Radradra puts Bristol into 'special' Final
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: Fiji’s Semi Radradra was instrumental as “special” Bristol Bears overcame his former side Bordeaux-Begles 37-20 after extra-time to reach the Final.
Radradra joined the English outfit over the summer after the French side failed to match the Bears’ financial offer.
Radradra’s side, known for their expansive play coached by ex-Samoa captain Pat Lam, will face the winner of Toulon’s match against Leicester taking place on Saturday for the October 16 fixture in their first continental final.
“It’s special. I’m very grateful and blessed to be in the finals right now,” the Bears’ captain Steven Luatua said.
“We live and die by the sword. The first 20 wasn’t really going our way but I think all in all with extra time it worked in our favour. We tried to run them around the park and eventually we scored in extra time,” he added.
The visitors’ early dominance was underlined as Matthieu Jalibert dived over in the corner after a sublime individual effort after quarter of an hour.
The France flyhalf then kicked two penalty goals before the 30-minute mark before the Bears’ 35 minute blitz.
Two minutes before the break ex-All Blacks flanker Luatua made the most of some Radradra magic in open play and the hosts trailed 13-7 at the break after Callum Sheedy’s touchline conversion.
Radradra was shown a yellow card on the 43-minute mark for a high tackle but the Bears continued to control the play and full-back Max Malins’ converted effort put his side into a 14-13 lead.
Sheedy, who is eligible to play internationally for England, Ireland and his native Wales, stretched the lead to make his 20-13 with 17 minutes to play.
Substitute flyhalf Benjamin Botica missed the chance to cut the deficit less than 60 seconds later but took the game into extra time.
Botica converted Joseph Dweba’s 67th minute try to make it 20-all and neither side was able to find the winning points in normal time.
Competition rules stipulate if a team scores more tries than their opponents during the 100 minutes of regular and extra time then there would be no need for a penalty shoot out if scores remained equal after the extra 20 minutes.
The hosts started the extra period on fire as Piers O’Conor crossed after 48 seconds following Radradra’s powerful midfield carry.
Malins claimed his second of proceedings eight minutes later and Sheedy’s extras made it 34-20.
For Bristol Bears
Tries: Luatua, Malins 2, O’Conor
Cons: Sheedy 4
Pens: Sheedy 3
For Bordeaux Begles
Tries: Jalibert, Dweba
Cons: Lucu, Botica
Pens: Jalibert 2
Bristol: 15 Max Malins, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 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 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Piers O’Conor
Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Ulupano Seuteni, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Jandré Marais, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (c)
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Lekso Kaulashvili, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Pablo Uberti
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce, Tom Foley
TMO: Stuart Terheege