Full-time report: Bristol Rugby 20 Newcastle Falcons 37
Full:time Bristol 20 Newcastle 37
BRISTOL made a losing start to their new Championship campaign, as they went down by four tries to two against recently-relegated Newcastle Falcons
Bristol competed well but were without nine senior players, which showed as fly-half Jimmy Gopperth inspired Newcastle to a bonus-point victory at the Memorial Stadium.
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Youngster Ryan Edwards and Luke Eves scored Bristol's tries – but Tane Tu'ipulotu, Luke Fielden (twice) and Ally Hogg crossed for Newcastle, while Gopperth contributed 17 points from the tee.
Newcastle led 21-13 at half-time after outscoring their hosts by two tries to one.
Bristol opened the scoring with a Tristan Roberts penalty on six minutes after a long advantage was played – only for Newcastle to respond through Gopperth almost straight from the kick-off when the home side were penalised for an obstruction.
Tu'ipulotu grabbed the game's first try on 12 minutes when he took Gopperth's pass and finished clinically – but the fly-half missed the conversion attempt.
Roberts missed a penalty when Newcastle were penalised for dropping their bind at a scrum – but Edwards levelled matters with an 18th-minute try and Roberts' conversion nudged Bristol into a 10-8 lead.
Young winger Edwards took his opportunity to impress, powering over after good work from Luke Eves and Ross Johnston in the build-up.
A Roberts penalty extended Bristol's lead to 13-8 – only for two quick-fire Gopperth penalties to give Newcastle a one-point lead.
And the Falcons built on their advantage on 32 minutes when, after they had switched play left from a line-out, Hogg put Fielden through to score. Gopperth converted to give his side a 21-13 lead at the break.
After half-time, a Gopperth penalty and Fielden's second try – scored after good work from former Bristol man Andrew Higgins – saw the visitors increase their lead to 29-13. Another Gopperth penalty made that 32-13, before Eves, playing against his former club, scored after Roberts broke from a scrum.
Roberts' conversion made it 32-20 – but Newcastle had the final say when flanker Hogg crossed late on.
Bristol: J Goodridge; R Edwards (D McIlwaine 74), J Gadd, L Eves, M Tagicakibau; T Roberts (M Jones 80), J Grindal (R Tipuna 59); K Traynor, R Johnston (R Lawrence 74), W Thompson (B Douglas 51), M Sambucetti (B Glynn 51), G Townson, I Grieve (capt), R Pennycook (J Merriman 59), M Mama.
Scorers: Tries – Edwards, Eves. Cons – Roberts (2). Pens – Roberts (2).
Newcastle: L Fielden; A Higgins ( W Luveniyali 66), A Crockett, T Tu'ipulotu, R Shortland; J Gopperth, C Pilgrim (R Lawson 54); J Golding, R Vickers (M Thompson 74), O Tomaszczyk (J Hall 59), S Tomes (S MacLeod 61), J Hudson, A Hogg, W Welch (capt), T Tu'ifua (R Mayhew 74). Rep not used: J Fitzpatrick.
Scorers: Tries – Tu'ipulotui, Fielden (2), Hogg. Con – Gopperth. Pens – Gopperth (5).
Ref: T Wigglesworth. Att: 4,851.