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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Saturday, October 3rd 2020

Preview: London Irish (a) - Gallagher Premiership

Bristol Bears travel to The Stoop to take on London Irish in the final round of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season (3pm KO, live on BT Sport 3). 

Pat Lam's men are targeting a top-four spot as the season reaches a thrilling finale, with the Bears needing a victory, and other results to go their way, on the final day.

London Irish head into the game off the back of a memorable win against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in round 21. 

Everything you need to know ahead of Sunday's Gallagher Premiership clash withLondon Irish at The Stoop.


Match details

  • Date: Sunday, October 4th
  • Kick-off: 3pm
  • Competition: Gallagher Premiership
  • Where: The Stoop
  • Referee: Karl Dickson (32nd Premiership game). Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Simon Harding. TMO: Nigel Carrick. Citing Officer: Paul Hull
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 3 HD

Team news

Bristol Bears travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday knowing victory could secure a place in the Premiership semi-finals (3pm KO).

Director of Rugby Pat Lam makes twelve changes for the crunch clash versus London Irish as Bristol, who have already equalled their previous best ever Premiership points tally of 64 with a game to spare, set their sights on the top four.

Siale Piutau is appointed captain, while Max Malins and Harry Randall return as the half-back partnership.

In the pack, Chris Vui moves to the back row alongside Jake Heenan and Ben Earl, while John Afoa comes into the front row.

Lam includes Mitch Eadie among the replacements, while highly-rated Integrated Academy back rower Fitz Harding could make his debut from the bench. 

Bristol Bears team to face London Irish at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, October 4th (3pm KO):

15. Ioan Lloyd; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Siale Piutau (c), 11. Piers O’Conor; 10. Max Malins, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Chris Vui, 7. Jake Heenan, 8. Ben Earl.

System players: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Mitch Eadie, 20. Fitz Harding, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Sam Bedlow.

London Irish:

15. Tom Homer, 14. Ben Loader, 13. Curtis Rona, 12. Phil Cokanasiga, 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Nick Phipps; 1. Allan Dell, 2. Agustin Creevy, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. George Nott, 5. Chunya Munga, 6. Matt Rogerson (c), 7. Jack Cooke, 8. Albert Tuisue.

Replacements: 16. Matt Cornish, 17. Harry Elrington, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Sebastian de Chaves, 20. Ben Donnell, 21. Ben Meehan, 22. Theo Brophy Clews, 23. James Stokes


Matchday programme


Last time out

Bristol Bears 27-27 London Irish | Sunday, December 1st, 2019 | Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears and London Irish couldn’t be separated in a thrilling Gallagher Premiership clash at Ashton Gate, as Stephen Myler’s 79th-minute penalty snatched a last-gasp draw.

Harry Thacker’s bonus-point try three minutes from time looked to have earned victory for Bristol against an Exiles side who had seen Ollie Hoskins red carded just before half time.

Despite the sending off, for a dangerous clear out on Chris Vui, Irish led 7-3 at the break thanks to Ben Meehan’s try on 34 minutes.

But Bristol hit their stride after the break and took the lead through Nathan Hughes, before Myler’s penalty edged Irish back in front.

In a harum-scarum final half an hour, Charles Piutau rounded off a sensational Bears attack to open up a five-point, before Waisake Naholo picked off Sheedy’s pass to race in and regain Irish’s lead.

It didn’t last long, as Thacker powered through the middle before Ed Holmes shook off four tacklers and drove down the touchline for an incredible solo score.

John Afoa was sent to the sin bin, and Irish looked to have sealed the win when Tom Parton dotted down in the corner, with Myler adding the touchline conversion.

Thacker scored Bristol’s fourth two minutes from time, but when the restart fell into the visitors’ hands, referee Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty at the breakdown and Myler held his nerve to level the scores.

Read the report.


Word from the camp

Pat Lam says the Bears are under no illusions about the challenge they face on Sunday, as they head to The Stoop to take on London Irish with a place in the Gallagher Premiership play-offs up for grabs.

The Bears sit fifth in the table after 21 games, level on points with fourth place Sale Sharks and knowing a victory could see them earn a top-four finish on the final day of the 2019/20 season.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.  


Form guide

London Irish’s nine game losing run ended with their 22-19 victory at Exeter on Wednesday. The Exiles have won just once at home in any competition since November: 24-20 against Gloucester in Gallagher Premiership Rugby in February.

Bristol Bears only reversal in their last six first team games was 35-59 against Wasps at Ricoh Arena on 13 September. Bristol have won just one of their last three away games, at Worcester in round 18.

The two clubs drew 27-all at Ashton Gate in December, their first tied fixture since 2002. Bristol’s most recent victory at Twickenham Stoop was 17-3 against Harlequins in the European Cup in December 2007. The Bears have faced The Exiles at The Stoop just once before, going down 21-35 in December 1999.

Bristol Bears: WWW
London Irish: WLL 


Head-to-head

Chris Vui vs Matt Rogerson

Samoan powerhouse, Vui moves from the second row to the back row for Sunday's clash, where he will take on London Irish captain, Matt Rogerson at blindside.

Max Malins vs Paddy Jackson

An eyecatching match-up at fly half, where Max Malins, who moves into number ten from full back, takes on Ireland international Paddy Jackson.


Statto's corner

  • Bristol Bears did to win and hope one of Sale Sharks, Bath or Wasps do not if they are to earn a place in the end of season play offs
  • One point will mean Bristol earn a record number of Premiership league points in a single season
  • Ben Earl (10) is still in the running for the league's leading try scorer award - one behind Gloucester's Ollie Thorley

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