- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, September 29th 2018
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 40-45 Northampton Saints
Saturday, September 29th 2018
A late fightback from Bristol Bears saw them earn two bonus-points from a scintillating Gallagher Premiership clash, but it wasn’t enough to take the spoils as Northampton Saints edged an 11-try thriller at Ashton Gate.
Pat Lam’s side scored five times in the glorious Autumn sunshine – two in the final ten minutes to seal their consolation points – but conceded six, as Saints hammered home a 20-24 half-time advantage to lead 30-45 with 15 minutes remaining.
Will Hurrell powered over for the second of an impressive brace on 70 minutes – Bristol's fourth - before turning provider for Alapati Leiua, whose fourth try of the season brought the hosts within seven of Saints and secured a second bonus-point.
Harry Thacker was also on the score sheet for Bristol, while Callum Sheedy was immaculate from the kicking tee to finish with a 16-point haul.
This September try-fest was kick-started by a Dan Biggar penalty, but the first five-pointer of the afternoon wasn’t long in coming, as Hurrell faded outside Francis before fending off the centre to slide over on eight minutes.
Saints looked to have responded almost straight from the kick off, as Reinach and Biggar combined to send Burrell in under the posts, but after consulting the TMO, referee Luke Pearced chalked it off for a forward pass in the build-up.
They weren’t to be denied five minutes later, as Painter barged over from close range and Biggar added the extras.
The Welsh fly-half repeated the feat shortly after, converting Andrew Kellaway’s maiden Saints try after Collins’ dazzling break had Bristol on the back foot.
The first of four penalties from the boot of Sheedy reduced the deficit, before Jack Lam was sent to the sin-bin on the half-hour mark for pulling down a maul inside the 22.
But the numerical disadvantage didn’t halt Bristol Bears’ charge, as sneaky work from John Afoa sent Harry Thacker under the posts.
It was then Bristol’s turn to have a try ruled out - Andy Uren appearing not to be held, regained his footing to touch down, only for referee Pearce to consult the TMO and disallow the scrum half’s effort.
In a 14-point swing, Saints headed straight down the other end to score their third try courtesy of Lewis Ludlam, while Sheedy’s 39th-minute penalty made it a four-point game at the interval.
Pat Lam’s men were slow out of the blocks as the second-half got under way and paid full price when Naiyaravoro shook off two tacklers to dot down in the corner.
But Bristol Bears hit back with arguably the try of the match, as Sheedy’s pinpoint cross-field kick was beautifully gathered by O’Conor and full-back’s flicked offload located a flying Morahan.
Sheedy converted and then added a penalty to bring Bristol within a single point, but in a sensational game of back and forth, Saints responded through Alex Waller’s close-range effort.
Mikey Haywood then caught Bristol napping around the fringes to take Saints seemingly out of sight, but Hurrell ensured the hosts wouldn’t leave empty-handed with his second and the hosts’ fourth ten minutes from time.
And one bonus point quickly became two, as Hurrell went from scorer to provider to send Leiua in the left-hand corner.
But that was to be the final action of a fascinating afternoon at Ashton Gate, as Bristol Bears fell to a first home defeat of the season.
Bristol Bears: O’Conor; Morahan, Hurrell, Piutau, Leiua; Sheedy (Pisi 67), Uren (Strizaker 65); Thomas (Woolmore 65), Thacker (Fenton-Wells 68), Afoa, Holmes, Latta (Joyce 54), Luatua (c), Smith, Lam (Haining 62). Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Woolmore, Armstrong, Joyce, Haining, Stirzaker, Pisi, Kirchner.
Northampton Saints: Tuala; Collins, Burrell, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Biggar, Reinach; Waller (co-capt), Hartley (co-capt), Painter, Ribbans, Lawes, Gibson, Ludlam, Harrison. Replacements: Haywood, Van Wyk, Franks, Ratuniyarawa, Eadie, Mitchell, Kellaway, Mallinder.
Tries: Hurrell 8, 68 Thacker 32, Morahan 48, Leiua 80. Cons: Sheedy 8, 32. Pens: Sheedy 26, 39, 48, 55. Yellow: Lam 29
Tries: Painter 15, Kellaway 22, Ludlam 37, Naiyaravoro 45, Waller 60, Haywood 65. Cons: Biggar 15, 22, 37, 45, 60, Mallinder 65. Pens: Biggar 6
Just minutes after Harry Thacker had got Bristol Bears back into the game, Andy Uren looked to have followed it up with his side's third try five minutes before the break.
But having initially given the try, referee Luke Pearce consulted the TMO and after a long delay and discussion, ruled the try out having adjudged Uren held in the tackle.
And minutes later, Saints completed a 14-point swing with a try through Lewis Ludlam in a decisive five-minute period before half time.
Man of the match: Will Hurrell
Two tries for the Hurrell-cane in a barnstorming display in the Bristol Bears midfield.
Hurrell was outstanding throughout the 80 minutes, crossing once in either half and providing the assist for Alapati Leiua's last-gasp try.
The centre fended off Piers Francis to score on eight minutes, before collecting Morahan's offload to squeeze in the corner on 70 minutes. And Hurrell wasn't finished there, with another storming carry taking play inside the Saints 22, and minutes later, his wide pass setting up Leiua to seal a second bonus-point.
Photo of the match:
Social media posts of the day:
- Morahan, Hurrell (2), Leiua, Thacker
- Sheedy (3)
- Sheedy (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Naiyaravoro, Waller, Painter, Ludlam, Haywood, Kellaway
- Biggar (5), Mallinder
- Yellow Cards: