First victory still eludes Sonics but coach remains upbeat
BRISTOL Sonics' search for a first Conference League Three victory continues after a frustrating afternoon in Nottingham, where the Outlaws came from behind to record a 46-20 victory.
Sonics dominated the opening 20 minutes, flying into a 12-0 lead thanks to close-range tries from prop forward Ryan Hall and loose forward Wes Rodgers.
At that stage, the home side were struggling to compete with Sonics' aggressive defence and hard running.
Despite their good start, however, Sonics were unable to keep possession and the Outlaws soon made them pay. Going in at half-time 20-12 ahead, the home side used the ball well, ran aggressively and forced a number of goal-line drop-outs.
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However Sonics' coach Karl Fearnley, pictured, was left incredibly frustrated by the number of penalties awarded by the referee.
"The referee calls the game how he sees it, and some of the penalties he awarded against us were deserved as our discipline lapsed," said Fearnley. "However, there seemed no consistency in the way he applied the rules."
Nottingham dominated much of the second half and the Sonics' did well to restrict them to 26 points.
"I can't fault the lads' defensive effort," said Fearnley. "But, when you are under that much pressure, eventually you're going to crack.
"There were a lot of things to be positive about today. The attitude and application were first-class."
At least, Sonics had the final word as they finished the better of the two sides and scored two good tries in the dying minutes.
Debutant Aaron Pearson capped a fine performance by stepping around some tired defenders to touch down following a rare penalty. Then, on the final hooter, winger James Raymond hared 60 metres down the left wing to touch down.
It was no more than Raymond deserved after a great all-round performance that saw him appear high up the tackle count – a rarity for a winger.
Fearnley was full of praise for Pearson as well as fellow debutant, forward Jake Robertson.
"It's asking lads a lot to step up from student Rugby League to Conference League Three, but both Aaron and Jake were outstanding," he said. Despite the defeat, Fearnley remains upbeat.
"We were more focused and together than we have been so far this season," he said. "When we had the ball and field position we looked good."
Sonics' next game is against fellow strugglers Bramley Buffaloes at Aretians RFC this Saturday (2.30pm). Entrance is free.