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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Thursday, September 17th 2020

Preview: Dragons (h) - Challenge Cup quarter final

Bristol Bears welcome Dragons to Ashton Gate on Friday night in the quarter final of the European Challenge Cup (7.45pm KO, BT Sport 2 HD). 

Pat Lam's men were unbeaten in the pool stages with five wins and a draw, earning a second seeding for the knockout stages and a clash with Dean Ryan's Dragons in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Everything you need to know ahead of Friday's European Challenge Cup quarter final. 


Match details

  • Date: Friday, September 18th
  • Kick-off: 7.45pm
  • Competition: European Challenge Cup
  • Where: Ashton Gate
  • Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France) Assistants: Karl Dickson (England) & Ian Tempest (England) TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 2 HD

Team news

Bristol Bears face Dragons in the club’s first ever home European knockout fixture on Friday (7.45pm KO).

The two sides have met in the Challenge Cup twice previously with each club registering a home win in the pool stage of the 2006/07 campaign.

Bristol have lost just one of their last ten Challenge Cup games and are unbeaten in their last six in a row – the club’s best run in the competition.

Pat Lam makes 14 changes from the side that faced Wasps last weekend for the Anglo-Welsh Cup clash.

Bears include nine internationals in the starting line-up as Steven Luatua skippers the side from the back row.

Harry Randall returns from a laceration injury to be included among the 23-man squad on the replacements bench.

Bristol Bears team to face Dragons Rugby at Ashton Gate on Friday, September 18th (7.45pm KO):

15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Piers O’Conor, 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Ben Earl, 8. Nathan Hughes.

System players: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. John Afoa, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. Dan Thomas, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Max Malins, 23. Alapati Leiua.

Dragons:

15. Jordan Williams, 14. Jonah Holmes, 13. Nick Tompkins, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. Ashton Hewitt, 10. Sam Davies, 9. Rhodri Williams (c); 1. Brok Harris, 2. Elliot Dee, 3. Leon Brown, 4. Joe Davies, 5. Matthew Screech, 6. Aaron Wainwright, 7. Harrison Keddie, 8. Ross Moriarty

Replacements: 16. Richard Hibbard, 17. Josh Reynolds, 18. Lloyd Fairbrother, 19. Joe Maksymiw, 20. Taine Basham, 21. Luke Baldwin, 22. Josh Lewis, 23. Adam Warren


Last time out

Bristol 11-7 Dragons | October 27th, 2006 | Memorial Stadium

Jason Strange booted the Dragons to Challenge Cup defeat at the Memorial Stadium in Round Two of the 2006/07 European Challenge Cup.

The Welshman kicked a penalty in each half as the English Premiership leaders Bristol edged a scrappy and rugged match.

Bristol back-rower Dan Ward-Smith bagged the only try of the first half, but in-form Dragons winger Aled Brew cancelled it out after the break.

Ceri Sweeney's conversion cut the gap to one and - despite Strange's second kick - the Dragons left with what could be a crucial bonus point. 


Word from the camp

Pat Lam has urged his side to rise to the occasion when they take on Dragons in the last eight of the European Challenge Cup at Ashton Gate on Friday night.

The Bears enjoyed an unbeaten pool stage to earn home advantage and a second place seeding for the knockout stages – and the Director of Rugby says preparation for the Anglo-Welsh clash has been strong.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here. 


Form guide

Bristol Bears and the Dragons have met in the Challenge Cup twice previously. Each club registered a home win in the 2006/07 pool stage and both matches were decided by margins of fewer than seven points.

Bristol have played in four previous Challenge Cup quarter finals. They won their first match at this stage in 1999/2000 but have lost each of their last three.

The Dragons have a 100% win rate in Challenge Cup quarter finals, winning each of their three matches at this stage of the competition, including an away victory against Gallagher Premiership opposition the last time they reached the last eight (vs Gloucester in 2016).

Only Bordeaux (121) scored more second-half points in the pool stage this season than the Dragons (115), while Bristol (109) scored the third-most points in that period.

Bristol Bears: WWL
Dragons: LWL 


Head-to-head

Nathan Hughes vs Ross Moriarty

Blockbuster battle at the base of the scrum, as England international, Nathan Hughes faces off against dynamic Lions back row, Ross Moriarty.

Callum Sheedy vs Sam Davies

This is a mouthwatering head to head battle, as Callum Sheedy takes on Sam Davies at fly half in this Anglo-Welsh quarter final clash.


Statto's corner

  • Bristol Bears and the Dragons have met in the Challenge Cup twice previously with each club registering a home win in the pool stage of the 2006/07 campaign. Both matches were decided by margins of fewer than seven points
  • Bristol have played in four previous Challenge Cup quarter-finals, winning their first match at this stage back in 2000, but losing the following three
  • The Dragons have a 100% success rate in Challenge Cup quarter-finals, winning each of their three matches including an away victory against Gallagher Premiership opposition the last time they reached the last eight (v Gloucester in 2016)
  • Bristol have lost just one of their last 10 Challenge Cup games and are unbeaten in their last six in a row (W5, D1), their best run in the competition, however, their solitary defeat in that spell was in last season’s quarter-final (v La Rochelle)
  • Bristol have the best goalkicking success rate this season (94%), slotting each of their eight penalty goal attempts as well as 25 of 27 conversions
  • The Dragons’ Jordan Williams recorded the third highest tally for metres gained in a single match during the pool stage. He made 155 metres against Enisei-STM in Round 2 despite playing just 34 minutes

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