Vase Winners 2012

Bristol Combination Vase Final Report
Old Bristolians 11
Southmead 9

By John White, Bristol Evening Post

OLD BRISTOLIANS lifted the Charles Saunders Combination Vase for the second time in three years, after battling past a tenacious and committed Southmead side at Cribbs Causeway. A first half try from centre Nick Reed plus two penalties from the boot of full-back Jack Price, was enough to see Bristolians across the finishing line in a tense and nervous final.

The Failand-based side is now two thirds of the way towards clinching an historic treble. Bristolians added the vase to the Gloucester Premier league title, and now set their sights on raising aloft the Renault Somerset Vase trophy. But, Old Bs were given an almighty scare by Southmead, who took the game to them up front and gave them torrid time at close quarters. Southmead aggressively threw numbers into the rucks and tackled with real venom, none more so than their No8 Archie Woodland, who was outstanding for his side. And Southmead gave the favourites real cause for concern, as they headed into the final quarter holding a 9-8 advantage.

But a moment of inspiration from star performer Price, turned the game back in Bristolians favour. Bristolians were awarded a penalty on the half way line, but instead of kicking for touch, Price tapped and kicked up field towards the unguarded posts. Southmeads Ryan Goodman won the race to the loose ball but was engulfed by a swarm of Bristolians chasers. Bristolians, from that point, set up camp in the Southmead 22, and were eventually awarded a penalty after the Southmead backs were adjudged to have crept off side.

Old Bristolians coach Rich Berry said: "We dogged this one out. Our plan was to stretch them and play with width, but apart from the early part of the game, we werent able to impose our game plan on them they made life extremely difficult for us."But eventually, we managed to keep the ball a bit better and were able to apply a bit of pressure. We thought the game was going to be tough, and it was. But Im delighted for this group of players, and everyone at the club."

Bristolians made a dream start with a second-minute penalty from Price. Bs extended their lead eight-minute later when Reed touched down on the right, after Bristolians had shifted the ball from right to left, then back to the right again for the centre to squeeze into the corner for an unconverted try.But the next half-hour belonged to Southmead, as they monopolised possession and clawed their way back into the contest. Two penalties from fly-half Rob Haddow made it 8-6 at the turnaround. Southmead continued to call the tune early in the second half, with Haddow booting a 54th minute penalty to nudge Southmead in front for the first time. But the league champions showed their pedigree to bounce back with Prices 75th minute winner.

Southmead coach Alan Sharp said: "I thought we gave a really good account of ourselves tonight. We knew they wanted to throw the ball about, so we tried to keep it tight and hold onto possession for long periods to dictate the pace of the game. "But we couldnt keep that level of intensity up, and we were a bit tired at the end. But I dont think I could have ask any more of the lads, they gave it everything - Im extremely proud of my team."