Jersey suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Bristol at Ashton Gate. A powerful display by the home side helped them to a 30-0 lead soon after half-time, and although the visitors were able to stem the tide, and score a brace of tries, they finished well-beaten.
Going into the game, Bristol were a team the Islanders have never beaten - Andy Robinson's side were top of the Greene King IPA Championship and favourites for promotion, while Jersey lay four places and 20 league points behind their opponents.
Playing into a strong wind, Jersey had the first opportunity to score points but Brendan Cope hit the post, and soon afterwards it was Bristol who went ahead with a kick by Adrian Jarvis.
Bristol had the chance to score the opening try when a rolling maul went up to and over Jersey's line, but the ball was held up after good work by Jersey prop Oli Tomaszczyk. Soon afterwards another rolling maul was repelled but then Bristol launched a series of forward drives and number 8 Mitch Eadie crossed. Jarvis converted the try (13-0), and from the restart a Jersey offside gave the fly-half another shot which he landed.
Jersey's defence managed to repel some attacks and a Jarvis grubber went just too far for Varndell. Bristol wanted another score to take their lead beyond 20 points, and got it on the back of a fine kick to the corner by Jarvis. Jersey's lineout didn't go to hand and prop Jack O'Connell had a relatively straightforward job of taking the ball at the back of the line and crashing over.
Jersey were looking for an early score after the resumption but in fact it was the home side who crossed; a turnover gave Bristol the ball and soon afterwards Eadie claimed another try.
There was no further score during the third quarter, during which time Jersey made a total of five replacements.
Fears that Jersey might fail to score for the first time ever in a Championship game were banished by Bristol old boy Fautua Otto when he chased onto a kick ahead and won the race with Adrian Jarvis to score the visitors' first try. Rory Jennings converted.
Bristol had a lengthy quest for their fourth try and a bonus point, but eventually they achieved their goal with replacement hooker Ross McMillan going over with around five minutes to play.
Jersey had the last word when Pierce Phillips crossed in the corner with the last play ; Jennings couldn't convert, making the second-half tally 14-12, but Bristol finished comfortable winners to consolidate their lead at the top of the table.
The weekend's results saw Jersey slip to seventh in the Championship table, with wins for Nottingham and Cornish Pirates seeing them move up by one place each to fifth and sixth.
Following this weekend's trip to the West of England, Jersey's next match is at St Peter when Moseley are the visitors this coming Saturday, February 6th (kick-off 3pm).
Bristol: Arscott; Varndell*, Tovey, Mosses, Lemi (c); Jarvis*, Cliff; O'Connell*, Jones*, Perenise*, Glynn*, Sorenson, Koster*, Lam, Eadie. * = replaced. Replacements (all used 60-80): McMillan, Traynor, Ford-Robinson, Phillips, Robinson, Roberts, Morgan.
Jersey: Adair; Howe, Otto, Cooke, Lane; Cope (Jennings 44), Fisilau (Moates 55); Lockwood (Lancuba 60), Selway (Garcia-Veiga 44), Tomaszczyk (Kerrod HT), Phillips (c), Rowlands, Freeman, Graham (Rae 37), Haining (Rae 8-12, Kolo'ofa'i 47).
Referee: Matt Carley (RFU)
Tries: Eadie 28, 41, O'Connell 39, McMillan 75
Conversions: Jarvis 28, 39, 41
Penalties: Jarvis 6, 19, 30
Tries: Otto 67, Phillips 80
Conversion: Jennings 67
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