Bristol rocked by Worcester fightback
January 2, 2011
Former England fly-half Andy Goode played a key role in Worcester's stirring fightback against Bristol © Getty Images
Worcester Warriors stretched their lead at the top of the Championship to 12 points courtesy of a 42-23 victory over Bristol at the Memorial Ground on Sunday.
Bristol made a stirring start to the game, with Dan Montagu crossing just after the kick-off. Andy Goode replied in kind for the visitors only to see Bristol hit back through James Merriman to reach the end of the first quarter 20-7 ahead.
However, the Warriors then took control and they were level by half time thanks to a try from Alex Crockett. Goode put Worcester into the lead when he dotted again shortly after half time before further tries from Miles Benjamin and Pat Sanderson put the seal on a fine bonus point-clinching win for the league leaders.
Meanwhile, the second-placed Bedford Blues slumped to a surprise 23-13 defeat to the third-placed Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field. The visitors went into the game on a nine-match winning streak but they were second best for the majority of a fiercely-contested encounter. The Pirates were particularly dominant in an opening half hour in which they notched twice, through Wes Davies and Jonny Bentley.
James Pritchard, who accounted for all of Bedford's points, dragged his side back into the game with a converted try and a penalty before the break, but the Pirates reasserted their superiority and the goal-kicking of Rob Cook saw them home and boost their hopes of overhauling the Blues before the end of the regular season.
London Welsh remain hot on the heels of the Pirates, though, as they edged out Doncaster 21-19 in the most dramatic of circumstances to secure their place in the play-offs.
Tries from Josh Drauniniu and Paul Mackey had put Welsh in control but Doncaster dragged themselves right back into the game with a touchdown from Andy Wright and some deadly goal-kicking from Tristan Roberts. Ultimately, a penalty from former Doncaster fly-half Jamie Lennard proved decisive but that was only because Stephen McColl's last-gasp strike on goal from five metres inside his own half came back off the crossbar.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Birmingham & Solihull suffered yet another defeat, the basement boys going down 21-13 away to Esher. Elsewhere, Nottingham, who fielded New Zealand international lock Ali Williams for the first time, climbed to fifth on the back of an impressive 36-12 victory over Moseley and Plymouth Albion claimed a nail-biting 22-21 victory over the Rotherham Titans.
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