Christopher Wilson at Oaklands, Bristol


The Bristol All Golds built on their good win over North Herts Crusaders with a high-scoring victory over Bedford Tigers. They crossed for ten tries but were pushed all the way by a Tigers side that was depleted on numbers but not on spirit.

The All Golds started slowly, conceding two early tries, but Callum Merrett scored the first of his hat-trick of tries and Brandon Lamb levelled matters midway through the half.

The Tigers had their share of the play but couldn’t break through and tries from Oliver Winterbottom and George Murray in the five minutes before the interval earned the All Golds a 22-12 lead.

Merrett scored twice in five minutes early in the second half to put the result almost beyond doubt, but Winterbottom’s second try was answered by a Bedford score. However, the last ten minutes of the game were marred by a serious injury to the Tigers’ full-back Scott Aspinall and two sin-bins that left them with ten men.

The All Golds crossed for three scores from Lamb, Henry Symons and Darrion Ball, who kicked four goals in the game, Merrett booted two and Owen Priest converted Ball’s try with the last kick of the game.


The Bristol All Golds built on their good win over North Herts Crusaders last week with a high-scoring victory over Bedford Tigers. They crossed for ten tries but were pushed all the way by a Tigers side that was depleted on numbers but not on spirit.

Scrum half Callum Merrett crossed for three tries and both Brandon Lamb and Ollie Winterbottom recorded a brace of touchdowns. George Murray, Henry Symons and Darrion Ball added tries with Ball adding four goals, Merrett two and Owen Priest one.

Unlike last week’s win over North Herts, the All Golds got off to a terrible start, conceding penalties in the Tigers’ opening two sets, allowing the visitors to put pressure on the home line very easily.

Had it not been for a superb try-saving tackle by Ed Tait, the Tigers would have been ahead before the All Golds had had the ball in their hands.

As it was, the Tigers dominated possession in the opening ten minutes, and despite some stiff resistance, raced to a two-score lead.

For the first, Dan Barber, who had been denied by Tait earlier, forced his way over for the try. The second came on their next set after Merrett’s restart caught the wind and went out on the full. This time Elliot Line chased a neat grubber kick through a static defence for an easy touchdown. Sam Richbell converted both tries and the Tigers led 12-0 with as many minutes on the watch.

The All Golds’ reply was not long in coming, however. Having forced an error, they won the scrum and Merrett sailed through a gap to score by the posts, adding the extra two points himself.

Finally, the All Golds began to click into gear and five minutes later, they were almost level.

A kick early in the tackle count was recovered and the ball swept wide, but Winterbottom fumbled the ball over the line and the chance went begging.

Midway through the half, the All Golds did make a chance stick. Earning a six-again, Brandon Lamb raced through a gaping hole in the Tigers’ defence to the posts, giving Merrett an easy goal.

From the restart Winterbottom made a superb break, which was carried on by Henry Symons, but the ball was dropped with the defence in tatters.

However, the Tigers regrouped and dominated possession for the next ten minutes, without being able to break the home defence who held up their opponents on more than one occasion. However, they lost loose forward Lewis Swindells to injury, depleting their resources further.

As the half drew to a close, the All Golds managed to gain some possession and ventured upfield. Giving the ball width, Winterbottom went over out wide. Greg Hamilton hit the post with the conversion, but the All Golds had the lead.

It was extended right on half-time as Murray simply refused to be tackled, beating five or six defenders before crashing over under the posts. Ball stepped up to add the extras to give the Bristol side a 22-12 lead at the interval.

After the interval, the All Golds started with a much better attitude. After an error from the restart, Lamb picked off an interception to give his side momentum.

After pressing the Tigers on their line, Merrett changed the direction of play after a sloppy play-the-ball and managed to touch down under the posts. Five minutes later, Merrett completed his hat-trick running round the edge of a tiring Tigers defence from halfway, to race untouched to the line.

Ball added both goals but was off-target ten minutes later, when Winterbottom coasted over for his second score.

This happened after play had restarted following a long stoppage caused by an accidental head injury to Tigers’ full-back Scott Aspinall who collided with Winterbottom’s knee in trying to make a tackle.

To their credit, the Tigers responded. After winning a goal-line drop-out, Rob Ashton exposed a retreating defence to score and cut the lead to 34-18.

However, the All Golds wrapped things up with three late tries.

Controversy reigned over the first as Lamb managed to wriggle out of a tackle and jog over the line. The Tigers felt he was tackled but the referee disagreed and allowed the score.

Jake Tilford and Callum Moon were sin-binned for their protests and, with their absence adding to the Tigers’ injury woes, there were only ten men on the field for the final few minutes.

The All Golds couldn’t help but take advantage.  First, Symons ran in from long range and then Ball dummied over for the All Golds’ tenth and final try, Owen Priest adding the goal with the final kick of an eventful game.

After a week’s break over the Bank Holiday, the All Golds travel to Brentwood on 11 May to face the Eels, looking to avenge their heavy defeat in the last game of last season.



ALL GOLDS: Oliver Winterbottom; Henry Symons, Darrion Ball, Dom Williams, Leon Atherton; Greg Hamilton, Callum Merrett; Ed Tait, Adam Turner, Chris Rees-Lloyd; George Murray, Brandon Lamb (Capt.); Jack Uren; INTERCHANGE: Owen Priest, Louis Birch, Oghenetaga Rume-Tabiowo, Ben Cripps.


Tries: Merrett (14, 43, 48), Lamb (21, 68), Winterbottom (36, 58), Murray (39), Symons (73), Ball (78).

Goals: Merrett 2 from 2, Hamilton 0 from 1, Ball 4 from 6, Priest 1 from 1.


TIGERS: Scott Aspinall, Elliot Line, Luke Wilson, Isa Mohammed, Dan Hooper, Rob Ashton (Capt.), Sam Richbell, Jake Tilford, Dan Barber, Callum Moon, Marc Adi, Lewis Swindells, Rory Town; INTERCHANGE: Ben Dennis, Dan Bell.



Tries: Barber (7), Line (10), Ashton (63)

Goals: Richbell 3 from 3.


Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-12, 6-12, 12-12, 16-12, 22-12, (HT), 28-12, 34-12, 34-18, 38-18, 42-18, 48-18, 54-18, (FT)


Penalties: All Golds 8-11 Tigers


Referee: Malcolm Holmes (RFL)


All Golds Player of the Match: Callum Merrett’s two tries in ten minutes after the break eased the All Golds out to a 22-point lead and they cantered to the win after that. Merrett had already opened the All Golds’ account earlier in the half and added two goals for good measure in a fine personal performance.