- Gallagher Premiership
- Sunday, December 1st 2019
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 27-27 London Irish
Sunday, December 1st 2019
Bristol Bears and London Irish couldn’t be separated in a thrilling Gallagher Premiership clash at Ashton Gate, as Stephen Myler’s 79th-minute penalty snatched a last-gasp draw.
Harry Thacker’s bonus-point try three minutes from time looked to have earned victory for Bristol against an Exiles side who had seen Ollie Hoskins red carded just before half time.
Despite the sending off, for a dangerous clear out on Chris Vui, Irish led 7-3 at the break thanks to Ben Meehan’s try on 34 minutes.
But Bristol hit their stride after the break and took the lead through Nathan Hughes, before Myler’s penalty edged Irish back in front.
In a harum-scarum final half an hour, Charles Piutau rounded off a sensational Bears attack to open up a five-point, before Waisake Naholo picked off Sheedy’s pass to race in and regain Irish’s lead.
It didn’t last long, as Thacker powered through the middle before Ed Holmes shook off four tacklers and drove down the touchline for an incredible solo score.
John Afoa was sent to the sin bin, and Irish looked to have sealed the win when Tom Parton dotted down in the corner, with Myler adding the touchline conversion.
Thacker scored Bristol’s fourth two minutes from time, but when the restart fell into the visitors’ hands, referee Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty at the breakdown and Myler held his nerve to level the scores.
It took 25 minutes for the first points in BS3, as Sheedy landed a simple penalty after missing an earlier one from a tougher position.
But it was Irish who grabbed the game’s first try, with Hepetema getting his hands through the tackle to send Meehan in the left-hand corner.
Myler converted, but the Exiles were dealt a blow on the stroke of half time when Ollie Hoskins was shown a red card for a shoulder to the head of Chris Vui when clearing out a ruck.
Still, the Irish took a four-point lead into half time, but that quickly changed hands after the interval, when Morahan’s initial break led to Thacker picking out Hughes for Bristol’s first try of the afternoon.
In a game that saw the lead change hands eight times, Myler’s penalty edged Irish back in front after Vui was penalised for not rolling away.
Back came Bristol again, with a trademark sizzling long-range effort, started by Fricker and finished by the outstanding Charles Piutau.
Adam Coleman knocked on inches from the line as Irish responded at the other end, but after surviving that let off, Naholo juggled an interception before racing clear and the away side led 15-17.
Four minutes later, Bristol had their third when replacement Holmes turned on the after burners to power down the touchline for his second try in successive weeks.
As time ticked away, John Afoa was yellow carded, and Irish took full advantage of the now 14 v 14 contest with a try in the corner from Tom Parton.
That looked to have decided it, but another sweeping Bears attack culminated in Thacker scorching over from 30 metres, with Lloyd’s conversion making it a three-point game late on.
But when Bristol were penalised from the resulting restart, it was left to Myler to land the crucial kick and ensure a share of the spoils.
Teams and scorers:
Bristol Bears: Tries: Hughes 45, C Piutau 56, Holmes 67, Thacker 77. Cons: Sheedy 56, Lloyd 77. Pens: Sheedy 26. Yellow: Afoa 73.
London Irish: Tries: Meehan 34, Naholo 64, Parton 75. Cons: Myler 34, 64, 75. Pens: Myler 48, Myler 79. Red: Hoskins 39
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O’Conor, S Piutau (Leiua 65), Fricker; Sheedy (Lloyd 64), Uren (Randall 54); Woolmore, Thacker, Afoa, Joyce, Vui, Luatua (c), D Thomas (Hamilton 12, Hughes (Holmes 64).
Replacements: Capon, Y Thomas, Lahiff, Holmes, Hamilton, Randall, Lloyd, Leiua.
London Irish: Jackson, Naholo, Stephenson, Hepetema, Rona, Myler, Meehan; Hobbs-Awoyemi, Fainga’a, Hoskins, Botha, van der Merwe (c), Rogerson (Chawatama 43), Cowan, Tuisue.
Replacements: Matu’u, Elrington, Chawatama, Coleman, Mafi, Ioane, Phipps, Parton.
Charles Piutau rounded off a sweeping attack to fire Bristol into a 15-10 lead, but Irish hit back with the game's key moment.
With the ball moved right to left, the hosts looked to have worked an opening with numbers over, but Naholo was quick to recognise this, jumping out and juggling the interception before regaining control and waltzing in from 60 metres to shift the momentum once again.
Pat Lam reaction:
Man of the match: Charles Piutau
This was a scintillating display from the All Black flyer, who racked up more than 200 running metres and also beat 12 defenders.
A 70-metre break kicked off a man of the match display, and Piutau also crossed for a try to cap a sublime display from the full back.
Photo of the match:
Social media highlights:
Charles Piutau‘s MOTM performance v London Irish 📊— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) December 1, 2019
2️⃣5️⃣ Carries 🏃
1️⃣2️⃣ Defenders beaten 🕺
0️⃣2️⃣ Clean breaks ⚡️
0️⃣1️⃣ Try 🏉
2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣ Running metres 🤯 pic.twitter.com/FUgcUevzxa
FULL TIME:— RugbyInsideLine (@RugbyInsideLine) December 1, 2019
Bristol 27-27 Irish
WHAT. A. GAME. (well, second half...)
- Piutau, Thacker, Hughes, Holmes
- Sheedy, Lloyd
- Yellow Cards:
- Red Cards:
- Naholo, Meehan, Parton
- Myler (3)
- Myler (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Red Cards: