English Rugby: Bristol earn draw with Irish

London Irish 26 Bristol 26

London Irish 26 Bristol 26

Bristol salvaged a draw with a last minute penalty from Argentine fly-half Felipe Contepomi to take him past 100 league points this season after Barry Everitt looked to have secured victory for the Exiles with a simple penalty at the end of normal time.

London Irish were forced to make two late changes to their starting line-up after lock Steve Williams and loosehead prop Neal Hatley pulled out through flu although Hatley was named on the bench.

Rob Hardwick came in at tighthead prop and Steve Williams in the second row.

The visitors, who lost 30-26 to the Exiles in September, made just one change with David Rees returning from a hamstring injury replacing Luke Nabaro on the right wing who will miss the rest of the season following a knee operation.

London Irish, who have only lost once at home in the league when Leicester won 28-10 earlier this month, pinned Bristol back into their own half for much of the initial 15 minutes with fly-half Everitt landing two penalties for the Exiles and his opposite number Felipe Contepomi, on a rare visit to the opposition half, one for the visitors.

Everitt kicked two further penalties, both from 45 metres out, going into the second quarter to take the Irishman to 100 league points in just seven matches this season but then missed one on the half hour.

Bristol were reduced to 14 men when openside flanker Adam Vander was sent to the sin-bin for head-butting former England number eight Chris Sheasby.

Then Contepomi, the Argentine international, broke from his own half after taking an interception.

He raced away and when he tried to get the ball away to Rees, the only man up in support, but the wing was obstructed by centre Geoff Appleford and Contepomi kicked the penalty.

Bristol reduced the arrears further as Rees took a pass from Scotland A prop Paul Johnstone deep in his own half. The wing raced away down the right, side-stepped one player the chipped ahead. The btime in the game.

Then Bristol were down to 14 men for the second time in the game as former England lock Garath Archer was yellow carded for a punch as a scrum broke-up.

Everitt kicked another penalty to regain the lead before they scored their only try of the game as centre Jason Wright scored in the left corner but Everitt missed the conversion.

Bristol came back from a tap penalty as centre Jamie Mayer raced through which Contepomi converted to level the scores.

Then, with 80 minutes on the clock, Everitt attempted a long range kick from out wide. Bristol stopped the ball going over the bar but referee Robin Goodliffe judged that it was a deliberate knock-on.

Everitt made no mistake with the next attempt from in front of the posts to put the Exiles in front only for Contepomi to snatch a draw with a 45 metre penalty on the stroke of full time.

Man of the Match: Barry Everitt (London Irish)

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