The second of the 2 games at the Double Header involved Bristol, the newly promoted team and Harlequins, who’d had a rest from the whole double header thing in 2015. They were back in 2016, with the game forming part of the home fixtures offering for their fans.
It never ceases to amaze me that many fans choose not to watch both games, the attendance over the day was announced as 47,029 but I’m certain that number weren’t in the stadium all together.
Bristol had stormed the Championship yet again, finishing 16 points ahead of their nearest rivals Doncaster. They finished top in 13/14 8 points ahead of London Welsh and in 14/15 they were 6 points ahead of Worcester. In those seasons however it was the ‘runner up’ who was successful in the end of season play offs denying Bristol promotion. This time around they did what they needed in the final games of the season to win a place in the Premiership.
I have no affiliation to Bristol whatsoever but was more than thrilled when they finally managed to get themselves back. Would they be able to live with the existing teams? From what I saw at Twickenham that has to be a resounding YES!
I’m writing this days after the event so I’m not going to linger (too long), I was watching as a Saracens fan with a soft spot for Harlequins also wishing Bristol well in their new adventure. By the end of the match I was shouting with delight at the rugby being played by the ‘new boys’.
A man with more than a bit of Premiership rugby experience scored the first try for Bristol, Tom Varndell plucked a long pass out of the air to score under the posts, to the delight of every neutral in the ground. He’s a popular man in the rugby world. The conversion gave Bristol a 7 nil lead.
I seem to be becoming fascinated by the habits of sportsmen and there are few more obvious in rugby than those of the kicker. I’m very familiar with Nick Evans and his ‘rocking arms’ yet it still holds my attention every time, he converted a penalty awarded to Quins on 23 minutes to narrow the gap.
Bristol’s second try was an exciting one, a neat pass to Tusi Pisi after a Quins kick, saw him break through the Quins defence to run under the posts unimpeded – another easy converse and the score was Quins 3 Bristol 14!
Marland Yarde scored an unusual try for him, from the base of a maul after a Quins line out close to the Bristol line, I’m not sure how many he’ll get like that this season! As the halfway whistle was getting close the exciting young centre Joe Marchant took what looked like a forward pass to literally run into the posts and score. The pass was looked at and deemed to be ok, the try was awarded and Harlequins took the lead by a single point at half time.
Bristol were first to score in the second half after Ryan Edwards kicked forwards, the ball was fumbled by Tim Visser and Marchant and Edwards touched down to increase his teams’ score.
Another penalty, another arm routine for Quins saw them within a point of Bristols’ 19 points and another with 15 minutes remaining saw the score finish on Harlequins 21 Bristol 19. A win for Quins and a bonus point for Bristol along with a few new fans.
One low point in the game, a late, slightly dodgy tackle by Joe Marler on Gavin Henson saw him leave the game at half time, I am a big fan of his rugby skills and hope it’s not a long term injury, he’ll be part of any success for Bristol this season I’m sure.
Bristol will win more hearts this season as well as more points, look out Premiership Rugby – they’re back!