Bristol Bears 30 Falcons 12

Friday 17 February 2023 Written by: Adam

The hosts led 15-7 at half-time, and it was they who drew first blood on ten minutes when a midfield dog-leg offered up the chance of a line-break on the 22. With the defensive line breached, scrum-half Harry Randall was on hand to accept the scoring pass.

Their lead lasted just five minutes as Newcastle bounced back impressively, earning a string of red-zone penalties which eventually saw Gary Graham powering over from close range in the left corner.

Brett Connon’s conversion from wide out put the men in green two in front, but the Bears struck back when Chris Vui reached out an arm to score a converted try from a tap penalty five metres out.

The visitors’ attempts to respond quickly gained momentum when their scrum dominance saw them kicking a penalty to the right corner, but their ambition to call a set play from the back of the resulting line-out saw the wet ball knocked on in contact.

Graham was held up over the try-line three minutes before the break from a Newcastle pick and go, and the Bears took a 15-7 lead with them into the changing rooms when Williams slotted a penalty from 30 metres out on the left.

The injury-enforced departures of Tom Penny and Mateo Carreras added further to the sense of frustration, and the deficit was extended to 15 points just two minutes after the resumption when Randall sniped over from the base of a ruck in the left corner.

Home wing Gabriel Ibitoye was sin-binned on 57 minutes for a deliberate knock-on as Newcastle searched for a foot-hold, and the extra man told when a line-out eight metres out saw Jamie Blamire break from the back of a maul to score in the right corner.

Connon’s touchline conversion bounced back off the post to leave the gap at ten points going into the closing quarter, and that became 13 when Williams sent over a long-range penalty for the Bears following offside at a defensive ruck.

Fitz Harding crossed for the bonus-point try with the last play from a charge-down, ensuring his side took the full five points.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Tom Penny (Alex Tait, 29, Sam Stuart, 72), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras (Tian Schoeman, 35), 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Logovi’i Mulipola, 52), 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison (Richard Palframan, 62), 4 Greg Peterson (Philip van der Walt, 62), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Callum Chick, 8 Carl Fearns (Freddie Lockwood, 52).

**Scorers -** Tries: Gary Graham, Jamie Blamire. Conversions: Brett Connon.

**Bristol Bears:** 15 Noah Heward, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall (Andy Uren, 79); 1 Jake Woolmore (Yann Thomas, 68), 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Max Lahiff (George Kloska, 68), 4 Joe Batley (Jake Heenan, 72), 5 Chris Vui (Ed Holmes, 64), 6 Steven Luatua (captain, Frank Davies, 75), 7 Fitz Harding, 8 Magnus Bradbury.

**Scorers -** Tries: Harry Randall 2, Chris Vui, Fitz Harding. Conversions: James Williams 2. Penalties: James Williams 2.

**Referee:** Karl Dickson. **Attendance:** 16,784.