- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, June 5th 2021
- Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Will Carpenter reports from Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Report: Leicester Tigers 23-26 Bristol Bears
Saturday, June 5th 2021
Bristol Bears held off a late Leicester charge to earn a bonus-point win at Mattioli Wood Welford Road and seal a home semi-final in the Gallagher Premiership.
First half tries from Semi Radradra and the returning Harry Randall fired Pat Lam’s side into an eight-point lead at the interval, but Jonny McPhillips’ third penalty and Hanro Liebenberg’s score edged the Tigers in front on 54 minutes.
The Bears responded immediately as Sheedy sent Malins through a gap and on his way to the line from 60 metres, before O’Conor’s interception and offload gifted a second to Radradra and bagged the bonus-point.
But in a dramatic final quarter, Jake Kerr was sent to the sin bin and Julian Montoya powered over to make it a three-point game with 13 minutes left to play.
And with Tigers camped on the visitors’ line, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro became the second player to see yellow, as the hosts piled on the pressure late on.
But the Bears held on, with Uren scooping into touch to seal the win and a first ever top-two finish in the Gallagher Premiership.
McPhillips punctuated a scrappy opening 20 minutes with his first penalty of the afternoon, before the Bears came to life in trademark style. Malins broke from deep and offloaded from the deck into the lap of Siale Piutau, and the Tongan’s pinpoint pass sent Radradra to the line.
McPhillips added a second, but the returning Randall quickly cancelled it out, tapping a penalty on half way and racing over for his side’s second try.
It was five-point game four minutes into the second period when McPhillips landed his third penalty of the afternoon, but he was unable to land a fourth from the angle shortly after.
The Tigers’ number ten was the architect of Liebenberg’s score on 54 minutes, breaking the line before locating the South African in space to give the home side a narrow lead.
The Bears hit back with a sensational first phase try – Sheedy with the double-pump to pull Murimurivalu out of the defensive line and allow Malins to ghost through the whole the Fijian had left.
The bonus point arrived on the hour mark when O’Conor snaffled an interception from George Martin’s loose pass and fed Radradra, but when Kerr was shown yellow with 15 minutes remaining, Tigers sensed an opportunity.
They took it almost immediately courtesy of Montoya and a well-worked driving lineout – and when Chaparro replaced Kerr in the sin bin, Tigers found themselves camped on the Bears line.
Four scrum drives followed before Uren latched on to a loose ball to punt into touch and ensure the Bears’ second successive play-off semi-final would be at Ashton Gate.
Leicester Tigers: Steward; Potter, Moroni, Scott, Murimurivalu; McPhillips, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (c), Cole, Wells, Henderson, Martin, Reffell, Liebenberg.
Replacements: Montoya, Whitcombe, Heyes, Lavanini, Wiese, Wigglesworth, Henry, Nadolo.
Bristol Bears: Malins; O'Conor, Radradra, S Piutau (Leiua 75), Purdy (Lloyd 58); Sheedy, Randall; Y Thomas, Capon (Kerr 40), Afoa (Chaparro 40), Attwood (Joyce 58), Vui, Luatua (c), D Thomas, Hughes (Earl 40).
Replacements: Kerr, Woolmore, Chaparro, Joyce, Earl, Uren, Lloyd, Leiua.
Leicester Tigers: Tries: Liebenberg 54, Montoya 66. Cons: McPhillips 54, 68. Pens: McPhillips 5, 36, 44
Bristol Bears: Tries: Radradra 21, 60, Randall 38, Malins 57. Cons: Sheedy 21, 38, 60. Yellow: Kerr 65, Chaparro 80
After going behind to Hanro Liebenberg's well-worked score, the Bears hit back in style with this magnificent score from Max Malins.
Pat Lam reaction
Man of the match: Siale Piutau
Physicality, flair and all-round class from the experienced Tongan at Welford Road.
Siale Piutau raced clear to send Semi Radradra over in the first half, and remained a defensive rock throughout a crucial bonus-point win.
- Liebenberg, Montoya
- McPhillips (2)
- McPhillips (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Malins, Radradra (2), Randall
- Sheedy (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Kerr, Tetaz Chaparro