Bears edge Saints with last-gasp Bedlow kick
MATCH REPORT: A last-minute penalty kick by Sam Bedlow made sure Bristol Bears record a narrow 18-17 win over Northampton Saints on Friday.
The result is Northampton Saints’ ninth consecutive Premiership defeat, and the 14th loss of their last 16 matches.
David Ribbans and Piers Francis scored early tries for Northampton Saints with James Grayson converting both and adding a second-half penalty.
Henry Purdy and Piers O’Conor went over for Bristol Breard. Bedlow converted one and he, along with Tiff Eden, slotted over penalties – including the final kick of the match which earned the hosts victory.
Bristol should have taken a first-minute lead after the visitors had bungled the Bears’ kick-off. Eden, a last-minute call-up at flyhalf, made a neat break but after the ball was recycled, scrumhalf Andy Uren elected to go it alone and was swallowed up when a simple pass would have resulted in a try.
Saints soon made their opponents pay when, after strong runs from Tom Wood and Api Ratuniyarawa, Ribbans brushed aside two tacklers to run 30 metres and score an excellent individual try.
Northampton stunned the hosts by scoring a second when a clever kick ahead from Grayson was collected by Francis, who dashed in ahead of two indecisive covering defenders to score, 14-0.
Bristol responded with a brilliantly executed three-quarter move which ended with Purdy evading Matt Proctor’s tackle to score.
Saints lost Francis and Reece Marshall to failed head injury assessments, and Bristol took advantage of the disruption to reduce the arrears with a simple penalty from Eden.
Grayson kicked a penalty to give his side some breathing space.
However, Bristol Bears started their late surge as O’Conor won the race to touchdown a clever chip ahead from scrumhalf Randall to earn Bristol a lifeline.
Bedlow converted and then, with time up, he knocked over a 45-metre penalty to break Saints hearts after Ehren Painter had been penalised for a deliberate knock-on.
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Purdy, O’Conor
Pens: Eden, Bedlow
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Robbans, Francis
Cons: Grayson 2
Bristol Bears: 15 Henry Purdy, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau (captain), 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Sam Bedlow, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Jake Heenan, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Toby Fricker
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Piers Francis, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Reece Marshall, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal & Roy Maybank.
TMO: David Rose.
Source: @SkySports & @PremRugby