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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Monday, March 29th 2021

Champions Cup recap: road to Round of 16

Bristol Bears travel to France to take on Bordeaux-Begles in the Champions Cup Round of 16 on Sunday (3pm KO, live on BT Sport 2 HD) - here's a quick recap of our journey in the competition so far.


Bristol Bears 38-51 Clermont-Auvergne 

Bristol Bears battled back to claim a consolation bonus-point in a 12-try Heineken Champions Cup thriller at Ashton Gate in December.

Pat Lam’s men were outscored by seven tries to five in an action-packed, free-flowing encounter, as a hat trick from Kotaro Matsushima and a double from Damian Penaud led the French Top 14 side to a bonus-point victory.

Clermont stormed into a 21-0 lead inside the opening quarter, as Matsushima, Penaud and an interception from Apisai Naqalevu put the visitors in the driving seat early on.

The Bears hit back through Malins, before Matsushima’s second sealed the four-try bonus-point for Clermont.

Bryan Byrne’s try four minutes before time clawed the Bears back into it, but a Camille Lopez penalty restored Clermont’s 15-point lead at the interval.

Callum Sheedy and Lopez traded penalties early in the second half, before Harry Randall gave the hosts some hope with his side’s third try.

But a quick-fire Clermont treble put the game out of the Bears’ reach, as Penaud, Fritz Lee and Matsushima’s third took them through the 50-point barrier.

Lam’s side hit back with late tries from Ioan Lloyd and Siale Piutau to seal the bonus-point, leaving the Bears to rue a slow start in the winter sunshine.


Connacht 18-27 Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears opened their Heineken Champions Cup account with a commanding bonus-point victory over Connacht at the Galway Sports Ground.

Bryan Byrne’s try late in the first period had given Pat Lam’s side a narrow half time lead, but the Bears cut loose after the break, with tries from Ed Holmes, Piers O’Conor and Ioan Lloyd earning maximum points on the road.

Connacht crossed through Tiernan O’Hollaran and John Porch, while Jack Carty added five points, but it was the Bears who took the spoils to keep themselves well and truly alive in the competition.


Suspension and resumption

In January, it was announced by EPCR that the European Heineken Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup had been temporarily suspended following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the competitions constituted too great a public health risk.

Following in-depth discussions with its shareholder leagues and unions, EPCR later announced revised tournament formats, resuming with Rounds of 16 matches determined by a draw on March 9th. The draw pitted the Bears with Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles in a rematch of last season's thrilling Challenge Cup semi-final at Ashton Gate, which saw Pat Lam's men triumph in extra time before going on to lift the trophy. 

Sunday's Round of 16 clash promises to be another mouthwatering contest at Stade Chaban-Delmas.


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