Rarely can two defeats have given a team as much hope as Yorkshire Carnegie’s recent results against unbeaten Bristol.
Yorkshire returned to the scene of the crime where they had their pockets picked five days earlier in the league to face big-spending Bristol in the quarter-finals of the British & Irish Cup and once again gave a bold account before ultimately losing out.
A week earlier they had led 28-10 going into the final 10 minutes before three late tries won it for the league leaders, but in this encounter Bristol were better value for their win.
On the day that Bristol announced the signing of Gavin Henson, they made 13 changes to their starting line-up and fielded an arguably stronger side than on Sunday as they drafted in British Lion Dwayne Peel to captain the team.
In contrast, Yorkshire included two debutants in their match-day squad in young Harlequins fly-half Louis Grimoldby in the starting line up and former Oxford University scrum-half Sam Egerton on the bench.
The two teams shared six tries in the first half.
Bristol stretched out to an early 17-7 lead after Chris Jones had cancelled out George Watkins’s early try. Bristol hit back with a try from back row Josh Evans.
However, Yorkshire crossed for two tries, the first created by prop Lee Imiolek who blocked an attempted chip kick over the defence before catching and passing to David Doherty to score.
Scrum-half Egerton then marked his debut after replacing Dudman by galloping in from 50m.
Grimoldby converted both tries to give his side a 21-17 lead.
Typically Bristol came right back and they managed to re-take the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Prop Jack O’Connell managed to force his way over. Robinson kicked the conversion to make the half-time score 24-21.
The visitors suffered the worst possible start to the second half when they conceded a try inside two minutes.
Once again the line-out drive was the hosts’ main strike weapon and back-row Ovens went over for his second try. Robinson gave his side a 10-point lead with the conversion.
Robinson extended his side’s lead with a penalty after 63 minutes, but Yorkshire looked to have set up a tense finale when Oli Goss brilliantly took Egerton’s offload to score. Georgiou added the conversion to make it 34-28 with six minutes to go.
However, Bristol made sure of their place in the semi-final with a try in the last minute from replacement winger Charlie Amesbury, converted by former Carnegie player Adrian Jarvis, to complete the scoring.
Bristol: Hudson, Watkins, Tovey, Carpenter, Short (Amesbury, 73), Robinson (Jarvis, 71), Peel (Baldwin, 65), O’Connell, Lawrence (Stephenson, 79), Cortes (Hall, 56), Glynn (Townson, 77), Sorenson, Koster (Joyce, 79), Ovens, Skirving.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Georgiou, Doherty, Clarke, Goss, Tai (Allen, 29), Grimoldby (Barnard, 68), Dudman (Egerton, 32), Imiolek, Nilsen (Graham, 56), Tideswell (Hooper, 56), Preston-Routledge, Smith, Ramshaw, Bainbridge, Jones.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.