- European Rugby Challenge Cup
- Friday, September 25th 2020
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 37-20 Bordeaux-Bègles (AET)
Friday, September 25th 2020
Bristol Bears scored twice in extra time to beat Bordeaux-Bègles and book a first ever European final on a pulsating night at Ashton Gate.
With the scores level at 20-20 at the end of normal time, Piers O’Conor and Max Malins crossed within three minutes of each other to fire the Bears to a memorable victory.
Earlier, Pat Lam’s men had battled back from 13-0 down, and survived Semi Radradra’s yellow card, to take a 20-13 lead thanks to Steven Luatua’s first-half try and Malins’ first of the night.
But Bordeaux’s Joseph Dweba crossed to level the scores 13 minutes from time and send a remarkable tie to extra time.
Replacement O’Conor’s first action was to step off his left foot and cruise in under the posts just two minutes into the additional period, before Malins put the tie to bed after a quite brilliant flick on from Radradra.
Sheedy’s third penalty of the evening completed a 17-point haul for the fly half, as the Bears set up a final showdown against either Toulon or Leicester Tigers.
A frenetic first half saw the outstanding Matthieu Jalibert to the fore, opening the scoring with a mesmerising try on 12 minutes and adding two penalties to give the French Top 14 side a commanding 13-0 lead on the half-hour mark.
The Bears hit back shortly before the interval, as Radradra drifted wide on the outside arc and fed Luatua to fire the Bears back into the tie.
Radradra saw yellow early in the second period for a high tackle, and Sheedy’s missed penalty drifted wide minutes later, but the hosts roared into the lead on 51 minutes with a little bit of magic from Harry Randall. The lively number nine’s stabbed kick with the outside of his right boot fell kindly for Malins, and the full back raced in under the posts to give Sheedy the simplest of conversions.
It was very nearly three straight from the restart, but Nathan Hughes’ try was disallowed for a double movement.
Harry Randall that is just magic 😍— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 25, 2020
With penalty advantage, the @BristolBears 9️⃣ threads a sublime grubber through the Bordeaux-Begles defense and Max Malins takes advantage!#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/EurS5k4XBu
Sheedy edged the hosts into a seven-point lead with two penalties, but Bordeaux hit back through Dweba, whose cutting line made it 20-20 and ensured this thrilling tie would continue.
But step forward Piers O’Conor, bouncing off his left foot to go under the posts and strike the first blow early in extra time.
The Bears had one foot in the final four minutes later, when Uren pounced on a loose ball and Radradra’s flick sent Malins in for a second.
Sheedy’s third penalty put the icing on the cake late on, as Bristol marched on to the club’s maiden European showpiece.
Teams and scorers
Bristol Bears: Tries: Luatua 38, Malins 51, 86 ET, O’Conor 82 ET. Cons: Sheedy 38, 51, 82, 86. Pens: Sheedy 58, 62, 97 ET. Yellow: Radradra 41
Bordeaux-Bègles: Tries: Jalibert 12, Dweba 67. Cons: Lucu 12, Botica 67. Pens: Jalibert 26, 29, Botica 64
The Bears made the perfect start to extra time, as first Piers O'Conor and then Max Malins fired them towards a maiden European final.
Malins' try capped a sensational night at Ashton Gate - and that man Radradra was key again.
Pat Lam reaction
🎥 "It shows how far we have come as a group. That extra time was a phenomenal effort."— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) September 25, 2020
Pat Lam delighted as team culture shines through 👇 pic.twitter.com/jpeebvVPEn
Man of the match: Max Malins
Two tries and another eye-catching display from the flying Max Malins.
The full back was a key cog in the Bears machine on Friday night, latching on to Randall's grubber kick for his first and rounding off another sensational attack to seal the deal late on.
"We stick to our system, you've got to get the balance right."— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 25, 2020
"We can't wait for the final!"
Man of the match Max Malins reflects on a magnificent semi-final win for @BristolBears!#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/3Rmb9sduGc
Social media reaction
What an incredible shift from these boys! Historic night for the 🐻s. One more to go! 🏆— Jon Lansdown (@JonLansdown) September 25, 2020
Delighted for all involved but absolutely gutted we couldn’t share this great game and occasion with our fantastic supporters.
I hope everyone enjoyed it wherever you caught the game. ❤️ https://t.co/BLVkim99C4
We like to keep you on your toes @BristolBears 😜😜🐻🐻🐻❤️❤️❤️— Callum Sheedy (@Sheedy95) September 25, 2020
Up the 🐻 Incredible achievement from the club. Doing it in style as always. Love to see it @BristolBears— Alex Davis (@ajldavis03) September 25, 2020
One step closer. 🐾 pic.twitter.com/LJhCNJN8iP— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) September 25, 2020
- Malins (2), Luatua, O'Conor
- Sheedy (4)
- Sheedy (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Jalibert, Dweba
- Lucu, Botica
- Jalibert (2)
- Yellow Cards: