Bristol 25, London Welsh 21
LONDON Welsh’s hopes of finishing top of the table were dashed when they lost narrowly to leaders Bristol at the Memorial Ground last night.
From 22-0 down, Welsh staged a magnificent comeback to salvage a losing bonus point in one of the league’s games of the season.
The strong finish, in which they scored three converted tries, despite having flanker Richard Thorpe sent off, will give Exiles some confidence of turning the tables in the end-of-season play-offs.
Both clubs seem set to end in the top two and so avoidmeeting until the final, but Bristol will have gained a slight psychological edge.
After a dogged first half, in which the home side edged a 5-0 lead, they dominated early in the second half, only to be nearly caught by the Exiles.
The only try of the first 40 minutes came from Bristol winger George Watkins.
After the break, the hosts, who are now guaranteed to finish top, raced clear with a brace of tries from centre Ben Mosses and one from No 8 Mitch Eadie.
Fly half Nicky Robinson landed one conversion as the hosts raced out of sight.
Then came the Welsh fightback with replacement scrum half Chris Cook and Joe Ajuwa scoring tries, both converted by Alex Davies.
Welsh then had Thorpe red- carded for punching, an offence that led to Robinson kicking a penalty.
But Welsh still had the final say as Ajuwa scored his second try, again converted by Davies, to give them a losing bonus point.
Bristol: Slowik, Watkins, Tovey, Mosses (Hughes 79), Short, Robinson, Baldwin (Braley 79), Hall, Lawrence (McInally 79), Cortes (Hobson 74), Glynn, Sorenson (capt, Townson 80), Koster (Skirving 74), Mama, Eadie. Rep not used: A Jarvis.
London Welsh: L’Estrange (Tincknell 42), Stegmann, May (capt), Tonga’uiha, Ajuwa, Davies, Keats (Cook 52), Bristow (Trevett 41), Vella (Morris 68), Edwards (Griffiths 68) Spencer (West 64), Corker, Thorpe, Kirwan, Browne (Quill 68).
Referee: L Pearce.