Bristol's second-half blitz down Falcons
PREMIERSHIP MATCH REPORT: Bristol Bears produced a stunning second-half comeback to defeat Newcastle Falcons in front of more than 18,000 fans at Ashton Gate in the Premiership Rugby.
Tries from Harry Randall, Charles Piutau, Luke Morahan and Tom Pincus ensured Pat Lam’s men picked up a vital 35-28 bonus-point victory against the league’s bottom side.
Newcastle had lead the way at the break following first-half tries from Vereniki Goneva and Callum Chick, but Bears roared back in the second half to finish 2018 in style.
The victory means Bristol have moved six points clear of Worcester Warriors and Newcastle, who will begin the new year bottom of the table with three wins from 11 games.
Bristol got off to a dream start when Harry Randall combined with Luke Morahan to cross the whitewash with just a minute on the clock, with Ian Madigan adding the extras.
Newcastle responded with a penalty on nine minutes as Toby Flood split the posts, before the visitors took to the front with a pick-and-go try scored by Goneva.
Flood added the extras before kicking a further penalty to increase Newcastle’s lead to 13-7, but Madigan hit back with a penalty of his own to cut the gap back to three.
The home side suffered a blow just before the break, though, when Chick barrelled over the whitewash and Flood kicked the extras to put Newcastle 20-10 up at the interval.
However, in a repeat of the first half, Bristol came out firing after the restart and soon had their second try when Piutau darted over following an offload from Madigan.
The Irish international kicked the conversion to reduce the deficit to three again, before Morahan latched on to a pass from Harry Thacker pass to cross in the corner.
Madigan was unable to add the extras, but he made amends with a penalty just before the hour to increase Bristol’s lead to 25-20 with just over 20 minutes left to play.
But the drama was far from over. Birthday boy Adam Radwan showed his pace to run on to a clever grubber from Flood to dot down and level the scores, with Flood unable to convert.
Replacement fly-half Callum Sheedy restored Bristol’s advantage with a penalty on 70 minutes after the Falcons, but Flood cancelled it out with one of his own soon after.
Ed Holmes then came off the bench for a match-winning cameo, making a 30-metre break before the ball is thrown wide to Pincus to score on his first Premiership start.
Sheedy landed the tricky conversion to seal victory as the Ashton Gate faithful celebrated a huge five points with a huge rendition of The Wurzels’ Drink Up Thy Zider.
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Randall, Piutau, Morahan, Pincus
Cons: Madigan, Sheedy
Pens: Madigan 2, Sheedy
For Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Goneva, Chick, Radwan
Cons: Flood 2
Pens: Flood 3
Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau (co-captain), 11 Tom Pincus, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Jordan Crane (co-captain), 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Chris Vui, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 George Smith, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Piers O’Conor.
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Michael Young, 8 Callum Chick, 7 John Hardie, 6 Will Welch (captain), 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Calum Green, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Sami Mavinga.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 David Wilson, 19 Andrew Davidson, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Tom Arscott.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Anthony Woodthorpe.
TMO: David Rose.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) December 30, 2018