- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, November 24th 2018
- Ricoh Arena
Will Carpenter reports from Ricoh Arena
Report: Wasps 32-28 Bristol Bears
Saturday, November 24th 2018
Bristol Bears were left to rue a lacklustre start to both halves at the Ricoh Arena, after Harry Thacker’s 24-minute hat-trick almost inspired a miraculous comeback in a 32-28 defeat to Wasps.
The hooker entered the game as a 47th-minute replacement with Bristol Bears trailing 32-7, after Ross Neal’s double and scores from Juan de Jongh and James Gaskell had put Wasps firmly in the driving seat.
But Thacker’s arrival had the desired impact for Pat Lam’s side, applying the finishing touches to a stunning break from Luke Morahan, before twice crashing over at the tail of well-worked driving lineouts to put Bristol within striking range of an unlikely win.
In the end, a fifth and winning score proved a bridge too far for the visitors, who left Coventry with two losing bonus-points to show for their efforts from a thrilling Gallagher Premiership clash.
Bristol were slow out of the blocks and quickly found themselves two tries down. First, Ross Neal shook off two tacklers to touch down on his Gallagher Premiership debut, then Juan de Jongh collected Josh Bassett’s offload to score a quick-fire second for the hosts.
Charles Piutau’s superb offload saw Ryan Edwards squeeze in the corner to get Bristol on the board, but Wasps responded with two Lima Sopoaga penalties to take an 18-7 lead into the break.
The second-half started much like the first for Pat Lam’s side, as James Gaskell sprinted in from 30 metres six minutes in, before Ross Neal grabbed his second after a slick pass from de Jongh on the right-hand side to fire Wasps into a 25-point lead.
Enter, Harry Thacker, with two tries in four minutes to thrust Bristol back into the contest.
Luke Morahan’s scything break and link-up with the supporting Callum Sheedy saw the hooker dive over for his first on 57 minutes. And the comeback was on four minutes later, as Thacker applied the finishing touches to a well-worked driving lineout to give Bears their third try.
A tense finale was in store as Thacker’s third, and Bristol’s fourth – a carbon copy - made it a four-point game with nine minutes on the clock. But as Bristol attacked from deep, Piers O’Conor was stripped of possession when attacking on the left flank, to bring another pulsating clash to a close.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O’Conor, Hurrell, Edwards (S Piutau 40); Sheedy (co-capt) (Madigan 57), Uren (Randall 53); Woolmore (Cosgrove 46), Malton (Thacker 47), Afoa (Thiede 76), Holmes (Joyce 71), Muldowney, Luatua (co-capt), D Thomas, Haining (Smith 46).
Replacements: Thacker, Cosgrove, Thiede, Joyce, Smith, Randall, Madigan, S Piutau.
Wasps: Miller, Neal, de Jongh, Le Bourgeois, Bassett, Sopoaga, Hampson; Harris, Cruse, Cooper-Woolley, Rowlands, Gaskell, Johnson (c), Young, Willis.
Replacements: Harris, West, Langley, Myall, Morris, Porter, Searle, Lovobalavu.
Wasps: Tries: Neal 4, 47, de Jongh 7, Gaskell 46. Cons: Sopoaga 7, 46, 47. Pens: Sopoaga 24, 36.
Bristol Bears: Tries: Edwards 15, Thacker 57, 61, 71. Cons: Sheedy 15, 57, Madigan 61, 71.
Two tries early in the first-half had put Bristol on the back foot, but it was a quick-fire double from Wasps early in the second-half that really proved decisive at the Ricoh Arena.
James Gaskell and Ross Neal scored just one minute apart to put Wasps firmly in the ascendency, and despite a spirited fightback, it proved too big a hurdle for Bristol to overcome.
But two losing bonus-points were reward for impressive showing in the final 30 minutes.
Man of the match: Harry Thacker
Three tries in 24 minutes and a game-changing impact from the pocket-rocket hooker.
Thacker entered the fray as a second-half replacement and wasted little time in making his mark, latching on to Sheedy's pass to score his first before orchestrating two well-worked driving lineout scores.
Photo of the match:
Social media posts of the game:
- Neal (2), De Jongh, Gaskell
- Sopoaga (3)
- Sopoaga (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Edwards, Thacker (3)
- Sheedy (2), Madigan (2)
- Yellow Cards: