Harlequins 28-53 Bristol: Bears thrash Quins on final day but not enough for Premiership play-off spot

Just shy: Bristol finished fifth in the Premiership (Getty Images)
Just shy: Bristol finished fifth in the Premiership (Getty Images)

Bristol Bears thrashed Harlequins but a 53-28 win at the Stoop was not enough to snatch a place in the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals.

Both Quins and Bears could have qualified with a bonus-point win, provided other results went their way on the final day, and it was Bristol who made that charge with seven tries in a thrilling clash.

But with Sale’s 20-10 victory at Saracens, there was nothing Bristol could do, as they had to settle for a fifth-place finish, with Harlequins in sixth.

Elsewhere, Bath were hugely impressive in a 40-12 win over table-toppers Northampton Saints, earning themselves a home semi-final clash against Sale. Saracens, through to the play-offs despite their final-day defeat, will travel to face Northampton on May 31.

At the Stoop, Pat Lam's side could not have wished for a better start, with former Quins academy graduate Gabriel Ibitoye racing clear down the left before James Williams went over after 55 seconds. Callum Sheedy converted from the touchline.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg limped off after the restart and Quins levelled when the departing Andre Esterhuizen burst through a hole before Chandler Cunningham-South went under the posts.

Ellis Genge crossed after some wonderful offloading by Bears created space and almost had a second, the score ruled out for an infringement by Harry Thacker. Instead, Quins levelled through Alex Dombrandt, with Marcus Smith converting from the touchline.

A loose ball in midfield then allowed Ibitoye to stretch his legs and run in a third to make it 21-14 to the visitors.

Genge and Sheedy departed in the same passage before the break, but Bears flew out of the blocks in the second half as Thacker dotted down with a customary maul score.

Harlequins roared back, bringing back memories of their famous 28-point turnaround in the semi-final meeting between these sides three years ago at Ashton Gate.

Luke Northmore showed brilliant footballing skills for their third try before Cunningham-South powered over for the bonus-point try to make it 28-26 to the hosts.

But a Williams penalty restored Bristol's lead and Max Lahiff then got over from close range. The momentum had swung definitively, Williams knocking over another penalty before Heward Heward finished a try made by a Max Malins break - the full-back impressing after shifting to fly-half.

Harlequins had nothing left to give and Bristol brought up a half-century of points with another maul try, this time through Gabriel Oghre.

Additional reporting by PA Sport.