Bristol Bears go top after second-half comeback stuns Exeter Chiefs

Charlie Morgan
The Telegraph
Luke Morahan breaks for Bristol Bears, who scored 20 unanswered second-half points - CameraSport
Luke Morahan breaks for Bristol Bears, who scored 20 unanswered second-half points - CameraSport
  • Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 20

5:14PM

'Start again, take a breath, build a score, be there at the end'

<span>Credit: CameraSport </span>
Credit: CameraSport

 Pat Lam outlines what he said at half-time.

5:12PM

'The lack of composure we showed is beyond me'

<span>Credit: CameraSport </span>
Credit: CameraSport

Rob Baxter says Exeter did a lot of "stupid" stuff in that second half and now they must go to La Rochelle "fighting".

5:05PM

Table-toppers

Bristol leap-frog Northampton Saints with that phenomenal second-half comeback. 

They were 17-0 down at the break! Twenty unanswered points for Pat Lam's men. Amazing.

5:04PM

Full-time | Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 20

5:02PM

Try, Dan Thomas! Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 20, 80 minutes

Stunning. Will Capon, the 20 year-old Premiership debutant, nails a throw to the tail and the maul gathers steam.

It heads over the line and Thomas is the man at the bottom. Sheedy lands the conversion for good measure.

4:56PM

TMO

Wow. Bristol are over the line from a maul that chewed up 20 metres...

4:53PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 79 minutes     

Nathan Hughes gets over the ball and earns one last chance for Bristol by winning a holding-on penalty.

Kirsten then obstructs Bristol's Dan Thomas...another penalty. Bristol are in the Exeter 22.

4:50PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 77 minutes    

Bristol return the favour. Now Piers O'Conor chucks the ball into touch.

4:49PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 76 minutes   

A very rusty pass from Jack Nowell sails well beyond any teammates and  into touch.

4:47PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 74 minutes  

Six minutes left. Bristol clear from their own 22 over halfway.

4:46PM

Match action

Here goes Luke Morahan again.

<span>Credit: CameraSport </span>
Credit: CameraSport

4:44PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 72 minutes 

Bristol stretch Exeter on both flanks before Sheedy's chip surrenders possession. Exeter then get the penalty as Nathan Hughes is trapped over the ball.

4:38PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 69 minutes

Chiefs force a scrum penalty - they would be in trouble without that dominance today - and go to touch.

Matt Kvesic has been sacrificed for Jack Maunder as Rob Baxter opts to get a specialist scrum-half on the field. 

4:35PM

Try, Piers O'Conor! Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 13, 66 minutes

Exeter are in danger of throwing this away. A really loose period featuring errors from both teams ends with Nathan Hughes flipping a pass to Morahan, who breaks around Nowell  and feeds O'Conor on the inside.

The conversion is easy for Sheedy. Now then...

4:31PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 6, 62 minutes

Jack Nowell's first contribution is an excellent one. He jumps to gather a cross-field kick above his head under pressure from two chasers.

Nowell calls for a mark then bangs a kick down-field that skips into touch.

4:29PM

Yellow card, Nic White!

Exeter's scrum-half receives a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on. Bristol go quickly...

4:27PM

Penalty, Callum Sheedy! Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 6, 59 minutes

Superb kick from Sheedy.

4:26PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 59 minutes    

Slade misses touch from a penalty and Charles Piutau clears. He does not find touch, but Pier O'Conor hits Hogg extremely hard on the follow-up and Bristol win a breakdown penalty.

4:23PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 55 minutes   

Hughes spills so Chiefs get the put-in but it's really mess and Bristol muscle a turnover. Kvesic makes a nuisance of himself a few phases later, though, and it's another scrum to the hosts.

Huge cheers roll away Sandy Park. Jack Nowell is on for Sam Hill. 

4:18PM

View from the dugout

4:18PM

No try

Fantastic tackle from Luatua.

4:17PM

TMO

Has Alex Cuthbert scored from Stuart Hogg's pass? Steven Luatua was covering across...

4:16PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 50 minutes  

Uncharacteristically inaccurate from Chiefs. They cough up possession two metres out. Randall scrambles a clearance into touch.

4:14PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 48 minutes 

Chiefs force a scrum penalty. You will have heard this next bit before. They are going to the corner...

4:11PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 43 minutes

Jonny Hill tears up and smashes Sheedy in the shadow of Bristol's posts but Hepburn is penalised for an overeager clear-out.

4:09PM

Penalty, Callum Sheedy! Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 3, 43 minutes

Nice kick from Sheedy. Bristol are off the mark.

4:08PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 0, 42 minutes

Far more encouraging for Bristol. Thomas and Randall combine to make ground and play comes back for a penalty for Nic White's deliberate knock-on.

Callum Sheedy is lining up a kick at goal.

4:05PM

Second half

Two changes for Bristol. Dan Thomas replaces Jake Heenan and John Afoa gives way for Lewis Thiede.

4:01PM

Match action

<span>Credit: Getty Images Europe </span>
Credit: Getty Images Europe

Luke Morahan has been Bristol's brightest player so far. He has beaten five Exeter defenders so far.

3:50PM

Half-time | Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 0

Bristol's lineout fails to function again. Exeter gather and clear to touch. That's the end of the first half.

3:49PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 0, 39 minutes 

Bristol are looking for something on the verge of half-time. Morahan skates across the field. From the next phase, Sam Simmonds creeps offside.

3:45PM

Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 0, 37 minutes

A long period of possession for Exeter ends with Nathan Hughes bundling Henry Slade into touch.

3:40PM

Stunning score

3:39PM

Match action

Piers O'Conor attempts to escape from Siale Piutau.

<span>Credit: Getty Images Europe </span>
Credit: Getty Images Europe

3:37PM

Penalty, Joe Simmonds! Exeter Chiefs 17 Bristol Bears 0, 32 minutes

Easy kick for Simmonds junior.

3:37PM

Exeter Chiefs 14 Bristol Bears 0, 31 minutes

Dave Attwood is penalises for a clattering tackle on Jack Yeandale, who was only a decoy. Exeter will aim to take the points this time.

3:33PM

Exeter Chiefs 14 Bristol Bears 0, 30 minutes  

The hosts muscle a scrum penalty and hit touch inside Bristol's 22. They are mauling...

3:31PM

Exeter Chiefs 14 Bristol Bears 0, 27 minutes 

Thacker saves Bristol again. His counter-ruck helps his side win a penalty.

That sums up Bristol's first half-hour, though. They mess up the ensuing lineout.

3:28PM

Exeter Chiefs 14 Bristol Bears 0, 25 minutes

Luke Morahan sparks Bristol with a mazy run that beats a number of Chefs tacklers. However, the attack loses momentum and Matt Kvesic is over the ball to win a penalty.

3:25PM

Try, Nic White! Exeter Chiefs 14 Bristol Bears 0, 23 minutes

What a try. Exeter nab the lineout and move the ball quickly to their right edge. The Simmonds brothers move the ball to Slade, who flicks on to Hogg. Tom O' Flaherty tears down the flank.

The ball moves in-field and then White snipes back against the grain to score. Joe Simmonds converts. Exeter look in the mood to cause serious trouble here.

3:21PM

Exeter Chiefs 7 Bristol Bears 0, 20 minutes 

Excellent from Harry Thacker. Slade cuts a short line but Bristol's hooker jackals to force a penalty.

3:20PM

Exeter Chiefs 7 Bristol Bears 0, 18 minutes

Big let-off for Bristol. Hogg's excellent grubber skids into space and holds up on the five-metre line.

Charles Piutau covers and carries into touch, giving Chiefs a five-metre lineout...but they mess it up. Dave Attwood wrecks the maul.

3:18PM

Match action

Here's Henry Slade making a low tackle on powerful opposite man Will Hurrell.

<span>Credit: Getty Images Europe </span>
Credit: Getty Images Europe

3:17PM

Try, Sam Simmonds! Exeter Chiefs 7 Bristol Bears 0, 15 minutes

Slade goes extremely close from the base of a ruck, jinking past Harry Thacker to within a metre of the line. A couple of picks and shunts later, Sam Simmonds powers over. His brother Joe adds the extras.

3:15PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 13 minutes     

Steven Luatua is penalised for hooking the arm of Exeter jumper Jannes Kirsten. Chiefs hit the corner...

3:12PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 11 minutes    

Has Slade scored? No. Alec Hepburn knocked on while rushing up to tackle Callum Sheedy. 

3:09PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 9 minutes   

Chris Vui steals the lineout for Bristol. Superb spring from the Samoa lock.

3:09PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 8 minutes  

More scruffiness, but this time it comes from an excellent defensive read from Bristol centre Will Hurrell, who pressurises Joe Simmonds after running past the decoy line of Henry Slade.

Matt Kvesic spills a few minutes later when Exeter attempt a bounce-back move but Jack Yeandle saves his side with a breakdown turnover. Slade whacks to touch.

3:05PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 4 minutes 

Messy from Nathan Hughes. Bristol get another put-in as Exeter fail to deal with Harry Randall's box-kick.

The visitors then earn a free-kick for an early shove, but Hughes gaffes the tap and knocks on.

3:04PM

Meanwhile at the Madejski

3:03PM

Exeter Chiefs 0 Bristol Bears 0, 2 minutes

Encouraging start from Exeter. Hogg gets the ball in his hands down the blindside and beats another man. Jonny Hill hits a good angle in midfield a few phases later.

There is a knock-on on the edge of Bristol's 22, though, so the Bears will feed the first scrum.

3:01PM

Kick-off

Here we go then! Exeter fly-half Joe Simmonds gets us underway with a clip down-field. 

Bristol gather and Harry Randall box-kicks down-field to Stuart Hogg, who beats a defender with a lively counter.

2:55PM

Referee

Karl Dickson is in charge today.

<span>Credit: Getty Images Europe </span>
Credit: Getty Images Europe

2:52PM

Ten minutes to kick-off

Conditions have stayed fair. It's crisp and still - especially so for Sandy Park. Here come the players.

We will have a minute's silence before kick-off to mark Armistice Day tomorrow.

2:47PM

Movember

Some staggering facial hair among the Bristol players here.

2:42PM

Twenty minutes to go

Kick-off is getting closer. Here is Bristol full-back Charles Piutau. His positional head-to-head with Stuart Hogg has the potential to be absolutely brilliant.

2:40PM

'We have to focus on ourselves'

<span>Credit: CameraSport </span>
Credit: CameraSport

Rob Baxter says the best way to respond to a turbulent week is to deliver a performance.

Interestingly, he says that his World Cup contingent are ready to go and that Exeter would be "running away from a decision" if they rested Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Nowell - as well as Australia scrum-half Nic White.

He wants to see where they are now and organise a break for them later. 

2:31PM

Jack is back

Jack Nowell had precisely 12 minutes of game-time during the Rugby World Cup. He'll be itching to join the fray from Exeter's bench.

<span>Credit: Getty Images Europe </span>
Credit: Getty Images Europe

2:28PM

Behind the scenes

That is an exceptional Exeter back row.

2:24PM

As they stand

After three fixtures yesterday, then, this is what the table looks like. You can see why today is so intriguing.

2:19PM

'These guys are 11 or 12 years in the making'

A typically interesting interview from Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam, who says that Exeter have built up cohesion over the past few years and  'work a certain way to try and fatigue you'.

He also points out that this will let him know where the Bears are as a team.

2:17PM

Reminder of the teams

2:11PM

Conditions...

...look fine for now. We have about 50 minutes until kick-off.

<span>Credit: CameraSport </span>
Credit: CameraSport

2:09PM

Hello!

Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of this Premiership encounter between Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears. It’s a south west regional derby – there are plenty of those in this competition now – and should be a compelling game.

Of course, the unavoidable story of this week in English domestic rugby has revolved around Saracens and the salary cap. Having lost to Mark McCall’s side in the last two Premiership finals, Exeter have more reason than most to feel aggrieved.

<span>Credit: PA </span>
Credit: PA

This is what Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said earlier this week:

“We’ve actually just cleared the decks a little bit in our meeting today. I just sat in front of all the players and said ‘What do you think of all this salary cap stuff?’

“At first, they all looked at me a bit strangely, but I know they’ve all been talking about it and I know they will all feel differently about it all.

“Some will feel sorry for themselves as they think things haven’t been all that fair. Others will be angry and others will be looking forward to playing Saracens again.

“Across the board, there are all kinds of emotions, but what I’ve just said to them all is let’s make sure we clarify what we are all about. We are a club that have an important Premiership game this Sunday. We’ve worked very hard to be here and this is what should occupy all of our energy.

“As I said to them all, I think it’s good not to run away from interesting conversations the lads are going to have among themselves, simply because by doing that it now allows us to get out and train really well for Bristol.”

It will be extremely interesting to gauge the reaction of the hosts at Sandy Park, because Bristol will not die wondering.

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