- European Rugby Challenge Cup
- Saturday, December 7th 2019
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 37-11 Stade Français
Saturday, December 7th 2019
Bristol Bears took full control of Pool Four with a third successive bonus-point victory in the European Challenge Cup, as Toby Fricker’s late try sealed a maximum return for Pat Lam’s men against Stade Français.
Luke Morahan’s first-half score and two penalties from the boot of Ian Madigan cancelled out Lester Etien’s 19th-minute opener, as the hosts took a five-point lead into the half time break.
Madigan added a third penalty early in the second period, before Harry Thacker, Charles Piutau and replacement Fricker touched down in the final 15 minutes to complete a resounding home win for the Bears.
Madigan, on his first competitive appearance since September, finished with a 13-point haul from five successful kicks.
Bristol started on the front foot, but having spent the majority of the opening quarter inside the Stade 22, found themselves behind on 19 minutes, as wing Lester Etien finished strongly in the corner after the hosts coughed up possession just outside the 22.
A Madigan penalty narrowed the deficit on 24 minutes, before Bristol took the lead for the first time courtesy of the coolest of finishes from Luke Morahan. The wing reacted quickest to the loose ball after Steven Luatua had charged down Joris Segonds’ clearance, with Morahan kicking it up into his own hands to score under the posts.
Madigan converted and added his second penalty shortly after to give the hosts an eight-point lead, but Stade had the final say of the half through a Segonds penalty to make it a five-point game at the interval.
Madigan’s third successful penalty soon cancelled that out, while his opposite number saw his long-range effort drift wide shortly after.
Segonds made amends from an identical position on the hour mark to edge Stade back within striking distance.
But the Parisians were dealt a blow 15 minutes from time when Pierre-Henri Azagoh was yellow carded for pulling down a dominant Bears maul – and the hosts took full advantage as Thacker powered over from a 13-man shove.
Stade briefly threatened at the other end with Ryan Chapuis held up over the whitewash, but Charles Piutau collected Nic Stirzaker’s pass to power over from close range for try number three to all but seal the win for Bristol.
And the full back, who signed a new two-year contract at the club on Wednesday, turned provider as time ticked away, feeding Fricker for his third European try of the season with the final play of the game.
Ioan Lloyd landed the touchline conversion for good measure, and it was job done for Bristol, who remain top of the tree in Pool Four.
Teams and scorers:
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O’Conor, Bedlow (Fricket 78), Leiua; Madigan (Lloyd 69), Randall (Stirzaker 55); Woolmore (Jo Lay 77), Thacker, Afoa (N Thomas 40), Attwood, Vui (Holmes 62), Luatua (c), Heenan, Hughes.
Replacements: Capon, Lay, Thomas, Holmes, Hamilton, Stirzaker, Lloyd, Fricker.
Stade Francais: Lapegue, Naivalu, Mapoe, Arrate, Etien, Segonds, Hall; Mavinga, Da Silva, Melikidze, Pyle, De Giovanni (c), Chapuis, Koroi, Godener.
Replacements: Latu, Camara, Tagi, Gabrillagues, Azagoh, Daguin, Danty, Tui.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Morahan 27, Thacker 65, C Piutau 77, Fricker 80. Cons: Madigan 27, 65, Lloyd 77, 80. Pens: Madigan 24, 35, 46.
Stade Francais: Tries: Etien 19. Pens: Segonds 38, 57. Yellow: Azagoh 64.
After Stade had opened the scoring through Lester Etien, Bristol hit back immediately through an Ian Madigan penalty and masterful finish from Luke Morahan.
The wing reacted quickest to Steven Luatua charging down Joris Segond's clearance, before kicking the ball up into his own hands to cruise in under the sticks.
It was a quick-fire comeback from Pat Lam's men, who battled to a bonus-point win.
Pat Lam reaction:
Man of the match: Jake Woolmore
What a way to mark your birthday.
Jake Woolmore was at the top of his game against a huge Stade forward pack, taking control at scrum time to earn two penalties for his side, and thriving in the loose with some neat touches and strong carries.
Woolmore was also dominant in defence, with some solid hits throughout an industrious shift from the prop.
Photo of the match:
Social media highlights:
“I only follow this account for the victory song.” 😂— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) December 7, 2019
UP THE BEARS! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/uS7CbnaJYc
- Piutau, Morahan, Thacker, Fricker
- Madigan (2), Lloyd (2)
- Madigan (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Segonds (2)
- Yellow Cards: