- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, September 22nd 2018
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 20-13 Harlequins
Sunday, September 23rd 2018
A masterful kicking display from Ian Madigan led Bristol Bears to a second successive home triumph in the Gallagher Premiership, as they edged out Harlequins at a rain-soaked Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon.
Two first-half penalties from the Irishman’s right boot - either side of Piers O’Conor’s 35th-minute try – cancelled out Danny Care’s early opener, as Pat Lam’s side fought their way back from 10-0 down to lead 11-10 at the interval.
Paul Gustard’s side were forced to play nearly 30 minutes with just 14 men after seeing yellow on three separate occasions, as Ben Tapuai, Joe Marler and Paul Lasike were all sent to the sin-bin.
And it was Madigan who made them pay, landing a further three penalties after the break to finish with a 15-point haul and set Bristol Bears on their way to a valuable home win.
On a miserable afternoon in BS3, Danny Care sparked the game into life on eight minutes, stepping and sniping his way under the posts to give James Lang the simplest of conversions.
The young fly-half extended Quins’ lead seven minutes later with a well-struck penalty after George Smith had been penalised at the breakdown, as the visitors stormed into a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter.
Madigan got Bristol on the board with the first of his five penalties on 19 minutes – and the home side were soon boosted further, when Ben Tapuai was sin-binned for not rolling away.
Bristol Bears were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage but scored the game’s decisive try immediately after Tapuai’s return, as Harry Thacker’s break and Andy Uren’s pin-point pass, in testing conditions, sent O’Conor over in the left-hand corner.
And the turnaround was complete on the stroke of half-time, as Madigan knocked over his second penalty from under the posts to give the hosts a narrow lead at the break.
The first action of note in the second half saw Joe Marler sin-binned for leading with an elbow as he carried into Uren, and Madigan’s 40-metre penalty – followed by another just three minutes later – made it a seven-point game at Ashton Gate.
James Lang responded with a long-range effort of his own, but when Quins were penalised at the breakdown wide out on the right-hand touchline, Madigan saved his best until last to re-establish a seven-point buffer.
Quins pressed hard for the try that would level the scores but weren’t helped by Paul Lasike’s 78th-minute yellow card for a late shoulder charge on Madigan.
Eventually, it was a Marchant knock-on inside the Bristol 22 that brought an end to proceedings, as Bristol Bears made it two Gallagher Premiership wins from two at Ashton Gate.
Bristol Bears: O’Conor; Morahan (Kirchner 52), Hurrell, Piutau, Leiua; Madigan, Uren (Randall 72); Thomas (Woolmore 71), Thacker (Fenton-Wells 67), Afoa (Armstrong 71), Holmes, Vui (Joyce 62), Luatua (c), Smith, Crane (Lam 33). Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Woolmore, Armstrong, Joyce, Lam, Randall, Sheedy, Kirchner.
Harlequins: Morris, Earle, Marchant, Tapuai, Chisholm, Lang, Care; Marler, Crumpton, Sinckler, Symons, Glynn, Wallace, Robshaw (c), Chisholm. Replacements: Ward, Lambert, Swainston, South, Bothma, Mulchrone, Smith, Lasike.
In a rain-soaked contest with few clear openings, it was Bristol Bears' powerhouse hooker, Harry Thacker who came up with the decisive play for the home side.
Thacker collected a short pass to cut inside and scythe through the Harlequins defence before offloading to Ian Madigan.
Madigan was hauled down two metres short of the line, but Andy Uren's sublime long pass found O'Conor, and the full-back finished from close range shortly before half-time.
Man of the match: Ian Madigan
With the adverse weather conditions making handling difficult, Ian Madigan kept the scoreboard ticking over with a quite brilliant display of place kicking and game management.
The Irish fly-half struck five penalties to finish with a 15-point haul, with a missed conversion from O'Conor's 35th-minute try the only blemish on his record. Madigan also had a hand in the build-up to O'Conor's score, collecting Thacker's offload to charge towards the line.
But it was his right boot that proved the difference between the two sides, landing some testing long-range efforts to lead his side to an important home win.
Photo of the match:
Social media highlights:
- Madigan (5)
- Yellow Cards:
- Lang (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Tapuai, Marler, Lasike