North Bristol 19-20 Avon Rugby
Western Counties North
Sat 6th Dec 2014
By Steve Bird
After twice going down to single point defeats in recent weeks, fortune favoured Avon this time as they edged a 20-19 away win against a doughty North Bristol side.
The hosts dominated the first quarter and were good value for their 8 nil lead, courtesy of a penalty from influential fly half Dan Snow and a try from dangerous centre Jim Bowden. Meanwhile Avon were making too many unforced errors and had difficulty in stringing together any concerted phases. The closest they came to scoring was from a strong 5 metre scrum before being inexplicably penalised and later when a Rob Fitch penalty bounced back from the crossbar.
Avon’s woes were compounded when powerful centre Zak Harwood was carried off with a serious-looking knee injury but the subsequent reshuffle did present the opportunity for 17 year old Alex Gapper to make his senior debut at scrum half. Then shortly before the interval, Fitch eagerly intercepted a wayward pass on half way and sprinted up field for a try in the corner, which he magnificently converted from the touch line.
A probing run from Chris Mutlow after the break forced North Bristol to concede a penalty which Fitch slotted to give Avon the lead and to bring up his 100 points for the season. This was immediately cancelled out by another Snow penalty as Avon tried an over ambitious move from deep inside their own half.
The game continued to follow a scrappy pattern with very little fluent play. A surging run from Ben Dilloway briefly showed signs of promise but a couple of lineout drives were easily repelled by resolute home defence before North stretched their lead with a second try from Bowden. Avon responded strongly and, after a penalty attempt rebounded back into play, they forced a turnover and quickly recycled the ball wide where centre Ross Atherton stood the defence still for a fine try in the corner. Not to be outdone, North attacked from the restart and forced another penalty from Snow to again widen their lead.
With the match entering injury time, Avon skipper Kai Harwood took the game by the scruff of the neck with a 40 metre charge from the base of a scrum, leaving a trail of despairing tacklers in his wake to score a memorable individual try. This gave Avon a single point lead which they protected fiercely despite an unprecedented 12 minutes of injury time which finally ended after a last gasp penalty attempt from Snow drifted wide of the target.