Bears and Exiles share the spoils
MATCH REPORT: A last-gasp Stephen Myler penalty broke Bristol Bears’ hearts and salvaged a 27-all draw in an entertaining battle at Ashton Gate.
In a tight first-half Bristol fullback Charles Piutau was the standout attacking spark, winning a penalty on the half-hour mark which Callum Sheedy converted to give the Bears the lead.
RECAP: Bristol Bears v London Irish
The home side were dominating possession and looked closest to scoring at Ashton Gate, but it was London Irish who unexpectedly went in 7-3 in front at the break after Ben Meehan crossed the whitewash.
It didn’t take long for the Bears to regain their lead, however, with Nathan Hughes crashing over in the corner just five minutes into the second period to put them 8-7 up.
🔙 in front.
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) December 1, 2019
It was back and forth again as Irish hit back through a Stephen Myler penalty, but Piutau showed his attacking threat once more, racing across after a scintillating move to make it 15-10.
Waisake Naholo dotted down to put the visitors back in front, but the Bears bounced back once more, Ed Holmes beating three defenders to crash over for 20-17.
Tom Parton must have thought he had grabbed the winner for Irish on 74 minutes but Bears hooker Harry Thacker went over three minutes later thinking he had wrapped up victory for the hosts, before another penalty from Myler meant both teams were to settle for a draw.
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Hughes, Piutau, Holmes, Thacker
Cons: Sheedy, Lloyd
For London Irish:
Tries: Meehan 2, Parton
Cons: Myler 3
Pens: Myler 2
Yellow card: John Afoa (Bristol Bears, 72)
Red card: Oli Hoskins (London Irish, 40)
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Toby Fricker, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Joyce, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Alapati Leiua.
London Irish: 15 Paddy Jackson, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Tom Stephenson, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 TJ Ioane, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tom Parton
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Paul Dix.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.