- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, October 26th 2019
- Twickenham Stoop
Will Carpenter reports from Twickenham Stoop
Report: Harlequins 22-17 Bristol Bears
Saturday, October 26th 2019
Bristol Bears fought back to earn a losing bonus-point in a rain-soaked Gallagher Premiership clash with Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday.
Jake Heenan applied the finishing touches to a free-flowing attack nine minutes from time, to set up a gripping finale in West London - and Pat Lam’s men almost snatched victory in the dying seconds as Quins repelled two late lineout drives.
But Bristol’s 18-year wait for a win at The Stoop goes on, with Joe Marchant’s 67th-minute try and 17 points from the boot of Marcus Smith cancelling out Heenan’s effort and four Callum Sheedy penalties to edge Quins over the line.
In the driving wind and rain, Bristol were first on the scoreboard courtesy of a long-range Callum Sheedy penalty after the visitors had gained the upper hand in the game’s opening scrum.
His opposite number, Marcus Smith levelled things up from a similar distance before Sheedy struck again, taking advantage of a Quins infringement and subsequent back chat to gain an extra ten metres and edge Bristol back in front.
Pat Lam’s side were enjoying some early dominance at scrum time and a third Sheedy penalty extended their lead on the half-hour mark.
But back came Quins again, with two Smith penalties in five minutes in the lead up to half time ensuring the sides headed into the sheds at level pegging.
Smith’s fourth successful kick edged Quins ahead early in the second period – and when Nathan Hughes was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on 55 minutes, Smith capitalised once again to give the home side a six-point lead.
Bristol survived the remainder of Hughes’ period on the side-line unscathed, and instead, closed the gap to just three points with Sheedy’s fourth penalty of the afternoon.
But the killer blow arrived 13 minutes from time, as Marchant beat the covering defence, and the dead ball line, to Martin Landajo’s kick ahead to touch down, with Smith’s conversion giving the hosts the first breathing space of the afternoon.
Trailing by 10 points, Bristol rallied through Ed Holmes, whose bustling break put his side on the front foot, before Charles Piutau and Piers O’Conor joined forces to put Heenan over in the left-hand corner with nine minutes left to play.
Sheedy’s touchline conversion faded wide, but Bristol would come again with two last-gasp opportunities inside the Quins 22.
Twice Sheedy kicked penalties to the corner, as Bristol sensed the kind of late drama that had served them well last season.
But Quins’ resistance held firm to leave a battling Bears side with a losing bonus point for their efforts.
Teams and scorers
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O’Conor, S Piutau, Protheroe; (Hurrell 55) Sheedy, Uren (Randall 69); Woolmore (Y Thomas 69), Thacker (Malton 55), Afoa, Joyce (Holmes 59), Vui, Luatua (c), D Thomas (Heenan 59), Hughes.
Replacements: Malton, Y Thomas, Thiede, Holmes, Heenan, Randall, Lloyd, Hurrell.
Harlequins: Morris, Murley, Marchant, Tapuai, Ibitoye, Smith, Landajo; Garcia Botta, Baldwin, Collier, Lewies, Symons, Robshaw (c), Will Evans, Lawday.
Replacements: Elia Elia, Lambert, Kerrod, Young, Dombrandt, Saunders, Herron, R Chisholm.
Harlequins: Tries: Marchant 67. Cons: Smith 67. Pens: Smith 13, 35, 39, 43, 58.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Heenan 71. Pens: Sheedy 3, 16, 30, 60. Yellow: Hughes 55.
For 67 minutes, it was the right boots of fly halves Callum Sheedy and Marcus Smith making the only additions to the scoreboard in a sodden encounter at The Stoop.
But Quins dealt what turned out to be the killer blow when Marchant raced on to scrum half Landajo's well-judged grubber kick to touch down, with Smith's conversion giving the hosts a ten-point lead heading into the closing stages.
Pat Lam reaction
Man of the match: John Afoa
In a game dominated by the set piece, the masterful John Afoa was front and centre for Bristol Bears.
The former All Black led the Bears' charge at scrum time, while also adding some neat touches around the park in tough conditions, as Pat Lam's men battled to a consolation bonus point on the road.
Photo of the match
Social media highlights
Bears pick up a losing bonus point at The Stoop. https://t.co/qmAxc6MODj— Bears Beyond The Gate (@BearsBeyondGate) October 26, 2019
- Smith (5)
- Yellow Cards:
- Sheedy (4)
- Yellow Cards: