Bears maul Dragons in Euro decider
CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: Bristol Bears ran in seven tries as they secured the first semifinal spot after a 56-17 success over Dragons at Ashton Gate on Friday.
Two tries in three minutes from flanker Ben Earl swung the momentum in the English side’s favour midway through the first half with Bristol looking comfortable after a shaky opening 20 minutes.
It was the Dragons who made a quick start and were soon 10-0 ahead after a Sam Davies three-pointer was followed by a superb cross-field kick from the fly-half who found Ashton Hewitt in space and he fended off Charles Piutau before dotting down.
But Bristol soon hit back after Tompkins didn’t find touch from inside his own 22 and his side were immediately punished by Piutau who split the defence and with a penalty advantage, spread from left to right before finding Nathan Hughes who sauntered over in the corner.
The English side then scored tries on 25 and 27 minutes to put them in the driving seat. First was a superb exchange between Piutau and Semi Radradra before breaking the line and finding Ben Earl who slid over the try line.
Earl then got his second in three minutes, this time after a fantastic Radradra step and offload released the flanker who stepped past Jordan Williams in devastating fashion before diving over the line.
Callum Sheedy – who scored a total of 21 points on the night – slotted over a three-pointer just before the break to put Bristol 24-10 up at the interval and the English side would take full control in the second period.
First, it was Sheedy who made a nice break and pulled off a lovely offload to Radradra who got the better of two Dragons defenders before dotting down in the corner.
A sniping score from the back of the ruck by Rhodri Williams gave Dragons hope but that was short-lived as Bristol exploited a tiring Dragons defence in the final 20 minutes.
Some clever play from flanker Dan Thomas opened the floodgates as he pinched the ball from the back of the Dragons breakdown and eventually found Chris Vui who swivelled and scored.
A minute later, an incisive breakaway down the right wing allowed Max Malins to grab a try before Thomas completed the scoring after a quick tap and offload gave the flanker the easiest of tries in the corner.
Bristol will face the winners of Bordeaux-Begles and Edinburgh Rugby, with that semifinal taking place next Friday.
Challenge Cup Man of the Match @BenEarlba reminded us all just how talented he is tonight 🙌
His delicious double helped @BristolBears to a wonderful victory at Ashton Gate 👏
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) September 18, 2020
For Bristol Bears
Tries: Hughes, Earl 2, Radradra, Vui, Malins, Thomas
Cons: Sheedy 6
Pens: Sheedy 3
Tries: Hewitt, William
Cons: Davies 2
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 Daniel Thomas, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Max Malins, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies , 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Harrison Keddie, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Joshua Reynolds, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Adam Warren.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Ian Tempest (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
Semi Radradra is something else… 🔥
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) September 19, 2020