- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, August 15th 2020
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 16-12 Saracens
Saturday, August 15th 2020
A penalty try four minutes from time saw the Bears snatch a dramatic victory over Saracens, as the Gallagher Premiership returned to a rain-soaked Ashton Gate for the first time since March.
Alex Goode’s fourth penalty of the afternoon - cancelling out three from the boot of Callum Sheedy - had edged the visitors in front in the final quarter, after Luke Morahan saw his sensational long-range effort ruled out for obstruction.
But after Sheedy found a huge touch from a penalty on halfway, the Bears rumbled their way towards the whitewash, with Siale Piutau convinced he had scored. The TMO replays showed the Tongan centre in touch, but referee Carley spotted Jamie George’s cynical side entry and headed under the posts, with the England hooker shown a yellow card.
A tense finale followed as Saracens hammered away at the Bears’ line in search of the winning score – and despite Max Lahiff joining George in the sin bin, Pat Lam’s men held on to record a sixth successive league win.
Two penalties apiece were the only things to write home about from an error-strewn first half, as Sheedy and Goode traded blows from the kicking tee. After some early Saracens dominance saw the visitors take a six-point lead, the Bears began to find their feet, with Sheedy landing two from two to level the scores at the interval.
The second half started with a bang, as replacement Ben Earl, on for Nathan Hughes against his parent club, latched on to Harry Randall’s beautifully weighted kick to almost score with his very first touch. The back row was hauled down metres short, before Goode edged Saracens back in front at the other end of the field.
A penalty at scrum time then gave Sheedy the opportunity to level the scores, and the fly half duly obliged from in front of the posts for 9-9 score line.
Then, a major talking, point. Morahan collected Wigglesworth's long kick downfield and returned at pace, scything through the Saracens defence before wrongfooting Maitland to touch down for what appeared to be a stunning solo score. But it was not to be, as referee Carley adjudged Thacker to have blocked the chasing Itoje. It seemed harsh after a quite brilliant finish from the Wallaby.
And back came Saracens, with Goode’s penalty opening up a three-point lead in a dogged contest.
The visitors were now on top and only some valiant defending from the home side prevented the reigning champions from pulling further ahead.
But when the Bears were awarded a penalty just inside their own half, Sheedy came up with the game changing moment, driving his kick deep into Saracens territory and setting a perfect platform for the game’s decisive moment.
Piutau was convinced he’d dotted down inside the whitewash, but the end result proved even better for the hosts – a straight seven points and into the lead with minutes to play.
Uren’s spill inside his own 22 briefly caused some discomfort in the Bristol ranks, and when Lahiff saw yellow, it looked as if Saracens might snatch it.
But debutant Sinckler got the all-important touch at a last-gasp lineout, and the Bears held on for the grittiest of home wins.
Teams and scorers
Bristol Bears: C Piutau (Lloyd 67); Morahan, Radradra, S Piutau, Purdy; Sheedy; Randall (Uren 66); Woolmore (Lahiff 58), Byrne (Thacker 46), Afoa (Sinckler 46), Attwood (Holmes 57), Vui, Luatua (c), D Thomas, Hughes (Earl 40).
System players: Thacker, Lahiff, Sinckler, Holmes, Earl, Uren, Lloyd, Leiua.
Saracens: Maitland, Lewington, Morris, Socino, Segun, Goode, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Hunter-Hill, Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Mawi, Clarey, Kpoku, Reffell, Davies, Sloan, Obatoyinbo.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Penalty 76. Pens: Sheedy 21, 25, 49. Yellow: Lahiff 79
Saracens: Pens: Goode 8, 10, 45, 63. Yellow: George 76
Only one place to start - the winning try. Grunt and plenty of it earning the penalty try.
But let's talk about Callum Sheedy's touch finder. The number ten's beautifully judged kick ensured the lineout would be on the five-metre line and from there, power and determination from the Bears saw them snatch another late win.
Pat Lam reaction
🗣️"It was a game that was going to go down to the death.— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) August 15, 2020
"Everyone knows us for our attack but we want to get our defence right."
An impressive six on the spin for @BristolBears - Pat Lam shares his thoughts on a dramatic victory 💪#RugbyRestart pic.twitter.com/TzO2fvxmuV
Man of the match: Siale Piutau
An absolute rock in the Bears midfield, Piutau led by example with a dogged and determined defensive display to repel a powerful Saracens attacking lineup.
The former Tongan captain's leadership shone through as the Bears dug deep to earn sixth straight win in the Gallagher Premiership.
Social media highlights
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for 🙌— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) August 15, 2020
Some serious rigs in the mix this week 👏
UP THE BLOODY BEARS! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/I9kJWWFIAE
If I was doing player ratings today I would give @SPiutau an 11 out of 10.— John Evely (@JohnEvely_BPost) August 15, 2020
@SPiutau... thoroughly deserving of MOTM 🐻🐻🐻— Emmy Harris (@Emmyharris) August 15, 2020
☝️the🐻s https://t.co/P4OMsSBs5N— Jon Lansdown (@JonLansdown) August 15, 2020
Not pretty🌨🌧 but found a way to get over the line! Missed the @BristolBears 16th man but felt the energy from your sofas 😂🙌🏼 onto the next 🐻— Callum Sheedy (@Sheedy95) August 15, 2020
- Sheedy (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Goode (4)
- Yellow Cards: