WITH nine internationals in their squad, it was always expected Bristol would beat Yorkshire Carnegie last night.
To put that into context, James Lowes’s team did not have a single cap amongst them.
Nevertheless, it did not appear that way when they started with such purpose and direction; for the early part of this game, it was the determined hosts who looked more likely to take control.
The problem, however, was that despite all their early pressure and endeavour, Carnegie did not reap any rewards.
They were slightly off the mark with a couple of chances and left pointless when, as so many sides have discovered in the Championship this season, you must make the most of every opportunity against this star-studded Bristol team.
If you don’t, you live to regret your profligacy.
Carnegie suffered that same fate as, with the visitors’ first real attack of note, veteran Samoan centre Tusi Pisi sliced through to score a try in the 15th minute and take a lead they never looked like relinquishing.
Indeed, Pat Lam’s side – yes, even the coach is an international – were 23-0 up at the break and easing to a ninth straight league win, their 100 per cent record firmly intact.
That said, Carnegie never relented and, in fairness, produced arguably the try of the night when, after some lovely handling and surely more than 20 phases, Richard Beck finally crossed just before the hour.
When they added a second soon after, scrum-half Will Homer’s perfectly-delayed pass in midfield unleashing Stevie McColl who scampered in from 40m before adding his second conversion, there was even faint hopes of a famous comeback at 30-14.
However, as Lowes’s side sought to keep the ball alive again, it went to ground and allowed possession for ex-Northampton hooker Ross McMillan to ease any potential jitters for their relegated Premiership opponents.
Luke Morahan, the former Australia winger, added his second try of the evening after another classy move from Bristol and Ian Madigan completed his faultless night with the boot, a fifth conversion on the back of three first-half penalties.
Such accuracy should not be any surprise; the former Leinster No 10 has 30 caps having been British Lion Jonathan Sexton’s long-time deputy for Ireland.
Morahan’s first had come in the first half after a mis-match with Carnegie lock Jack Whetton in the 33rd minute while Jordan Williams scored their other try at the start of the second period before Carnegie made that response.
Indiscipline cost the home side at times again, though, Ollie Stedman conceding a penalty for an off-the-ball incident in back play when his side was in possession.
But given their continuing injury problems this was a fine effort against such a dominant team and there was a welcome return for Fred Burdon off the bench.
The 27-year-old centre spent last season at Newcastle Falcons but, in his first game back in Carnegie colours, he showed some neat touches which will serve them well for the remainder of this campaign.
Lowes’s side, who remain in sixth, head to Jersey Reds next Saturday before the home visit from winless Rotherham Titans on December 3.
Yorkshire Carnegie: McColl; Watkins, Elder, Casson (Burdon 45), Brown; Lucock, Homer (Fox 72); Thomas (Capps 78), Buckle (Newborn 78), Beech (Thraves 62), Whetton, Myerscough (West 62), Beck, Mayhew, Stedman (Bainbridge 65).
Bristol: J Williams (Hurrell 64); Mahan, Tovey, Pisi (R Williams 68), Varndell; Madigan, Uren (Sheedy 68); Bevington, McMillan (Gompels 72), Cortes (Tonga’uiha 64), Joyce (Thomas 64), Jeffries, Luatua, Thomas, Crane (Batley 62).
Referee: Hamish Smales.
Debutant Jessica Breach scored six tries as England Women marked a milestone game with a comprehensive 79-5 victory against Canada.
The Red Roses, in their first game since the Rugby Football Union confirmed the team would receive match fees for the first time, ran in 13 tries at Allianz Park in London.
Harlequins winger Breach raced over on England’s left on three separate occasions as she completed a hat-trick in the opening half-hour.
Other tries came from Rachael Burford, Abigail Dow (2), Amy Cokayne, Marlie Packer, Rochelle Clark and Ellie Kildunne.