- Gallagher Premiership
- Sunday, October 4th 2020
- Twickenham Stoop
Will Carpenter reports from Twickenham Stoop
Report: London Irish 7-36 Bristol Bears
Sunday, October 4th 2020
Bristol Bears booked their place in the Gallagher Premiership play offs for the first time since 2007 on a dramatic final afternoon at The Stoop.
A bonus-point 7-36 victory over London Irish, combined with Bath’s draw with Saracens, ensured a top-four finish for Pat Lam’s men, with their opponents next weekend still to be decided.
Semi Radradra and Ben Earl touched down for first half tries to give the visitors a 17-0 lead at the interval, before Harry Thacker and a crucial 76th-minute penalty try earned maximum points for the Bears.
Will Capon put the icing on the cake with try number five from another driving lineout – but attention quickly turned to Allianz Park, where a late Saracens converted try sparked celebrations in the Bears camp.
In soggy conditions at The Stoop, the Bears opened the scoring on 13 minutes when O’Conor’s incisive break was finished by the supporting Radradra.
Dominating possession and territory, the visitors doubled their lead on the half hour when a well-worked driving lineout saw Earl dart over for his 11th league try of the season.
The Bears almost grabbed a third five minutes before the interval, but after slicing through the Irish defence and crossing the whitewash, Malins spilt the ball over the dead-ball line, before making amends with a well-struck penalty to give his side a 17-point buffer at the break.
Ollie Hassell-Collins’ solo effort pulled one back for Irish, before Thacker applied the finishing touches to a well-constructed driving lineout, putting the Bears within touching distance of the all-important bonus point.
It arrived four minutes from time, as Irish were forced to pull down another rampant Bears maul and referee Karl Dickson went under the posts to award a penalty try.
Will Capon capped an emphatic away win with a carbon copy of Thacker’s try, and with Tim Swinson driving over from close range at Allianz Park, the Bears’ place in the play offs was secure.
Teams and scorers
Bristol Bears: Tries: Radradra 13, Earl 30, Thacker 67, Penalty 76, Capon 80. Cons: Malins 13, 30, 67. Pens: Malins 36
London Irish: Tries: Hassell-Collins 62. Cons: Jackson 62
Bristol Bears: Lloyd (Sheedy 62); Morahan, Radradra (Bedlow 75), S Piutau (c), O’Conor; Malins, Randall (Uren 67); Woolmore (Sinckler 58), Thacker (Capon 74), Afoa (Y Thomas 58), Holmes (Eadie 71), Joyce, Vui, Heenan (Harding 73), Earl.
System players: Capon, Y Thomas, Sinckler, Eadie, Harding, Uren, Sheedy, Bedlow.
London Irish: Homer, Loader, Rona, Cokanasiga, Hassell-Collins, Jackson, Phipps; Dell, Creevy, Kepu, Nott, Munga, Rogerson (c), Cooke, Tuisue.
Replacements: Cornish, Elrington, Hoskins, de Chaves, Donnell, Meehan, Neal, Stokes
The all-important bonus point.
The Bears battled away for the fourth try at a rain-soaked Stoop - and it arrived in the form of a penalty try.
Another powerful driving lineout got the edge on Irish, and when the hosts halted the charge illegally, referee Karl Dickson awarded the penalty try to give the Bears a bonus point.
Pat Lam reaction
🎥| "It's important for the whole club - players, staff, our community and our fans. We know they're happy back home. We've earned the right to be here."— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) October 4, 2020
Pat Lam insists #BristolBears aren't done yet 👇 pic.twitter.com/gS2BCRhaZO
Man of the match: Joe Joyce
In one of the biggest games in the club's recent history, it was a Bristolian who stood head and shoulders above everyone else at The Stoop.
Joyce dominated at the set-piece and put in a monstrous shift around the park, as the Bears secured a play off place for the first time in 13 years.
Social media highlights
THE SHOW GOES ON! 😍— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) October 4, 2020
What a story 🤯 pic.twitter.com/ynxNa6ozkE
What a day for all of @BristolBears community 😍 up the Bears 🐻🐾🔥— Steven Luatua (@StevenLuatua) October 4, 2020
Well deserved!— Jon Lansdown (@JonLansdown) October 4, 2020
Great season so far & professional performance 👍
We’ll work out who we’ve got to look forward to next when the authorities make the right call..
At least I can say without looking compromised - Bath should be in.
Feel for Worcester and Saints https://t.co/ozIWr1oStB
Congrats everyone @BristolBears go all the way 🙌🏽— Jack Lam 🇼🇸 (@LegOfLam) October 4, 2020
- Yellow Cards:
- Radradra, Thacker, Earl, Capon
- Malins (3)
- Yellow Cards: