Plymouth Albion 8 Bristol Rugby 21: Bristol up to fifth after mastering conditions at Albion
BRISTOL Rugby made it back-to-back Championship victories with a confident and dominant display in terrible conditions at Brickfields.
Liam Middleton's side backed up their recent win over Jersey by leapfrogging Plymouth into fifth place in the table by controlling the game against Albion.
Whether the match went ahead appeared to be touch-and-go about an hour before kick-off, with several areas of standing water on the field.
But Bristol showed superb mental strength and nous to play the conditions effectively, deploying a sensible game-plan that had Plymouth under all kinds of pressure throughout.
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Bristol led 14-3 at half-time after mastering the conditions, putting the hosts under regular pressure by launching a series of high, swirling kicks into their 22.
The opening exchanges were almost exclusively played out in Plymouth's sodden half of the field, with Bristol looking the more able to deal with the wind, rain and difficult surface.
The visitors made an excellent start, pinning Plymouth in their own 22 after Adrian Jarvis' booming up-and-under was not dealt with by Albion. From the scrum, Bristol earned a penalty, opted for another scrum and Ruki Tipuna threw a long pass out to George Watkins, who finished in the corner.
Jarvis missed the conversion, and Paul Roberts kicked Plymouth to within two points with a penalty, but the Albion fightback was brief as Bristol continued to enjoy the better of the first half.
Jarvis made it 8-3 with a 20-metre penalty and 11-3 from slightly further out after a scrummaging offence, before Albion lost hooker Jon Vickers to the sin-bin.
Bristol immediately made their numerical advantage count, Jarvis knocking over a 30-metre penalty to make it 14-3 at the break.
The visitors continued to look assured after half-time, with the second half not really coming to life until a brawl 19 minutes in, which saw opposing No 8s Sean-Michael Stephen and Mitch Eadie sin-binned and Plymouth prop Jack Andrew shown a red card for throwing a punch.
Bristol soon added a second try when Redford Pennycook powered over following a line-out drive, with the influential Jarvis landing the conversion for a 21-3 lead.
Plymouth had barely threatened the Bristol line, but finished strongly despite having 14 men, with Rhodri McAtee going over late on after a lengthy spell of Albion pressure.
However, the contest had long been decided by then, and Bristol will be looking to build on their recent mini-revival when London Scottish visit the Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Plymouth Albion: H Slade; T Howley-Berridge (R McAtee 72), K Fisilau, B Armitage, T Bowen; P Roberts, R Cushion (P Rowley 72); J Andrew, J Vickers (T Cowan-Dickie 72), L Fairbrother, H Tovey, R Nasiga, S Hocking, W Sprangle (T Cowan-Dickie 46-49 & L Cowan-Dickie 64), S-M Stephen (capt; I Ascroft-Leigh, 70). Reps not used: D Morton, S Matavesi.
Scorers: Try – McAtee. Pen – Roberts.
Sin-binned: Vickers (40-49), Stephen (59-70).
Sent off: Andrew (59).
Bristol: J Tovey; G Watkins, L Eves, B Mosses, M Tagicakibau; A Jarvis, R Tipuna; B Douglas (M Lilley 80), R Johnston (R Lawrence 80), J Hobson (G Cortes 63), M Sambucetti (G Biagi 80), G Townson, I Grieve (capt), R Pennycook (M Mama 74), M Eadie. Reps not used: J Grindal, T Roberts.
Scorers: Tries – Watkins, Pennycook. Con – Jarvis. Pens – Jarvis (3).
Sin-binned: Eadie (59-70).
Referee: Ian Tempest. Att: 1,358.