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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Saturday, December 3rd 2022

Report: Bristol Bears 26-26 Leicester Tigers

AJ MacGinty saw his last-gasp penalty come up agonisingly short as Bristol Bears fought back to earn a draw from an enthralling clash with Leicester Tigers at Ashton Gate.

Pat Lam’s side scored four tries courtesy of the returning Semi Radradra, Charles Piutau, Bryan Byrne and the outstanding Gabriel Ibitoye – and when man of the match Ibitoye’s late score was converted by AJ MacGinty, the Bears had clawed their way back from 12-26 down to level the scores.

There was still time for more drama when the home side were awarded a penalty with the final play, but MacGinty’s kick was off target and the Bears were forced to settle for three points.

It was three points that had looked unlikely midway through the second period when Freddie Burns’ third successful penalty of the night – added to first-half tries from Dan Kelly, Chris Ashton and Julian Montoya – had opened up a 14-point lead for the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions.

But after Radradra had marked his return with a close-range try - before being yellow carded midway through the first half - and Piutau had applied the finishing touches to a delightful Bears attack during an end-to-end first half, Bryan Byrne rumbled over from a well-worked driving lineout to drag the Bears to within striking distance.

After the try had been awarded, replacement Tigers' prop Francois van Wyk was shown a red card by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys for a dangerous tackle on Genge and all of a sudden, the Bears were back in the hunt. 

And the all-important strike came four minutes from time – Genge rumbled his way through Harry Potter to set the home side on their way and Ibitoye stepped inside to cap a fine display with his first Premiership try for the club.

MacGinty added the extras but when his 81st-minute penalty dipped the wrong side of the crossbar, it was left with honours even at The Gate.

Bristol Bears: Tries: Radradra 6, Piutau 26, Byrne 66, Ibitoye 76. Cons: Sheedy 26, 66, MacGinty 76. Yellow: Radradra 29

Leicester Tigers: Tries: Kelly 30, Ashton 36, Montoya 39. Cons: Burns 39. Pens: Burns 16, 22, 62. Red: van Wyk 66

Bristol Bears: Piutau, Bailey, Radradra, O’Conor, Ibitoye, Sheedy; Porter; Genge, Byrne, Lahiff, Batley, Vui, Luatua (c), Lewis, Heenan.

Replacements: Thacker, Woolmore, Tyack, Hawkins, Thomas, Uren, MacGinty, Jenkins

Steward, Ashton, Porter, Kelly, Watson, Burns, Youngs; Whitcombe, Montoya, Cole, Wells, Chessum, Liebenberg (c), Reffell, Wiese

Replacements: Clare, van Wyk, Heyes, Snyman, Martin, van Poortvliet, Atkinson,


Pat Lam reaction

Pick of the Match: Gabriel Ibitoye


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