Morahan double sees Bears maul Quins
PREMIERSHIP MATCH REPORT: A Luke Morahan first-half double ensured Bristol Bears claimed their fifth Premiership win on the bounce with a 28-15 triumph over Harlequins at Ashton Gate.
The kick-off was delayed after Quins arrived at BS3 late and the visitors made a sluggish start as Morahan opened the scoring within 50 seconds of the first whistle, with Callum Sheedy converting.
Sheedy and Brett Herron traded penalties before Aaron Morris crossed to close the gap to two points, but that was as near as Paul Gustard’s side got to their hosts.
Morahan added his second try before Chris Vui crashed over to give the Bears a commanding 25-8 lead at the break, with Sheedy adding a further penalty after the restart.
Quins continued to toil away in search of a way back into the game and grabbed a consolation through Gabriel Ibitoye, converted by Marcus Smith, in the final ten minutes to give them hope of a losing bonus-point.
Alex Dombrandt also went over with the clock in the red, only for his try to be ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up, as Bristol emerged victorious to move up to third in the league.
“It’s a good win for the boys,” Bristol Bears Director of Rugby Pat Lam said.
“I understand it’s our fifth win in a row which is really good for the fans but I was frustrated in that second half.
“I think both teams could be because there was a real opportunity to have a great game of rugby and unfortunately I don’t think we were really allowed to do that.
“It made it very difficult in that second half. We got the win but it was a missed opportunity to get that bonus point. The defeat to Leicester in January was a big turning point for us.
“We have put a lot of work in since then and taken on a lot of learnings, fair play to the whole squad, they’ve come back and we’ve worked really hard and we’re building.
“There was a call about being focused and let’s start well and we certainly did that. The boys can be proud as it was a great try to start the game and then we were in control for most of it.”
Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard said: “We conceded cheaply early doors after a brilliant offload from Steven Luatua down the right wing, we made a defensive error there.
“It was a soft try to concede so early in the game and the next one we exposed ourselves in the backfield while the third one was a brilliant offload that they managed to recover and dot down.
“We had three or four offloads 10 metres from their line but none went to hand, or we were pulled back for a forward pass or a knock on, and we weren’t able to convert those chances.
“For me, particularly in the second half, we had 65 per cent possession and 59 per cent territory in their final third but we only had one try to show for it so we weren’t clinical enough.
“We weren’t accurate enough with our attack today and when you play a team like Bristol, a dangerous attacking team, we defended outstanding but we made one mistake like we did early doors and you concede.”
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Morahan 2, Vui
Cons: Sheedy 2
Pens: Sheedy 3
Tries: Morris, Ibitoye
Yellow card: Henry Purdy (Bristol Bears, 38)
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Chris Vui, 3 John Afoa, 2 Will Capon, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ioan Lloyd.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Luke Northmore, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Paul Lasike, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Glen Young, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Will Evans, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Francis Saili.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson & Peter Allan.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.