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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Sunday, October 6th 2019

Report: Bristol Bears 44-27 London Irish

Mat Protheroe scored twice in three minutes as Bristol Bears made it back-to-back wins in the Premiership Cup with a bonus-point victory over London Irish at Ashton Gate.

The full back’s quick-fire double, including a quite sensational second, came in the final four minutes, as Pat Lam’s men shook off a slow start to run in five tries in an entertaining clash.

Caolan Englefield’s 20th-minute try edged Irish in front midway through the first-half, but Bristol soon took advantage of a yellow card to Ruan Botha, as Harry Thacker and first try for Nathan Hughes made it 17-8 at the break.

Andy Uren touched down to extend that lead early in the second half, before a Ben Loader brace closed the gap to five points on the hour mark.

A third penalty from the faultless boot of Tiff Eden, who finished with a 19-point haul, gave Bristol some breathing space, while Protheroe sealed the deal with an impressive double in the closing stages.

Jack Cooke earned Irish a bonus-point with a breakaway try on 80 minutes, but it was mere consolation for the visitors, as Bristol made it two wins from two at Ashton Gate.


What happened?

Irish were on the board inside the first minute, as Stephen Myler landed the simplest of penalties after a Bristol error from the kick off.

Tiff Eden levelled things up from 30 metres, before Englefield collected Matt Williams’ deft offload to go over in the corner.

Irish second row, Botha then saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on in midfield, with Bristol capitalising on the numerical advantage to strike twice.

Harry Thacker goes over for Bristol's first try (JMPUK).

First Thacker darted over from a beautifully executed lineout move, then Hughes grabbed his first try in Bristol colours, getting himself on the end of Protheroe’s sweeping break to send the home side into half-time with a nine-point lead.

That soon became 16, as Joe Joyce and John Afoa combined to send Uren under the posts, with Eden’s conversion and a long-range penalty making it 27-8.

Ben Loader dashed to the whitewash twice in 10 minutes to close the gap, as Irish clawed their way back into the game on the hour mark.

But Eden’s third penalty and Protheroe’s opening score restored the hosts’ lead, before the full-back’s finale, scorching down the right-hand touchline and outstripping the covering defence, ensured there was no way back for Irish, despite Cooke’s late show.


The teams:

Bristol Bears: Protheroe, Fricker, O’Conor, Hurrell, Daniels (Powell 55), Eden (Randall 50), Uren; Woolmore (Y Thomas 66), Thacker (Malton 57), Afoa (c) (N Thomas 50), Holmes, Muldowney (Hawkins 55), Joyce, Thomas (Heenan 64), Hughes.
Replacements: Malton, Y Thomas, N Thomas, Hawkins, Heenan, Randall, Sheedy, Powell.

London Irish: J Atkins, Williams, Macken, Brophy Clews, Hassell-Collins, Myler (c), Englefield; Hobbs-Awoyemi, McMillan, Haskins, Maddison, Botha, Northcote-Green, Gilsenan, Curtis-Harris.
Replacements: B Atkins, Goodrick-Clarke, Cilliers, Munga, Cooke, Steele, Cokanasiga, Loader. 

Bristol Bears: Tries: Thacker 26, Hughes 28, Uren 45, Protheroe 75, 78. Cons: Eden 26, 28, 45, 75, 78. Pens: Eden 11, 50, 69.

London Irish: Tries: Englefield 20, Loader 56, 65, Cooke 79. Cons: Myler 56, 65. Pens: Myler 1. Yellow: Botha 24


Key moment:

Having fallen behind to a 20th-minute try, Bristol took full advantage of a yellow card to Ruan Botha to score twice in five minutes, first through Harry Thacker and then Nathan Hughes, who touched down for the first time in Bristol colours. 

It saw a huge swing in momentum, as Pat Lam's men battled to a bonus-point win. 

Nathan Hughes scored his first Bristol try (JMPUK).

Man of the match: Mat Protheroe

Two tries and an assist for the scintillating Mat Protheroe, who now has three tries in two starts in the Premiership Cup.

Protheroe stormed clear to send Nathan Hughes under the sticks before the half-time break, before sealing the win for Bristol with two tries in three minutes in the closing stages.

The full back collected Harry Randall's pass to dive over in the corner, before his dazzling 50-metre run capped a man of the match display. 


Lam reaction


Photo of the match

Andy Uren touches down early in the second half (JMPUK).

Social media reaction:


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