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Report: Bristol Bears 26-18 South Africa XV

Bristol Bears recorded a historic victory over South Africa XV in front of a record crowd at Ashton Gate.

Tries from Gabriel Ibitoye and Yann Thomas sealed a memorable win for Pat Lam’s men in front of 26,387 supporters, while the flawless boot of Callum Sheedy added 16 points from the tee.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring through the boot of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu – and when Jason Jenkins was sin binned for a high shot on Fitz Harding, Sheedy levelled things up with a simple penalty.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu edged the South Africans back in front before a powerful burst from the outstanding Joe Batley gave Sheedy the platform to make it all square once again.

Then came the game’s opening try – Luke Morahan with the burst and offload inside to the supporting Gabriel Ibitoye, whose maiden try in Bears colours raised the roof at an electric Ashton Gate.

Ntuthuko Mchunu powered over from close range to claw the visitors back within striking range, but Sheedy’s monster penalty – his third of the evening – edged the Bears into a five-point lead at 16-11.

When Feinberg-Mngomezulu missed touch from an attempted clearance, Morahan and Ibitoye combined to dent holes in the South African defence, and after some close-quarter skirmishes, Yann Thomas emerged from the melee with his side’s second try of the evening.

Sheedy converted before replacement Sikhumbuzo Notshe pounced on a loose ball to give South Africa XV a sniff late on.

But a penalty at scrum time sealed the deal for the Bears as they held on for a memorable win on home soil.

Bristol Bears: Tries: Ibitoye 32, Y. Thomas 59. Cons: Sheedy 32, 59. Pens: Sheedy 16, 25, 51, 67

South Africa XV: Tries: Mchunu 48, Notshe 78 Cons: Feinberg-Mngomezulu 78. Pens: Feinberg-Mngomezulu 3, 19

Bristol Bears: 15. Luke Morahan, 14. Deago Bailey, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Gabriel Ibitoye, 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Will Porter; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Bryan Byrne, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Joe Joyce (c), 5. Joe Batley, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Jake Heenan, 8. Fitz Harding.

System players: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Jonathan Benz-Salomon, 19. John Hawkins, 20. Sam Lewis, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Joe Jenkins, 23. Rich Lane.

South Africa XV: 15. Gianni Lombard (Emirates Lions), 14. Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL Stormers), 13. Henco van Wyk (Emirates Lions), 12. Cornal Hendricks* (Vodacom Bulls), 11. Leolin Zas (DHL Stormers), 10. Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers), 9. Grant Williams* (Cell C Sharks); 1. Ntuthuko Mchunu* (Cell C Sharks), 2. Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Stormers), 3 . Thomas du Toit* (captain, Cell C Sharks), 4. Jason Jenkins* (Leinster), 5. Ruan Nortje* (Vodacom Bulls), 6 . Marco van Staden* (Vodacom Bulls), 7. Elrigh Louw* (Vodacom Bulls), 8 . Jean-Luc du Preez* (Sale Sharks)

Replacements: 16. JJ Kotze (DHL Stormers), 17. Simphiwe Matanzima (Vodacom Bulls), 18. Mornay Smith (Vodacom Bulls), 19. Dan du Preez* (Sale Sharks), 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe* (Cell C Sharks), 21. Phepsi Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks), 22. Sanele Nohamba (Emirates Lions), 23. Johan Goosen* (Vodacom Bulls)


Pat Lam reaction


Pick of the Match: Joe Batley


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