- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, March 9th 2019
- Franklin's Gardens
Will Carpenter reports from Franklin's Gardens
Report: Northampton Saints 24-26 Bristol Bears
Saturday, March 9th 2019
Ian Madigan held his nerve to land a last-gasp touchline conversion and fire Bristol Bears to a first away Gallagher Premiership win of the season, in a remarkable encounter that saw Northampton Saints finish the game with just 11 men on the field.
The replacement fly-half stepped up seven minutes into stoppage time to convert Piers O’Conor’s try - Bristol's fourth of the afternoon - which had brought the scores level with just Madigan’s kick to come.
It capped an astonishing ten-minute period in which Conus Reinach, Jamie Gibson, Tom Wood and Alex Waller were all sent to the sin-bin as Bristol piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
But a gripping finale came to an equally gripping conclusion, as Sheedy and Madigan combined to send O'Conor over on the left-hand side, before Madigan dealt the killer blow from the tee to seal a memorable bonus-point win on the road for Pat Lam's men.
In a compelling, end-to-end clash, Bristol were quick out of the blocks and led at the interval thanks to tries from Joe Batley and Jordan Crane, with the bulldozing Taqele Naiyaravoro replying for the hosts.
A double Saints strike early in the second half edged Chris Boyd’s side in front, as Ahsee Tuala and George Furbank touched down in quick succession to turn the game on its head.
Back came Bristol through replacement scrum half, Harry Randall, applying the finishing touches to a stunning break from O’Conor to swing the game back in the visitors’ favour.
The lead didn’t last long, as Reinach picked off Randall’s pass to cruise in under the posts, with Francis’ conversion giving Saints a five-point advantage.
It set up a thrilling finale, but no one could have predicted the madness that would ensue.
First, Reinach saw yellow for a professional foul as Randall attempted to take a quick-tap penalty ten metres from the Saints line, then from the resulting lineout drive, Gibson followed suit for pulling down the maul.
Bristol went to the corner again and Wood became the third Saints player in five minutes to be sent to the sin-bin.
With the hosts down to 12 men, Bristol changed tact and opted for the scrum, with another powerful drive resulting in an extraordinary fourth yellow card in ten minutes, this time for Alex Waller, as the visitors pressed for the try that would level the scores.
And it eventually arrived, with the clock six minutes into the red, as Madigan’s cut-out pass found O’Conor, who capped an impressive individual display with a strong finish on the left-hand side.
From there, it was all about Madigan, who kept his composure to slot the decisive kick and earn his side a vital bonus-point win on the road.
Teams and scorers:
Northampton Saints: Tries: Naiyaravoro 29, Tuala 45, Furbank 48, Reinach 57. Cons: Francis 48, 57. Yellow: Reinach 73, Gibson 76, Wood 77, Waller 80.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Batley 5, Crane 12, Randall 54, O’Conor 80. Cons: Daniels 12, 54, Madigan 80
Northampton Saints: Furbank; Tuala, Hutchinson, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Grayson, Reinach; Van Wyk, Marshall, Hill, Moon, Ratuniyarawa, Wood (capt), Ludlam, Eadie. Replacements: Fish, Waller, Ford-Robinson, Craig, Gibson, Mitchell, Burrell, Collins.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau (Protheroe 30), Morahan, O’Conor, S Piutau (cc), Daniels (Madigan 67); Sheedy, Uren (Randall 49); Y Thomas (Woolmore 65), Thacker (Parry 77), Afoa (Thiede 72), Batley (Smith 59), Vui, Luatua, Heenan, Crane (cc) (Lam 43). Replacements: Parry, Woolmore, Thiede, Smith, Lam, Randall, Madigan, Protheroe.
Well, what else?
Piers O'Conor's 86th-minute try levelled the scores at Franklin's Gardens after an astonishing finale, and replacement fly half, Ian Madigan stepped up to slot a match-winning conversion with the final kick of the game.
Man of the match: Piers O'Conor
This man just gets better and better in a Bristol Bears shirt - and this was another stellar display from Piers O'Conor.
The centre, who later moved to full back, scored the decisive try late on at Franklin's Gardens after collecting Ian Madigan's wide pass.
It added to his earlier assist for Harry Randall's second-half try, stepping and breaking from deep before feeding the scrum half on a two-on-one.
Photo of the match:
The best of social media:
- Furbank, Tuala, Naiyaravoro, Reinach
- Francis (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Reinach, Wood, Waller, Gibson
- O'Conor, Batley, Crane, Randall
- Daniels (2), Madigan
- Yellow Cards: