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Bristol Rugby 68 Cardiff Blues Premiership Select 0

19th January 2018

Cardiff Blues Premiership Select's British and Irish Cup campaign came to an end with a 68-0 defeat to a strong Bristol side at Ashton Gate on Friday.

The young visitors were taught a harsh lesson, as the hosts, who included 10 internationals in their starting line-up, ran in for 10 tries on a bitterly cold evening in the West Country.

Justin Burnell's side were dealt a blow ahead of kick-off, as they were forced to make a late change, with Ben Murphy ruled out through illness.

Owain Lloyd moved from the blindside to replace Murphy in the second row, while Sion Edwards was added to the back row.

Bristol, looking to gain momentum ahead of a crucial block of games in the English Championship, named a strong side for the encounter, including Irish international Ian Madigan, Wallabies wing Luke Morahan and influential number eight, Jack Lam.

Despite encouraging signs by the young Cardiff Blues side in the early stages, it was the hosts who opened the scoring. Alapati Leiua made yards on the left hand side, and Bristol made the most of numbers on the wide right, spreading out to former Scarlets and Gloucester flanker, Dan Thomas, who slid in unopposed.

Madigan converted, before former Scarlet, Jordan Williams, made it a quickfire double for the home side. The full back hacked the ball past wing Corey Howells, and gathered to dive over in the corner.

Williams almost crossed for his second shortly after, latching onto a Madigan cross-field kick, but knocked on within meters of the line. 

Cardiff Blues PS won the resulting scrum, but when a clearance from scrum-half Scott Gibson failed to exit the 22, Bristol showed their ruthlessness, going through the phases and building an overlap for Nick Haining to touch down out wide.

Mid-way through the first half, Bristol secured their bonus point, as a flat pass from Madigan paved the way for Haining to slice through, running in from halfway for his second of the evening.

Burnell’s side came within inches of putting points on the board, as line speed put pressure on Samoan international Tusi Pisi, who knocked backwards, but centre Josh Martin failed to gather the loose ball, with the try-line at his mercy.

There were promising signs for the visitors, with James Botham, who was named in the Wales Under-20’s side earlier in the week, making a nuisance of himself in defence, while Martin carried strong with the ball in-hand.

A series of Bristol errors gave the visitors another try-scoring opportunity on the verge of half time. 

Ben Thomas opted for touch from a penalty on the 22, and Cardiff Blues went through the phases before O’Sullivan penalised Bristol for offside on their own 5m line. Thomas again went for the line-out, but Burnell’s side failed to break through the organised defence, who eventually forced the knock on to bring the first half to an end.

Cardiff Blues Premiership Select were forced to concede a line-out on their own 5m line early in the second half, and the inevitable drive allowed Ben Gompels to touch down from the base for Bristol’s fifth try of the evening, making it 33 unanswered points.

Once again Bristol’s game management saw them build an overlap out wide, and this time is was Leiua who touched down to hit the 40-point mark.

Botham’s strong hit on Jack Wallace forced the replacement to knock on, with Jack Roberts picking up the scraps and spreading wide. Great distribution from props Keiron Assiratti and Corey Domachowski saw the ball shipped wide quickly to wing Howells.

The youngster hacks the ball past his opposite number, Australian international Luke Morahan, and won the foot race, but couldn’t gather the awkward bounce as he looked clear for a score.

Andy Uren squeezed in a try between a Billy Searle brace to take the home side past the 60-points mark, before lock Joe Joyce capped the win with a try in the corner.