Bristol Bears' stuttering start to season continues as Newcastle grind out another win

·3-min read
Callum Chick dives over to score the first try during Newcastle's win over Bristol Bears - GETTY IMAGES
Callum Chick dives over to score the first try during Newcastle's win over Bristol Bears - GETTY IMAGES

Newcastle 13-5 Bristol

Bristol's concerning early-season malaise shows no sign of abating as they succumbed to a fourth defeat in five games, the worst run of Pal Lam's otherwise largely immaculate four-year reign.

"It's not where you start, it's where you finish," insisted the director of rugby, seemingly almost trying to convince himself after seeing his side lose as many games by mid-October as they did in the entirety of last season.

Having ground out a low-scoring victory over Wasps here last time out, points were again at a premium, though the spectacle was no less enthralling for it as Newcastle deservedly emerged victorious for the third time in five outings, thankful that Ioan Lloyd failed to bring his kicking boots.

Lam refused to use the Bears' mounting injury concerns as an excuse, and after seeing his side again struggle to pose a serious attacking threat for lengthy spells, the former Falcons favourite added: "We've come to the end of the first stage of the campaign and we haven't got anywhere near the number of wins we wanted.

"We created opportunities but didn't take them and individual errors have cost us. We'll have a bit of a break and it's all about how we bounce back."

Pat Lam has some thinking to do having watched his Bristol side slide to their fourth defeat from five this season - GETTY IMAGES
Pat Lam has some thinking to do having watched his Bristol side slide to their fourth defeat from five this season - GETTY IMAGES

Callum Chick further pressed his claims to add to his two summer caps in England's up-coming autumn internationals when the Falcons back row belatedly opened the scoring with 90 seconds remaining of a bruising first-half thanks to a pick and go next to the posts which oozed international class.

Brett Connon added the extras to ensure the sides were separated by seven points at the interval, though it was honours even when it came to them both eschewing the wearing of tights despite the new directive allowing protective leggings for male players given fears of excessive wear and tear on artificial surfaces such as Kingston Park.

The visitors' only try arrived midway through the second-half as they exploited a numerical advantage after Connon received a yellow card for a try-saving deliberate knock on to halt a swift break by Callum Sheedy. Alapati Leiua used all his pace and power to finish-off Harry Randall's break in the left corner, but Lloyd was wayward with his conversion attempt and a subsequent penalty.

Connon showed him how it should be done when twice extending his side's advantage in the final 11 minutes to put the gloss on a deserved victory, back-to-back ones on home soil secured with a modest tally of 31 points. "We'd probably have wanted one more victory at this stage," reflected Newcastle's director of rugby Dean Richards. "But we'll take three from five."

Match details

Scores: 5-0 Chick try; 7-0 Connon con; 7-5 Leiua try; 10-5 Connon pen; 13-5 Connon pen;

Newcastle Falcons: M Brown; A Radwan, B Stevenson, M Wright (G Wacokecoke 63), M Carreras; B Connon, L Schreuder (C Nordli Kelemeti 67); A Brocklebank (K Cooper 67), G McGuigan (J Blamire 67), T Davison (R Palframan 56), G Paterson, G Merrick (W Montgomery 60), C Chick, W Welch, C Fearns (G Graham 56).

Yellow card: Connon

Bristol Bears: I Lloyd (T Whiteley 76); T Fricker, J Bates, A Frisch, A Leiua; C Sheedy (C Powell 54), H Randall; Y Thomas (M Lahiff 57), J Kerr (H Thacker 57), K Sinckler (J Afoa 57), D Attwood, J Joyce, S Jeffries, D Thomas (J Heenan 67), F Harding.

Referee: Christophe Ridley

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