Full-time report: Cardiff 14 Bristol Rugby 23
BRISTOL returned to winning ways with a deserved British & Irish Cup victory at the Arms Park – but they did not make life easy for themselves in the Welsh capital.
Bristol's second-half display was enough to turn around a 9-6 half-time deficit and give them a victory that ended a run of three straight defeats, with Ryan Edwards and Mitch Eadie scoring tries.
Bristol had planned to use this two-week block of B&I Cup games against Cardiff and Ulster to restore momentum ahead of their Championship clash with Bedford on October 28 – and they are on course after this afternoon's victory.
Bristol led 6-0 through two Matthew Jones penalties, either side of Cardiff prop Lewis Smout seeing yellow, before Joe Griffin kicked Cardiff level with two penalties of his own.
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And when Matt Williams was sin-binned for killing the ball on the stroke of half-time, Griffin kicked Cardiff into the lead, despite Bristol plenty of early pressure and territory.
Cardiff made the most of their numerical advantage early in the second half, when Cory Allen tore up-field to score and give the hosts a 14-6 lead, but Griffin missed the conversion and soon Bristol were right back in the game.
After sending a penalty to touch, Bristol worked the ball left and, with the referee playing advantage for a deliberate Cardiff knock-on, the loose ball fell to Welsh winger Edwards, who dived over. Replacement Tristan Roberts knocked over the conversion to cut Cardiff's lead to a single point.
Bristol's Mariano Sambucetti was yellow-carded – and Cardiff's Ellis Jenkins saw red – for an off-the-ball tussle, before Edwards had two efforts ruled out, the first for a knock-on, the second for a forward pass, as Bristol poured forward.
Replacement George Watkins, making his first appearance of the season after injury, made one probing break, before Roberts kicked Bristol in front with a penalty. Bristol extended their lead when the impressive Eadie burrowed over in the closing minutes, with Roberts adding the extras to secure a nine-point winning margin.
Cardiff: S Hopkins; S Powell (capt), O Williams, C Allen, S Cullen (J Davies 63); J Griffin, R Lewis (M Woodward 80); L Smout (W-G John 80), A Fowler (K Dacey 65), S Gardiner (C Lewis 80), A Lee (D Partridhe 73), M Cook, D Crimmins (T Young 34), E Jenkins (C Lewis 24-34), L Hamilton. Scorers: Try – Allen. Pens – Griffin (3). Sin-binned: Smout (21-34, persistent infringement). Sent off: Jenkins (59, fighting).
Bristol: D McIlwaine; R Edwards, L Eves, B Mosses, M Williams (G Watkins 52); M Jones (T Roberts 47), R Tipuna (J Grindal 63); M Lilley (W Davis 80), T Channon (W Tanner 80), G Cortes (W Thompson 51), M Sambucetti, G Townson, R Winters, I Grieve (capt), M Eadie. Rep not used: S Uren. Scorers: Tries – Edwards, Edwards. Cons – Roberts (2). Pens – Jones (2), Roberts. Sin-binned: Williams (40-49), Sambucetti (59-70, fighting).
Referee: C Rudkin.