It was clear from the moment Leeds arrived in Bristol that the conditions were going to play a huge part in the outcome.
Earlier in the day, Leeds had accepted the RFU’s decision to replay their recent home clash against Plymouth Albion and, with those points expunged from the record, it left Leeds level on points with Bristol in fifth spot before kick off.
The fixture will take place again on February 3 at West Park Leeds.
Carnegie’s games against Newcastle on February 10 and London Scottish on March 3 will also be played away from Headingley, at Otley’s Cross Green.
The wind whipped through the Memorial Ground and was strongly at the back of the home team in the first half. Bristol’s fly-half Adrian Jarvis, who was part of the Leeds team that famously survived in the Premiership four seasons ago, was the main strike weapon as they opted to kick for goal at every opportunity.
Bristol had chances on the Leeds line but good defence kept them out, however Premiership referee JP Doyle was not happy with the visitors and awarded Bristol three penalties in the opening quarter within range for Jarvis. The third one saw Leeds reduced to 14 men when second row Dominic Barrow was sin-binned for a professional foul. Jarvis kicked all three.
Leeds were barely able to get out of their own 22 in the first half, but given the strength of the wind the game was still very much in the balance.
As predicted, the flow of the game swung completely in the second half as Leeds moved into the ascendency. Rory Clegg was only cleared to play in the game by Harlequins, from whom he is on loan from, in midweek but Leeds were grateful for his presence. He got Leeds off the mark with a sensational 40-metre effort after 46 minutes and then saw a drop goal attempt from inside his own half hit the post and rebound away. A subsequent penalty hit the other post before he found his range with his third penalty attempt to cut the deficit to half.
Jarvis missed a penalty chance from a rare visit to the Leeds half, but the conditions were getting worse by the minute with sleet falling heavily. Clegg cut the gap to 12-9 but Leeds were unable to build on that.
The visitors’ challenge was made even tougher when replacement hooker Joe Graham was sin-binned with 15 minutes remaining for deliberately coming through offside to stop a scoring chance.
Leeds had a chance at the death when they were awarded a penalty near their own line.
Clegg made nearly 60 metres with his kick but from the lineout, James Doherty’s kick over the top was caught in the wind and ran dead.
Bristol: Tovey; Watkins, Eves, Mosses, Edwards; Jarvis, Grindal (Tipuna, 60); Traynor (Lilley, 74), Johnston (Lawrence, 65), Hobson, Sambucetti, Townson, Mama, Pennycook, Eadie. Replacements not used: Thompson, Glynn, Faosiliva, Roberts.
Leeds Carnegie: McColl, Clark, Griffin, Lucock, D Doherty, Clegg, Hampson (J Doherty, 56), Lockwood (Harris, 66), Nilsen (Graham, 62), Tussac, Green (Smith, 62), Barrow (Myerscough, 56), Baldwin, Rowan, Burrows. Replacement not used: Hooper, Georgiou
Referee: JP Doyle.