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Will Carpenter


Posted Monday, September 24th 2018

Report: Bristol Bears 'A' 32-33 Saracens Storm

A last-gasp penalty from Saracens Storm’s Tom Whitely broke Bristol Bears ‘A’ hearts in a pulsating Premiership Shield clash at Clifton RFC.

Ehize Ehizode’s 79th-minute try looked to have sealed a dramatic victory for Bristol, who fought back from a 10-20 half-time deficit to lead 32-30 in the final minute thanks to second-half scores from Dan Thomas, Nathan Chamberlain and Ehizode.

But Whitely stepped up to land a 35-metre penalty with the final kick of the game, as the visitors snatched it at the death to leave the home side with just two consolation bonus points.

What happened?

After Tom Pincus’ fifth-minute penalty had given Bristol Bears ‘A’ the lead, Saracens centre Dom Morris scooped up a loose ball in the hosts’ midfield to sprint in from 40 metres.

Manu Vunipola added the conversion and followed that up with a penalty on 21 minutes, as Saracens capitalised on Bears errors.

Ali Crossdale finished off a flowing counter attack to extend Saracens’ lead five minutes later, before Sione Vailanu powered over from close range for the visitors’ third try seven minutes before the break.

Bristol Bears ‘A’ hit back on the stroke of half-time when scrum half Nic Strizaker caught the Saracens defence napping with a quickly taken penalty to dart over, leaving Pincus with a straight-forward conversion from just the left of the posts, but Saracens still headed into the sheds with 10-20 lead.

Sam Graham takes on the Saracens Storm defence (JMPUK).

Bristol Bears began the second-half with an added spring in their step and scored twice in quick succession through Thomas and Chamberlain, with the latter rounding off a dazzling move started by a powerful surge and offload from Sam Jeffries.

Pincus converted both to put Bristol into a 24-20 lead, but Saracens hit back immediately when Vailanu crashed over for his second from the base of a scrum.

A Pincus penalty levelled the scores at 27-27, before Whitely nudged Saracens back in front with just five minutes to play.

Bristol weren’t finished and looked to have sealed a dramatic win when, with Obatoyinbo in the sin-bin, Ehizode bundled over from close range after good work from Reiss Cullen.

But Pincus’ conversion drifted wide and after the hosts failed to collect the kick off, referee Nick Wood awarded a penalty for a high tackle and Whitely held his nerve to take the spoils for Saracens.

The teams:

Bristol Bears ‘A’: Pincus; Holden (Cornish Pirates), Powell, Chamberlain, Chapman; Bedlow, Stirzaker; Lay, Lindsay, Dawe, Batley, Jeffries, Heenan (c), Thomas, Graham. Replacements: Capon, Cosgrove, English, Ehizode, Dun, Cullen, Leeming (Hartpury), Evans (Bristol Uni).

Saracens Storm: Thompson-Stringer, Gray, Judge, Day, Kpoku, Christie, Maka, Vailanu; Whitely, Vunipola, Lewington, Bird-Tulloch, Morris, Crossdale, Gallagher. Replacements: McElroy, Adams-Hale, Walker, Kpoku, Scopes, Taylor, Hakalo, Obatoyinbo.