- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, December 1st 2018
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Bears 41-10 Leicester Tigers
Saturday, December 1st 2018
Harry Thacker followed up last weekend’s second-half hat-trick with a first-half double as Bristol Bears stormed to a scintillating bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
The dynamic hooker scored at the beginning and end of a frantic first period, either side of Kyle Eastmond’s sending off for a dangerous tackle on Ian Madigan.
And it was 14 against 14 for a short period when John Afoa was sin-binned for a no-arm tackle on Sione Kalamafoni.
Shortly before the red card, Manu Tuilagi crossed for a trademark score on 17 minutes, but three penalties from the boot of Ian Madigan – who finished with a 21-point haul – fired Pat Lam’s side into a 21-10 lead at the interval.
Luke Morahan, as he has done so many times this season, dazzled Ashton Gate with a sensational individual score on 46 minutes, leaving England wing Jonny May for dead to sprint in from 50 metres.
And scrum-half, Harry Randall joined the party four minutes later, catching Tigers napping with a quickly-taken penalty before evading Adam Thompstone with a fine step.
Two more Madigan penalties sealed the deal for a rampant Bristol, who recorded their biggest winning margin over Leicester Tigers for 121 years.
It took just 90 seconds for Bristol to open the scoring in front of more than 12,000 supporters at Ashton Gate. It was a try set up by power and brilliance of the returning Alapati Leiua, who collected Madigan’s inside pass before locating the supporting Thacker.
The former Tiger was back in the action minutes later, finding himself on the receiving end of a high tackle from Eastmond. This one was punished only by a penalty, which Madigan knocked over from the angle, but the Tigers centre wouldn’t be so lucky later in the half.
Manu Tuilagi tore an opening in the Bristol defence to claw Tigers back into the contest on 17 minutes, but the visitors were soon down to 14 men as referee Wayne Barnes – via a consulation with the TMO – gave Eastmond his marching orders for a dangerous tackle to the head of Madigan.
The Irish fly-half picked himself up to land the resulting long-range penalty, before Afoa was sent to the sin-bin to temporarily wipe out Bristol’s numerical advantage.
Ford and Madigan traded blows from the tee to restore the hosts’ six-point lead on the half-hour, but Luatua’s break sent Thacker in for his fifth try in 70 minutes of action since making his return from injury, to give Bristol another boost heading into the break.
Then came the game’s standout moment. After a pin-point Randall box kick, Leiua and Afoa combined to rip possession from Thompstone on half way – and when the ball reached Morahan, the Australian speedster left May grasping at thin air as he danced his way along the touchline for a memorable score.
Bristol weren’t finished there and sealed the bonus-point four minutes later courtesy of the impressive Randall. The former Gloucester number nine was quickest to react to a penalty on half way, and after beating the first line of defence, his right-foot step to beat the covering Thompstone completed a fine individual effort.
Two Madigan penalties stretched the lead to 31 points – and his own tally to 21 points – as Bristol turned the screw with 20 minutes left to play.
Shaun Malton thought he’d scored a fifth seven minutes from time, only to be called back for not releasing on the floor.
But it mattered not for Bristol Bears, who recorded a third Gallagher Premiership win of the season at Ashton Gate.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, Hurrell (O’Conor 59), S Piutau (cc) (Sheedy 70), Leiua, Madigan, Randall (Uren 53); Y Thomas (Woolmore 70), Thacker, Afoa (Thiede 63), Joyce (Holmes 57), Muldowney, Luatua, Smith (D Thomas 57), Crane (cc) (Malton 70).
Replacements: Malton, Woolmore, Thiede, Holmes, D Thomas, Uren, Sheedy, O'Conor.
Leicester Tigers: Holmes, Thompstone, Tuilagi, Eastmond, May, Ford (c), Youngs; Genge, Kerr, Cole, Spencer, Kitchener, Williams, O’Connor, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Polota-Nau, Gigena, Cortes, Wells, Fitzgerald, White, Toomua, Smith.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Thacker 2, 35, Morahan 46, Randall 50. Cons: Madigan 2, 46, 50. Pens: Madigan 10, 26, 32, 56, 58. Yellow: Afoa 28
Leicester Tigers: Tries: Tuilagi 17. Cons: Ford 17. Pens: Ford 29. Red: Eastmond 25
Harry Thacker's second try shortly before half-time gave Bristol Bears space to breathe against 14-man Leicester Tigers. But it was Luke Morahan's sensational individual score that had Ashton Gate on its feet and gave the home side a commanding lead early in the second half.
After a pin-point Randall box kick, Leiua and Afoa combined to rip possession from Thompstone on half way – and when the ball reached Morahan, the Australian speedster left May grasping at thin air as he danced his way along the touchline for a memorable score.
Man of the match: Harry Thacker
How do you follow a 33-minute hat-trick? With a 35-minute double, of course.
Harry Thacker put in a storming display against his former club at Ashton Gate, touching down in the second and 35th minute to give Bristol a 21-10 lead at the break.
The hooker was twice rewarded for his predatory support play, applying the finishing touches to breaks from Alapati Leiua and Steven Luatua.
Man on fire.
Photo of the match:
Social media posts of the day:
Images courtesy of JMPUK.
- Morahan, Randall, Thacker (2)
- Madigan (3)
- Madigan (5)
- Yellow Cards:
- Red Cards:
- Yellow Cards:
- Red Cards: