Bristol Bears entertain with a seven-try win over Harlequins to stay in the play-off hunt

Bristol Bears continued their climb up the Premiership table with a 51-26 win over Harlequins at Ashton Gate on Sunday to move to seventh in the standings.

The Bears scored seven total tries with Harry Thacker and Charles Piutau both scoring braces and Gabriel Ibitoye, Semi Radradra and Harry Randall crossing the line. AJ MacGinty added 11 points off the tee before James Williams took over kicking responsibilities to add five points

Harlequins wing Jack Kenningham also scored a brace on short-range drives, while wingers Josh Bassett and Cadan Murley ensured the Ashton Gate visitors returned home with a bonus point of attack.

After four Premiership wins in a row, Bristol are now seven points out of the play-off places with one game less than their rivals. The harlequins sit eighth.

READ MORE: Bristol Bears 51-26 Harlequins LIVE: Full reaction of bonus points win at Ashton Gate

Reflecting on the upturn in form, Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam said: “I’m extremely pleased for the lads. We’ve won four Premiership games in a row, we’ve done the work to get there and we’ve been rewarded with 19 of a 20 points possible.

“This run has taken us into the Champions Cup zone, now we have a break and four more games, so we have a great chance to move into the top four and prepare for Europe.

“It’s a great win for us because we knew if we won we would be ahead of the Harlequins.

“We’ve been in this kind of knockout rugby scenario before when we’ve won the Challenge Cup. Being successful is making sure everyone is clear about our game plan and role and works hard.”

In recent years this game, between two of the Premiership’s great artists, has become something of a grudge match as Harlequins scuttled Lam’s ambitious plans for the club by coming back from 28-0 down in the semi-final. of the 2020/21 play-offs. -final to win 43-36 before lifting the trophy at Twickenham a week later.

The Bears have apparently been caught in an existential identity crisis ever since, but they seemed to have rediscovered their magic since the turn of the year.

The last meeting between the two sides, a 15-12 win for Bristol in the rain at the Stoop, was not without controversy with Harlequins prop Joe Marler later penalized for bringing the game into disrepute by insulting the ailing mother. Bears wing Jake Heenan.

Heading into the second leg, Lam made just one injury-forced change to his starting squad which recorded the club’s biggest Premier League win last weekend, beating Northampton 62-8, with winger Sam Jeffries departing side and former All Black Steven Luatua. entering to co-captain the side.

Harlequins boss Tabai Matson faced further disruption for his side who comprehensively beat play-off rivals Exeter Chiefs 40-5 at Twickenham last week in Big Game 14, losing man of the match and a half. Key opening Marcus Smith to England duty along with Joe Marchant, while young hooker Sam Riley came on front row for George Head.

With Smith away for England and second choice fly half Tommaso Allan on international duty with Italy, Will Edwards was given the number 10 shirt while Luke Northmore returned as outside centre.

From the start the game lived up to expectations as Bristol wasted little time to open the scoring with hooker Thacker turning from the side of a maul from a 5m lineout to spike the ball into the corner. But the lead was short-lived, as Kenningham dove into a ruck to finish from close range after sustained barrage from the visiting forwards.

The tries continued to flow in dry conditions at BS3 with Piutau unlocking the Londoners’ defense with a backhanded offload to Ibitoye, who sliced ​​down the left flank to run under the posts, celebrating before tipping against his ex. club.

Shortly after Siva Naulago had a try disallowed for a hit in the build-up while stripping the ball, but Bears fans only had to wait a couple of minutes to celebrate again as this time the Fijian winger he fooled the Harlequins defense with a dummy run to open a gap for Thacker, who finished an arcing run under the posts that began at the top of a 20m lineout.

On 24 minutes, the hosts had the attacking bonus point wrapped up when fly half MacGinty delayed a pass beautifully before hitting Radradra in a straight line that again ended under the posts.

Harlequins hit back with a good foray down the left wing, working an overlap to push Dino Lamb away along the touchline before the blocking went back inside despite Naulago’s cover attempt, to allow Bassett will finish the cutting move.

USA international MacGinty added a penalty to take his tally to 11 points before limping off shortly before halftime with a knee injury to be replaced by Sam Bedlow.

Bristol opened the scoring in the second half with a James Williams penalty kick. Kenningham then surged ahead from close range for their second match of the game before the Bears responded with an excellent purple patch to set the game off.

First, Randall broke through as a sharpshooter shortly before the Harlequins lost hooker Sam Riley in the sin bin to a high tackle. With the extra man, Piutau completed two wonderful 15-man attack moves to continue his rich rein on personal form.

Murley then intercepted a Sam Bedlow pass and ran from 80m to ensure his side returned to the M4 with at least one attacking bonus point for their efforts, as both teams headed into a weekend off.

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau, 14. Siva Naulago, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. James Williams, 11. Gabriel Ibitoye, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Harry Randall (co-captain); 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (co-captain), 7. Fitz Harding, 8. Magnus Bradbury.

replacements: 16. Bryan Byrne, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. George Kloska, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Ioan Lloyd.

Harlequins: 15. Nick David, 14. Cadan Murley, 13. Luke Northmore, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Will Edwards, 9. Danny Care, 1. Sin Baxter, 2. Sam Riley, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Dino Lamb, 5. Stephan Lewies (C), 6. Jack Kenningham, 7. James Chisholm, 8. Tom Lawday.

Replacements: 16. Jack Musk, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Will Collier, 19. Irne Herbst, 20. Luke Wallace, 21. Hayden Hyde 22. Scott Steele, 23. Oscar Beard.

Referee: Adam Leal (26th game of the Premiership).

Assistant referees: Joe James and Gareth Holsgrove.

BMT: David Rose.

dating officer: Duncan Bell.


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