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Report: North Bristol 24 Fairford 33

FAIRFORD produced a resolute away day display with a 33-24 victory at North Bristol on Saturday, which despite being far from a complete performance, illustrated the side’s strength in depth and the character within the club.

Flying winger James Wrona set the visitors on their way with an 11th minute finish, converted by Jake Summers after a combative start against a dogged North Bristol outfit – whose powerful scrum was a constant thorn in the side of the green and black pack.

The hosts reply came in the form of a well-worked try, breaking through after a series of sustained round the corner drives. With the score 7-7 approaching the half-hour mark, Fairford’s patience in possession paid off as scrum-half Ben Taylor broke clear with a neat finish and with Summers adding the extras, the 14-7 lead provided Fairford with a platform on which to build.

And build they did with a try of the highest order. Having collected the resulting kick-off deep in his own, flanker Robbie Dalgleish evaded countless tackles with a series of rangy side-steps and an off-load on the half-way line set the backs free and – orchestrated by influential fly-half Ben Cohoon – slick hands from debutant Jake Hancock and Summers carved the space for Wrona to glide home for his second of the day to make it 19-7.

Poor defensive shape allowed North Bristol another foothold in the encounter with a simple score to reduce the arrears at 19-12 going into the break, but a brace of changes at the break added considerable heft to the Fairford pack which steadied the Badgers’ ship.

A flowing move ten minutes into the second half saw neat hands from Wrona and Chris Tanner out wide release supporting flanker Adam Blizzard who crossed for an important converted try as the advantage extended to 26-12. A superbly executed backs move saw man of the match Mike Wrona thunder through three tackles from a set piece to stretch the lead to 33-12.

A brace of yellow cards for poor discipline in the tackle saw the visitors defend their lead with 13 men for the closing nine minutes and the home side needed no second invitation to put their foot on the gas. The numerical advantage contributed to both tries with a simple maul proving unstoppable to make it 33-19 on 76 minutes before a cross field kick complementing the numerical mismatch for a well-finished last-minute score to round off what had been a competitive encounter.

At the final whistle Fairford coach Danny Briggs reminded the players of how far they had come in such a short time – but set the squad a target of being in the top two at Christmas.

With a week off before games against leaders Old Cryptians (Saturday 7th December) and a trip to third-placed Old Elizabethans seven days later, he insists the club have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“After Saturday we sit at the top end of the table – it’s a position we have worked hard for but we must continue to train with the same intensity that we play games at. The coaching team are incredibly proud of all the players and with new faces arriving all of the time, competition for places remains high and the future is green and black.”

F/T: North Bristol 24 Fairford 33