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Bristol and Bath serve up brilliantly bonkers 101-point match

layers of Bath Rugby celebrate after Rich Lane scores a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby - Who needs player mics? Bristol and Bath serve up brilliantly bonkers 101-point match
Bristol let their attacking instincts loose as they thrilled on the way to a brilliant win over Bath - Getty Images/Alex Panting

Bristol Bears 57 Bath Rugby 44

In these parts there is nothing better than a pint of cider to celebrate – and how Bristol Bears will toast this special victory against their nearest and dearest.

On a day where defence was seemingly optional for much of the afternoon, it was the Bears who took the spoils in a contest that yielded 14 tries in total.

This game was seemingly bonkers at times, producing more than 100 points in a Premiership tussle for the first time in 22 years. The hosts were involved the last time it went to three figures – 53-47 against Sale – but this was something else in terms of entertainment for the masses.

Pre-game the talk had been about how the sport was entering a new age of entertainment with Bristol flanker Steven Luatua wearing the new “player mic”. That innovation may take a while to reach its true merits, rather than the latest TV gimmick it appeared on debut, but it is the on-field action that took centre stage here.

Bristol head coach Lam rightly praised his side at the final whistle, insisting it was a “huge win” in the context of their season – and it was one which had been inspired by the club’s owner, Steve Lansdown.

“A couple of weeks ago I caught up with Steve and he said, ‘Pat, when you first came you got me excited about the game and the way we played’ and he just encouraged me to tell the boys to go out and play the Bears way. We talked about that as a team and really focused on playing what is in front of us.

“We knew we would make some mistakes, but we just kept coming and what happened out there, don’t get me wrong, I would love a 50-0 scoreline, but that’s part of the way it will go and we knew Bath would come back at us, which they did.”

Magnus Bradbury of Bristol bears scores a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby
Bristol just managed to hold out in the second half - Getty Images/Alex Panting

High-flying Bath started brightly enough, taking the lead inside two minutes when Finn Russell’s cross-field kick found Joe Cokanasiga to score in the corner. What followed, however, was a whirlwind response from the Bears, who had the try bonus point wrapped up inside the opening quarter.

Will Capon levelled things up when he rumbled over from a close-range line-out, before fellow forward Joe Batley was able to finish off a scintillating move between Richard Lane and Harry Randall.

Bristol made the most of yellow cards for Bath duo Jaco Coetzee and Louis Schreuder to add further scores for AJ MacGinty and Noah Heward.

Bath, minus a glut of key names due to international call-ups and injuries, were seemingly all at sea. The Bears were running riot at Ashton Gate, making the most of some poor defending from the visitors, who needed a response of sorts quickly.

Hooker Tom Dunn got driven over from close range to halt the home charge, only for centre James Williams to pick a gap wider than the lanes on the nearby Clifton Suspension Bridge to restore Bristol’s grip on proceedings.

The second half began, much in the same vein as the first, Bath striking inside two minutes as Tom de Glanville finished off strong approach work from winger Cokanasiga.

Tom de Glanville scores a try
Tom de Glanville made sure he got on the scoresheet in a game overflowing with tries - Getty Images/Bob Bradford

Again, though, Bristol’s riposte was swift, Fitz Harding forging his way over for a converted score, before the trading of tries continued aplenty with Coetzee crossing for Bath only for Magnus Bradbury to do likewise at the other end.

Bath’s hold on the game was growing and with the Bears now falling foul of the officials, Luatua and Heward would both see yellow in quick succession, it was the visitors who were prospering as first Thomas du Toit, then a penalty try set up a grandstand finale.

As the decibel levels increased, so too did the Bears as they landed a crucial penalty through MacGinty to keep Bath still at arm’s length. The visitors, however, would not go quietly as Russell pulled them back to within six points with a penalty of his own with just a handful of minutes remaining.

With the clock edging into the final minute, it was now or never for Bath in their quest to glean a first win at Ashton Gate since 2008. They went left, then right, before the ball was fed back to Russell. The Scottish international, so often the Harry Potter of on-field wizardry, looked to go cross-field again, but this time his kick was plucked from the night sky by Lane, who needed no second invitation to race over and seal the win.

Match details

Scoring Sequence: Cokanasiga Try 0-5, Capon Try 5-5, Batley Try 10-5, McGinty Con 12-5, Russell Pen 12-8, McGinty Try 17-8, McGinty Con 19-8, Heward Try 24-8, McGinty Con 26-8, Dunn Try 26-13, Russell Con 26-15, Williams Try 31-15, McGinty Con 33-15, De Glanville Try 33-20, Harding 38-20, McGinty 40-20, Coetzee Try 40-25, Russell Con 40-27, Bradbury Try 45-27, McGinty 47-27, du Toit Try 47-32, Russell Con 47-34, Penalty Try 47-41, McGinty Pen 50-41, Russell Pen 50-44, Lane Try 55-44, van Rensburg Con 57-44
Bristol: R Lane; N Heward, B Janse van Rensburg, J Williams (V Vakatawa 67), G Ibitoye; AJ MacGinty (S Naulago 78), H Randall (K Marmion 78); J Woolmore (M Lahiff 40), W Capon (F Davies 28), K Sinckler (S Grahamslaw 62); J Dun (J Heenan 78), J Batley; S Luatua, F Harding (c), M Bradbury (J Caulfield 59).
Yellow Cards: Luatua, Heward
Bath: T de Glanville; J Cokanasiga, C Redpath, W Butt, M Gallagher; F Russell, L Schreuder (T Carr-Smith 65); J Schoeman (A Griffin 46), T Dunn (N Annett 53), T du Toit; E Stooke, Q Roux (J Bayliss 52); GJ van Velze (c, C Cloete 53), M Reid (McInally 67), J Coetzee. Replacements: A Cordwell, O Bailey.
Yellow Cards: Coetzee, Schreuder
Referee: I Tempest
Attendance: 26,387

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