Thomas in­spires Bears to maul his old mates

The Rugby Paper - - Premiership Rugby Cup - By ROGER PANT­ING

DAN Thomas came back to haunt his for­mer club as Bris­tol beat their fierce ri­vals for the first time in more than a decade.

The Welsh flanker made 11 ap­pear­ances for Glouces­ter be­tween 201417 and his abil­ity to win pos­ses­sion at the break­down was a de­cid­ing fac­tor in a de­served Bris­tol vic­tory.

Glouces­ter’s academy coach Richard Whif­fin said: “Dan is a qual­ity player, he is good over the ball and came back to bite us. His ca­reer has kicked on at Bris­tol and I’m re­ally pleased for him.

“We were slow to re­act at the break­down and we didn’t fire a shot in the first half.”

Af­ter last week’s im­pres­sive win over a youth­ful Wasps, more of the same was ex­pected from Glouces­ter espe­cially as they fielded a stronger side with Henry Trinder, Owen Wil­liams and Tom Hud­son all re­turn­ing to their back divi­sion.

How­ever, their pack was bat­tered in the scrum and blown away at the break­but down with fre­quent han­dling er­rors com­plet­ing a mis­er­able night.

One sharp break from scrum-half Ben Vel­la­cott was their sole con­tri­bu­tion to the first half as their out-gunned for­wards failed to pro­vide any worth­while pos­ses­sion for their tal­ented back divi­sion.

Hence Bris­tol didn’t have to play par­tic­u­larly well to win. Thomas and Nick Hain­ing were their lead­ing lights up front but apart from Ryan Ed­wards, who pro­vided most of the night’s thrills, their backs lacked cre­ation.

Their mar­quee sign­ing, Charles Pi­u­tau came on for his first ap­pear­ance for the club but de­spite the huge ex­pec­ta­tion of the crowd, he failed to make any im­pres­sion.

Bris­tol con­trolled the first half but man­aged only one score, a con­verted try from Hain­ing af­ter Ed­wards had en­livened pro­ceed­ings with a 40m run.

Ed­wards had been hauled down by an ex­cel­lent tackle from Tom Seabrook but af­ter a suc­ces­sion of 5m scrums, at which the vis­i­tors were re­peat­edly pe­nalised, Hain­ing picked up to crash over.

Glouces­ter’s prob­lems in the scrum con­tin­ued and when an­other col­lapsed, for­mer Bris­tol and Scot­land prop, Kyle Traynor, was sin-binned.

Traynor re­turned with no ad­di­tion to the score in his ab­sence both sides lost a player through in­jury with hooker Tom Lind­say fail­ing a head as­sess­ment be­fore Vel­la­cott was helped off with a dam­aged knee.

Glouces­ter came back into con­tention with two penal­ties from Wil­liams be­fore the hosts re­sumed their set-piece dom­i­nance.

Thomas fin­ished off a driv­ing line-out be­fore Ed­wards in­ter­cepted to run 70 me­tres but was hauled down by a su­perb cover tackle from Ol­lie Thor­ley.

Aaron Hink­ley dived in to pre­vent Bris­tol cap­i­tal­is­ing and was yel­low carded be­fore Jake Heenan took ad­van­tage by crash­ing over from the next scrum.

There was just time for Glouces­ter to earn a scarcely de­served re­ward.

Thomas was sin-binned as his side re­peat­edly in­fringed and the vis­i­tors were able to pick up a penalty try when Henry Purdy was tack­led early by a sub­se­quently yel­low­carded Ed­wards as he chased a kick ahead from Dom Coet­zer.

Tri­umph: Nick Hain­ing crashes over for Bris­tol

Held: Bris­tol’s Charles Pi­u­tau is tack­led by Henry Trinder

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