replacement full back Mat Protheroe crossed for two late tries with Madigan adding four second half conversions and Callum Sheed, who replaced skipper Tusi Pisi for the final quarter, landing one.

Richmond scorers - tries: Woodward (2), Simpson-Hefft, Jones; con: Kirby Bristol scorers - tries Williams (3), Protheroe (2), Morahan, Crane, Luatua; cons: Madigan (6), Sheedy; pen Madigan.

Richmond: R Kirby (R Adamson 60), J Woodward, C Mitchell, C Hudson, J Simpson-Hefft, J Swan (F Gabbitass 68), L Jones, J Cunnew (W Goodrick-Clarke 52), R Grimstone, J Tarrant (C Trenier 57), W Warden (capt), C Davies (T Saysell 40), J Liston (T Saysell 25-38), J Allcock (J Phipps 53), J Parker (H Edwards 25) Richmond yellow card Simpson-Hefft Bristol: J Williams (M Protheroe 57), L Morahan, S Piutau (J Williams 74), T Pisi (capt, C Sheedy 60), A Leiua, I Madigan, A Uren (R Glynn 68), S Tonga’uiha (R Bevington 53), J Harris-Wright (N Fenton-Wells 33-40, 68), S Faletau (A Giltrow 68), J Joyce, S Jeffries, S Luatua, D Thomas, J Crane (J Batley 53) Referee: A Leal (RFU) Attendance: 1,424