All-action Bristol blow away 14-man Gloucester despite missing eight try-scoring chances

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All-action Bristol blow away 14-man Gloucester despite missing eight try-scoring chances - Getty Images 
All-action Bristol blow away 14-man Gloucester despite missing eight try-scoring chances - Getty Images

Bristol Bears 39 Gloucester 7

At times it felt like Bristol Bears attempted to squeeze more than a year’s worth of action into 80 minutes as their supporters returned to Ashton Gate for the first time since March 2020.

It was frantic, madcap and at times touched on the bizarre, but the crowd of 3,128 loved every minute as their side extended their lead at the top of the Premiership table with a victory laced with exhilarating play matched by a profligacy that prevented Pat Lam’s side from running up a cricket score.

At least eight try-scoring opportunities were squandered by Bristol but ultimately it mattered little.

Bristol were already proving to be an unstoppable force in the Premiership before the return of fans, now that the Ashton Gate is rocking again, with the club hoping to stage a crowd of over 9,000 for their title run-in, they look odds-on to reach the final at Twickenham on June 26.

The tries came from Max Malins, Charles Piutau, Ben Earl and Nathan Hughes and Semi Radradra to secure the bonus point, with Gloucester’s defiance peaking before the end of the first half with a try by Santiago Carreras, every piece of action roared on as if it was a World Cup final.

“I imagine all the other crowds will be like that - when we walked out it was like a shock, the noise, it was incredible what our fans did,” said Lam. “We talked about getting used to it, but it was great getting this under our belt. I think all the teams will go through that.

"I started getting a bit emotional when they came out, I'm getting soft, but it was so wonderful. It would be crazy if we don't finish top, I think we need one more win to secure that home semi-final.”

Gloucester’s chances of mounting an effective resistance went as early as the 16th minute when Matias Alemanno was sent off for a tackle that flipped Steven Luatua onto his head.

Two penalties by Callum Sheedy was scant reward for Bristol’s dominance from the opening, as Lam’s side sent the tone unleashing wave after wave of adventurous attacking play, with their only flaw their finishing, with just one try by Malins, to show for their efforts by the break.

Kyle Sinckler, Jake Kerr and Semi Radradra and Andy Uren all came close to scoring and even when Malins finished another scintillating move, Bristol’s fluffed chances continued.

Gloucester then rubbed salt into the wounds by scoring from a rare incursion into the Bristol 22, with carry by Jordy Reid and a magnificent pass by Billy Twelvetrees putting Santiago Carreras over before Piutau had the ball knocked out of his hands by Kyle Moyle as he glided over for what should have been another try.

The narrative continued after the break, with a seventh opportunity chalked off when Alapati Leiua went over only for the TMO to spot that Sheedy’s pass to Malins in the build-up had gone forward.

Gloucester could only ride their luck for so long, however, and a brilliant blindside break by Chris Vui created the opening for Piutau to dance his way over.

Piutau had yet another try ruled out when another knock-on was spotted but Bristol powered home with further tries by Earl, Nathan Hughes and Radradra.

“It was unbelievable, you can't quite realise how much you missed fans until they are here, it was amazing,” said Sheedy, who also kicked four conversions. “We weren't perfect and were far from clinical, but we are so happy to be back and with 3,000 fans which feels like 30,000.”

What a night.

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