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Will Carpenter


Posted Saturday, October 27th 2018

Report: Northampton Saints 51-24 Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears’ Premiership Rugby Cup campaign began with a defeat, as they went down 51-24 to Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday afternoon.

A first-half try from Tom Lindsay and further scores after the break from Jordan Crane, Tom Pincus and Jack Lam earned the visitors a bonus-point on the road, but it was little consolation as Saints ran in seven of their own – including a brace for Francois van Wyk - to seal a commanding home win.

James Grayson scored a try, three conversions and two penalties to finish with a 17-point haul in a man of the match display, while Alex Mitchell, George Furbank, Reece Marshall and Andrew Kellaway were all on the scoresheet for Saints.

What happened?

It was Saints who were quickest out of the blocks on a bitterly cold afternoon in the East Midlands, as James Grayson rounded off a period of pressure inside the Bears 22 with a neat finish in the corner.

Francois van Wyk doubled the hosts’ lead with the first of his brace after Stirzaker’s clearance had been charged down, before Bristol hit back through Tom Lindsay, touching down at the back of a driving maul.

Grayson then landed two penalties in as many minutes to extend the Saints lead further, before van Wyk’s second and Alex Mitchell’s score on the stroke of half time ensured Chris Boyd’s side would take a hefty lead into the interval.

Joe Batley celebrates Tom Lindsay's first-half try (JMPUK).

The Saints dominance continued after the break, as Reece Marshall powered over for his side’s fifth try just eight minutes in.

Crane went over for Bristol’s second after Pincus was hauled down short, before George Furbank picked a fine line to restore Saints’ advantage on the hour mark.

They passed the 50-point buffer when replacement Andrew Kellaway slid over after finding himself in acres of space on the right-hand side – while at the other end, Pincus collected Madigan’s cross-field kick to score Bristol’s third with nine minutes left to play.

The visitors grabbed a consolation bonus point late on as Jack Lam powered over two minutes from time, but that was as good as it got for Bristol.

The teams:

Bristol Bears: Pincus; Powell (Cullen 72), Bedlow (Eden 57), Pisi (cc), Perkins (Lloyd 54); Madigan, Stirzaker, Lay (Cosgrove 67), Lindsay (Capon 72), Thomas (Armstrong 47), Ehizode (Dun 63), Batley (Hawkins 59), Lam, Heenan, Crane (cc). Replacements: Capon, Cosgrove, Armstrong, Hawkins, Dun, Cullen, Eden, Lloyd.

Northampton Saints: Furbank, Sleightholme, Dingwall, Burrell, Worley, Grayson, Mitchell;Van Wyk, Marshall, Garside, Barrow, Moon, Wood (c), Ludlam, Eadie. Replacements: Haywood, Davis, Higgins, Craig, Onojaife, Davies, Strachan, Kellaway.

Bristol Bears: Tries: Lindsay 17, Crane 56, Pincus 72, Lam 78. Cons: Madigan 56, 78

Northampton Saints: Tries: Grayson 7, van Wyk 10, 29, Mitchell 40, Marshall 48, Furbank 58, Kellaway 69. Cons: Grayson 29, 40, 48, Furbank 69. Pens: Grayson 20, 26.