- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, January 4th 2020
- Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Will Carpenter reports from Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Report: Leicester Tigers 31-18 Bristol Bears
Saturday, January 4th 2020
Bristol Bears were made to pay some early indiscipline as Leicester Tigers took the spoils from an end-to-end Gallagher Premiership clash at Welford Road.
Jordan Lay and Alapati Leiua were sin-binned inside the first 20 minutes to leave the visitors with just 13 men for a short time - and Pat Lam’s side paid the price, with the hosts racing into a 21-6 half time lead courtesy of tries from Ellis Genge, Jonny May and George Ford.
Two tries in two minutes clawed Bristol back into the contest just minutes into the second period, as Dan Thomas and Piers O’Conor touched down to set up a thrilling finale.
But a George Ford penalty and Jonny May’s second late on sealed the deal for Leicester, leaving Bristol to rue two costly yellow cards.
It was the worst possible start for Bristol, as Ellis Genge crashed over from close range inside three minutes.
The visitors responded immediately with a penalty from the boot of Sheedy, before Lay saw yellow for a high tackle on Olowefela, via the TMO.
Despite being a man down, Bristol narrowed the deficit to just a single point with Sheedy’s second penalty, but Bristol were dealt another blow on 18 minutes, when Leiua was sin-binned for an alleged deliberate knock on.
The Tigers wasted little time in capitalising on their numerical advantage with a quick-fire double strike, as first May and then Ford touched down to fire the home side into a commanding lead.
The England fly half then saw his penalty drift wide of the posts as the Bears were afforded a let off – and they received another one just two minutes before the interval, with Veainu spilling the ball with a clear run to the line.
Back to their full complement, Bristol fought their way back but were denied a first try of the afternoon by some desperate Tigers defensive work, as a strong hit from Lavanini dislodged the ball from the grasp of Ed Holmes to send Tigers into the break with a 15-point lead.
That was quickly reduced to eight points after the break, as Thomas got the all-important touch from a driving lineout, with Sheedy adding the conversion.
And the Bristol number ten was back in the action straight from the kick-off, stepping and scything through the Tigers’ defence before kicking ahead for O’Conor to gather and finish. Sheedy’s second conversion was off target, but all of a sudden, it was a three-point game.
Ford’s first successful penalty of the afternoon gave the home side an inch of breathing space heading into the final quarter, but May’s second ensured a bonus point win for Leicester while condemning Bristol to a third straight defeat.
Teams and scorers
Bristol Bears: C Piutau (Sheedy 79); Fricker, O’Conor, Hurrell (Morahan 54), Leiua; Sheedy (Madigan 75), Randall (Stirzaker 60); Jo Lay (Woolmore 54), Thacker (Capon 75), Afoa (Lahiff 16), Vui, Holmes (Attwood 60), Luatua (c), D Thomas, Hughes (Heenan 65). Replacements: Capon, Woolmore, Lahiff, Attwood, Heenan, Stirzaker, Madigan, Morahan.
Leicester Tigers: Veainu, Olowofela, Taute, Eastmond, May, Ford, Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (c), Cole, Lavanini, Green, Wells, Taufua, Kalamafoni. Replacements: Polota-Nau, Bateman, Leatigaga, Thompson, Reffell, Harrison, Reid, Worth.
Leicester Tigers: Tries: Genge 3, May 19, 75, Ford 27. Cons: Ford 3, 19, 27, 75. Pens: Ford 54
Bristol Bears: Tries: Thomas 46, O’Conor 47. Cons: Sheedy 46, 47. Pens: Sheedy 6, 16. Yellow: Lay 9, Leiua 18
Two yellow cards inside the opening 20 minutes gave Bristol a mountain to climb early on, with Leicester taking full advantage courtesy of tries from Ellis Genge, George Ford and Jonny May.
A quick-fire double gave Bristol a sniff early in the second half, but they were left to rue the damage done by the first-half sin binnings.
Pat Lam reaction
Man of the match: Harry Thacker
Thacker was the shining light in Bristol's performance, putting in a huge shift on both sides of the ball at Welford Road.
The hooker was at his bustling best with ball in hand, while also adding in some deft touches, as the Bears clawed their way back into the contest early in the second period, before May's second put Leicester out of sight.
Photo of the match
- May (2), Ford, Genge
- Ford (4)
- Yellow Cards:
- O'Conor, Thomas
- Sheedy (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Leiua, Lay