GKIPAC Play-Off Final - 2nd Leg Preview25/05/2015
Worcester Warriors take a one-point lead into the second leg of
the Greene King IPA Championship play-off final after a first match
against Bristol that lived up to all the hype - and more -
with an eight-try spectacular keeping the capacity crowd at Ashton
Gate and Sky Sports' viewers enthralled until the very last
Chris Pennell's conversion of Niall Annett's late try saw Worcester return home up the M5 having pick-pocketed a 28-29 victory from the hosts; this means Bristol must do what they have never done before and win a Championship play-off match if they are to finally achieve their goal of winning promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.
Last Wednesday's defeat to Worcester was the fifth time Bristol have come unstuck at this stage of the competition after previous back-to-back losses against Exeter Chiefs and London Welsh in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
Despite his side snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at
Ashton Gate, Warriors boss Dean Ryan believes the one-point
advantage counts for nothing - other than acting as a confidence
"The result doesn't actually mean anything until Wednesday. It's on level terms effectively," he said.
"I'm pleased that we've got a bit of a psychological lift by the nature of winning it at the end, because they've beaten us in two tight games. But it's going to be a straight shootout and whoever wins next week will be in the Premiership."
Andy Robinson's side can take comfort from the fact they have
won at Sixways already this season, 30-26 in Round 22, as well as
prevailing by 23-19 on home turf on the opening day of the
"It's disappointing to lose by one point but we won at their place recently and that gives us a massive confidence boost," said Mitch Eadie, scorer of Bristol's first try at Ashton Gate.
The winning margin in the second leg of each of the last four finals has been nine points or less. Last year's was the closest of the lot, as Bristol went down 20-21 to London Welsh to lose 48-28 on aggregate.
With a combined total of nine points separating the sides across the three meetings this season all the indications are that another full-on, competitive battle awaits a sold-out Sixways. Worcester have a good track record in getting off to a fast start, scoring the first try in six of their last seven matches, and to do so again would put Bristol under real pressure.
However, Bristol are used to playing 'catch-up' rugby having conceded the first try in their last four outings. Not since in-form winger Charlie Amesbury scored the first of his two tries against Jersey on 17 April have Bristol crossed for the opening try.
- Extra-time protocol: if the teams are level at the end of normal time, the procedure is as follows: 2 x 10 minutes extra-time; (if still level) try-count across both legs, including extra-time; (if still level) kicking competition.
Championship play-off semi-finals (two legs)
Sat 2nd May 1.45pm - London Scottish vs Worcester (Richmond Athletic Ground) - 22-27
Sat 2nd May 1.30pm - Bristol vs Rotherham (Ashton Gate) (SS) 32-20
Fri 8th May 7.45pm - Worcester vs London Scottish (Sixways) 38-15 - Worcester win 65-37 on aggregate
Sun 10th May 1.45pm - Rotherham vs Bristol (Abbeydale, Sheffield) (SS) 16-24 - Bristol win 56-36 on aggregate
Championship play-off final (two legs)
Wed 20th May 7.45pm - Bristol v Worcester (Ashton Gate) (SS) 28-29
Wed 27th May 7.45pm - Worcester v Bristol (Sixways) (SS)
SS = live on Sky Sports