- Gallagher Premiership
- Sunday, February 16th 2020
- Franklin's Gardens
Will Carpenter reports from Franklin's Gardens
Report: Northampton Saints 14-20 Bristol Bears
Sunday, February 16th 2020
Two tries in two minutes from Henry Purdy and Lewis Thiede saw Bristol Bears fight back from 14-0 down to snatch a dramatic victory over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens for the second successive season.
Trailing 11-0 at the break after Harry Mallinder’s first half score, Saints edged further ahead courtesy of James Grayson’s third penalty early in the second period.
But Pat Lam’s men sprung into life on the hour mark, as Purdy picked a beautiful line to score out wide after Piers O’Conor’s long-range break, with Callum Sheedy converting to go with his earlier penalty.
The Bristol fly half was back in action almost immediately from the restart, dummying and breaking from deep, before Thiede powered over from close range to edge the visitors in front on 65 minutes.
Ian Madigan made it 20 unanswered points with an 80th-minute penalty, to send Bristol back into the Gallagher Premiership top four.
A frustrating opening period for Bristol saw them punished for numerous turnovers, as Saints took the upper hand with Mallinder’s ninth-minute try, after strong work from Harrison and Hutchinson in the build-up.
Grayson then added a penalty after Harry Randall was penalised for holding on inside the Bristol 22 – and the Saints fly half was at it again on 28 minutes, as the home side raced into an 11-0 lead.
Bristol’s only bright moment of a sloppy opening 40 came three minutes before the interval, but Bedlow was unable to hold on after racing through a hole in the Saints defence.
Grayson’s third successful penalty looked to have given the hosts an unassailable lead four minutes into the second period, but Bristol had other ideas.
Hutchinson saw yellow for a high tackle on the onrushing Joe Joyce, who looked certain to score had it not been for the centre’s intervention. But referee Tom Foley opted against awarding a penalty try, leaving Sheedy to knock overt the simplest of penalties to get Bristol on the scoreboard.
Saints survived the rest of Hutchinson’s sin-binning unscathed, but against a full allocation, Bristol finally found the opening they had been searching for.
O’Conor surged on to Sheedy’s pass to take play from one 22 to the other, leaving Randall and Joyce to locate the supporting Purdy, who put his foot down to beat Cobus Reinach to the whitewash.
From the restart, it was more of the same – Sheedy this time the orchestrator, dummying and shaking off the attention of Harrison and linking with replacement scrum half, Andy Uren to take play back into Saints territory. The fly half was the first on hand at the breakdown, picking and stabbing through a deft kick, latched on to by Chris Vui and then finished from close range by replacement, Thiede.
Saints fought back and almost snatched back the lead, only for Morahan to dislodge the ball from Mallinder’s grasp, with the line at his mercy.
Bristol were afforded another let off when Ahsee Tuala spilt a regulation pass on the right-hand side, allowing Uren to hack downfield.
From the resulting scrum, it was left to Ian Madigan to complete a remarkable comeback with a last-gasp penalty, as Bristol secured a fifth league win of the season.
Teams and scorers
Saints: Mallinder; Collins, Proctor, Hutchinson, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Reinach; A Waller (cc), Haywood, O Franks; Coles, Moon; Eadie, Wood, Harrison (cc).
Replacements: Fish, B Franks, Painter, Bean, Onojaife, Mitchell, Dingwall, Tuala.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O'Conor, Bedlow, Leiua (Purdy 40); Sheedy (Madigan 75), Randall (Uren 62); Woolmore (Y Thomas 69), Malton (Capon 45), Afoa (Thiede 62); Attwood, Vui; Luatua (c) (Joyce 40), D Thomas, Hughes (Heenan 69).
Replacements: Capon, Y Thomas, Thiede, Joyce, Heenan, Uren, Madigan, Purdy.
Northampton Saints: Tries: Mallinder 9. Pens: Grayson 17, 28, 44. Yellow: Hutchinson 50
Bristol Bears: Tries: Purdy 62, Thiede 65. Cons: Sheedy 62, 65. Pens: Sheedy 51, Madigan 80
After clawing their way back into the contest with Henry Purdy's 60th-minute try, Callum Sheedy's break and subsequent kick ahead gave his side the perfect platform to strike, and Lewis Thiede applied the finishing touches from close range to turn the game on its head.
Pat Lam reaction
"We got the result we wanted, but not the performance. We have our standards and that wasn't good enough."— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) February 16, 2020
Pat Lam has high expectations for his team 👇 pic.twitter.com/VbTHu7KFBp
Man of the match: Callum Sheedy
A sensational second half from the Bears number ten, who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck to fire them back into the contest.
Sheedy kicked a penalty before orchestrating Lewis Thiede's try. The fly half dummied and shook off the attention of Harrison, before linking with replacement scrum half, Andy Uren to take play back into Saints territory. The fly half was the first on hand at the breakdown, picking and stabbing through a deft kick, latched on to by Chris Vui and then finished from close range by replacement, Thiede.
Photo of the match
Social media highlights
Into the top 4️⃣ we go. 😎— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) February 16, 2020
UP THE BLOODY BEARS! pic.twitter.com/BROTX6GI7A
Thank you @BristolBears for completing nick drysdale's 67th bday present. I just brought him the ticket, you gave him the victory win 🤗 and keeping going to the last whistle pic.twitter.com/cpaC6jhRE6— ruth drysdale (@RSDrysdale) February 16, 2020
@Sheedy95 conversion of @henrypurdy_ try took him past 500 competitive points for @BristolBears in his 50th competitive start. Only @Adrianjarvis83 933 pts (97 start) @felipecontepomi 861 (61) Jason Strange 825 (77) Mark Tainton 757 (83) Paul Burke 576 (55) have more.— Neil Williams (@BrisRugStatto) February 16, 2020
- Grayson (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Thiede, Purdy
- Sheedy (2)
- Sheedy, Madigan
- Yellow Cards: