- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, April 13th 2019
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 23-21 Saracens
Saturday, April 13th 2019
For the second time in five weeks, Ian Madigan held his nerve in stoppage time to steer Bristol Bears to memorable and dramatic victory, this time over reigning champions Saracens at Ashton Gate.
The Irishman stepped up to land an 80th-minute penalty as Pat Lam’s men withstood the onslaught from a star-studded Saracens bench to clinch a sensational win in front of nearly 15,000 supporters.
Tom Whitely’s try had given Saracens a one-point lead at the interval, before tries from Steven Luatua and Dan Thomas, either side of Marcelo Bosch’s score, fired Bristol into a 20-14 lead midway through the second-half.
Harry Thacker was sent to the sin-bin and replacement Ralph Adams-Hale crashed over 11 minutes from time to edge Saracens back in front in the closing stages.
But as it was at Franklin’s Gardens on March 9th, it was left to the trusty boot and composure of Madigan, to fire over the decisive penalty and send Ashton Gate into raptures.
A cagey opening quarter saw Alex Goode slide a penalty the wrong side of the posts, before Whitely marked his Premiership debut with a fine try after dazzling work from Max Malins in the build-up.
Callum Sheedy got Bristol on the board with a penalty after a high tackle on Chris Vui – and after seeing his second effort drift wide, the fly half was on target with his third to make it a one-point game at the break.
Kicking dominated the early exchanges of the second half, but after a sequence of back and forth, Mat Protheroe pulled the trigger on a scintillating counter attack, linking well with Alapati Leiua to send Luatua over for a breathtaking score.
Saracens emptied their heavily-capped bench on 53 minutes, and it had an immediate impact as Marcelo Bosch touched down at the tail of a driving lineout, with Goode’s conversion edging the visitors back in front.
But back came Bristol – and in some style. John Afoa racing on to Andy Uren’s flat pass and locating Dan Thomas for the hosts’ second, with Sheedy’s extras restoring the six-point lead while still down to 14 men,
Saracens began to turn the screw inside Bristol territory and Adams-Hale collected Ben Spencer’s pass to power over, with Goode’s conversion putting the champions back in front with 10 minutes left to play.
But with time ticking away, patient play from Bristol earned a penalty in front of the posts, and Madigan struck gold from 30 metres to earn a seventh league win of the season.
Teams and scorers:
Bristol Bears: Tries: Luatua 45, Thomas 64. Cons: Sheedy 45, 64. Pens: Sheedy 12, 39, Madigan 80. Yellow: Thacker 56.
Saracens: Tries: Whitely 9, Bosch 56, Adams-Hale 69. Cons: Goode 9, 56, 69
Bristol Bears: Protheroe; Pincus, O’Conor, Bedlow, Leiua; Sheedy (cc) (Madigan 67), Uren (Randall 66); Woolmore (Lay 56), Thacker, Afoa (Thiede 74), Holmes, Vui (Heenan 74), Luatua (cc), Thomas, Haining (Smith 57). Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Ja Lay, Thiede, Smith, Heenan, Randall, Madigan, Pisi.
Saracens: Goode, Maitland, Bosch, Tompkins, Lewington, Malins, Whitely; Barrington, Tolofua, Lamositele, Isiekwe, Skelton, Clark, Rhodes, Wray. Replacements: George, Adams-Hale, Koch, Itoje, Earl, B Vunipola, Spencer, Lozowski.
A no-brainer, really.
Ian Madigan is starting to make a habit of this, isn't he? Last month, it was Franklin's Gardens, this evening, it was Ashton Gate.
With the clock in the red, the Irishman stepped up to land a match-winning penalty and down the champions. Clutch.
Man of the match: Steven Luatua
This guy has been a giant for Bristol Bears this season - and tonight was no different.
Luatua capped an astounding individual display with a second-half try, while leading a sturdy defensive effort from the hosts, who repelled an Sarries onslaught before snatching victory.
Photo of the match:
Social media highlights:
- Luatua, Thomas
- Sheedy (2)
- Sheedy (2), Madigan
- Yellow Cards:
- Bosch, Whiteley, Adams-Hale
- Goode (3)
- Yellow Cards: