- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, April 27th 2019
- Welford Road
Will Carpenter reports from Welford Road
Report: Leicester Tigers 20-23 Bristol Bears
Saturday, April 27th 2019
Harry Thacker returned to haunt his former club with a 75th-minute try to earn Bristol Bears a first victory at Welford Road in more than 17 years.
The hooker, who joined Bristol from Leicester last summer, powered over from a driving lineout late on, as Pat Lam’s side came from behind to snatch another dramatic win and complete a first-ever league double over the Tigers.
Bristol had trailed right up until Thacker’s decisive score, as 15 points from the boot of George Ford and Jordan Olowofela’s first-half try, cancelled out Callum Sheedy and Dan Thomas, who touched down either side of half time.
But with five minutes left on the clock, Bristol held their nerve to piece together a formidable drive at the lineout, with Thacker applying the finishing touches to a second away win of the season for the visitors.
A cagey opening period saw Ford and Sheedy cancel each other out with two penalties apiece, before a slick Tigers attack released Olowofela for a 30-metre run-in and the game’s opening score on 31 minutes.
Bristol responded in typically positive fashion, as first Leiua and then Luatua pierced holes in the Tigers defence, before Sheedy evaded the shackles of Thompson to dive over for his third try of an impressive campaign.
The fly-half’s conversion drifted wide in blustery conditions, as the sides headed into the sheds level at 11-11.
Ford was on target early in the second period, before Bristol saw a try from Tom Pincus chalked off for an obstruction in the build-up.
The visitors kept the pressure on inside the Tigers’ 22, as Luatua and Vui combined to send James Lay within inches of the whitewash.
The end result was a yellow card for Matt Toomua, penalised for the killing the ball, but it didn’t prevent the home side from extending their lead with yet another Ford penalty at the other end.
The sin-bin period looked to have been squandered by Bristol, until the visitors sparked into action with a dazzling second try. Luatua and Pincus exchanged offloads on the right-hand side to release the outstanding O’Conor – and after the centre was hauled down five metres short, quick recycling of the ball sent Dan Thomas over on the opposite side for a superb team try.
Sheedy’s conversion drifted wide again, while Ford landed his fifth penalty of the afternoon to make it a four-point game 11 minutes from time.
But as they have done on numerous occasions this Gallagher Premiership season, Pat Lam’s side held their nerve in the closing stages, with Thacker’s try and Madigan’s conversion giving Bristol a historic triumph at Welford Road.
Teams and scorers:
Leicester Tigers: Tries: Olowofela 31. Pens: Ford 5, 22, 48, 56, 69. Yellow: Toomua 50
Bristol Bears: Tries: Sheedy 36, D Thomas 58, Thacker 75. Cons: Madigan 75. Pens: Sheedy 10, 26
Bristol Bears: Protheroe; Pincus, O’Conor, Bedlow (S Piutau 31), Leiua; Sheedy (cc) (Madigan 63), Uren (Randall 53); Woolmore (Ja Lay 47), Thacker, Afoa, Holmes, Vui, Luatua (cc) (Crane 59), D Thomas, Haining (Smith 56). Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Ja Lay, Thiede, Smith, Crane, Randall, Madigan, S Piutau.
Leicester Tigers: Blommetjies, May, Smith, Toomua, Olowofela, Ford (c), Harrison; Genge, Polota-Nau, Cole, Spencer, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, Thompson, Kalamafoni. Replacements: Kerr, Gigena, Heyes, Wells, Williams, White, Aspland-Robinson, Veainu.
Back at Welford Road for the first time since his summer switch, Harry Thacker struck the killer blow with a try five minutes from time to seal a dramatic win for Bristol Bears.
The hooker touched down from the tail of a driving lineout to complete a league double over Leicester for the first time in club history.
Man of the match: Piers O'Conor
For a man playing his first season in the Gallagher Premiership, Piers O'Conor continues to look ever the seasoned top-flight centre - and Saturday was no different.
The 23-year-old put another significant shift for Pat Lam's side, making the initial break for Dan Thomas' second-half try and linking play beautifully in the wide channels.
Photo of the match:
Best of social media:
- Ford (5)
- Yellow Cards:
- Sheedy, Thacker, Thomas
- Sheedy (2)
- Yellow Cards: