Saints go down fighting at Bristol
OA Saints turn in much-improved performance at Bristol
Bristol 17 OA Saints 0
ON a cold blustery day the OA Saints made the long journey down to Bristol for their fourth Premiership fixture of the season.
The fixtures between the two sides last year had been extremely close and after a much improved performance against Wasps the week before, the Saints were eager to get underway.
The Saints started very positively spending a good 10 minutes in the Bristol half with captain Leah Carey and the forwards putting pressure on the two Bristol half-backs with some big tackles right from the first whistle and forcing them to feed off scraps at the rucks.
Bristol used the wind to their advantage to eventually clear their lines and force the Saints to play in their own 22 for the next section of the game. After some excellent defence by fly-half Simone Shepherd and centres Caroline Collie and Zoe Farrell the Saints defence was proving a tough nut to crack.
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Bristol eventually made the breakthrough, driving over the blind side to make the score 5-0.
The Saints fought back with some excellent pick and gos from the forwards, including Louise Allen and Ellisha Dee, making some good yards before giving the backs some quick ball.
Unfortunately Bristol grabbed the next score when they break through the centre of midfield and although full-back Kate Barnes stopped the runner dead in her tracks she couldn’t stop the offload to the supporting runner who went through to make the score 10-0 to Bristol.
Through some bad luck for the Saints, Bristol ran straight back from the re-start to pick a hole in the Saints defence and run unopposed to score under the posts. The kicker converted to make the score Bristol 15 Saints 0.
The Saints worked the phases well to get the ball back into the Bristol half and keep them under pressure as the whistle went for half time.
The Saints spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped in the Bristol 22 with the harsh wind now affecting the home side’s clearance kicks. Bristol’s discipline started to let them down and gave the Saints numerous penalties from which the forwards dominated the breakdown and were held up just over the line after numerous phases.
From the subsequent scrum OAs managed to get the ball wide only for the last pass to not quite go to hand and the ball was turned over.
Fly-half Shepherd managed to make use of an excellent scrum by the Saints to charge down a clearance kick but unfortunately the ball went out of play.
Bristol worked their way down the pitch into the Saints half with some good forward moves but their handling let them down and with some excellent tackles right across the Saints squad meant Bristol lost their momentum.
The Saints managed to work their way into the Bristol half within the last two minutes but couldn’t make use of the territory.
Overall this was the best defensive result for the OA Saints in their two years in the Premiership and there were plenty of positives to take forward into their next game against Darlington on October 23. All support is welcome.
Team: Brinsley, Esther, Dee, Knighton, Coleman, Pretty, Allen, Carey (Capt), Jones, Shepherd, Finn, Collie, Farrell, King, Barnes.
Reps: Whitten, Natasha B, Cameron, Abbie, Bird.