Bristol Bears impress in victory over London Irish

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Bristol Bears grabbed their second win of the season in emphatic fashion following a scintillating display of attacking rugby to see off London Irish 45-33 at Brentford Community Stadium.

The visitors took the lead just after the 10-minute mark, Jake Heenan picking up from the back of a ruck and diving over from a yard out, but Callum Sheedy was unable to convert on this occasion.

They added to that score with two tries in quick succession, both Toby Fricker and Jack Bates taking offloads and sprinting through to cross the line untouched. Sheedy converted on both occasions to give the visitors a comfortable 19-0 lead just before the halfway mark of the opening period.

James Stokes managed to get the hosts on the scoreboard, after spinning the ball through the backs to the right wing, Stokes cut inside and barrelled over Fricker, although Paddy Jackson missed the conversion.

Poor discipline creeped into the Bristol side in the final stages of the half, Heenan, Charles Piutau and Andy Uren all sent to the sin-bin for a variety of infractions, leaving the home side with a three-man advantage as the half drew to a conclusion.

Irish made good use of the numbers in the final minute when hooker Mike Willemse had the ball thrown straight back to him following a lineout before racing over to cut the deficit, with Jackson this time making no mistake with the conversion to make the score 19-12 at the break.

Starting the half with a two-man advantage, Irish were on the board inside the opening 90 seconds, Matt Rogerson taking an offload from Tom Parton and sprinting over, with Jackson’s conversion bringing the scores level.

A high-tackle yellow card for Albert Tuisue made it 14 men each, and Piers O’Conor restored the visitors’ lead by fighting his way over the line from close range, with the try confirmed by TMO to secure a bonus point. Sheedy converted to push the lead to 26-19.

Harry Thacker made it a two-score lead, as he took an offload from Fitz Harding to score under the posts, with Sheedy adding the extras. Two Sheedy penalties extended the lead with less than 15 minutes to play.

A Terrence Hepetema try late on bagged the home side a bonus point but another Sheedy penalty calmed Bristol nerves, and while Kyle Rowe grabbed a final try for Irish, that proved little more than consolation.

There was still time for one final Sheedy penalty after time had expired to put the icing on the Bears’ victory.

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