Harry Randall dazzles for Bristol Bears in resounding win over Scarlets

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Harry Randall dazzles for Bristol Bears in resounding win over Scarlets - PA
Harry Randall dazzles for Bristol Bears in resounding win over Scarlets - PA

Scarlets 21 Bristol Bears 52

Pat Lam claimed Bristol will be serious contenders for club rugby’s most prestigious trophy if they become even more ruthless.

The Bears’ director of rugby was in bullish mood having seen his team produce a destructive finish to the game in Wales where they swamped Scarlets with a flood of late tries.

Harry Randall and Kyle Sinckler signed off for England duty by inspiring the West Country men to a bonus-point win with eight tries. The Champions Cup victory helps boost Bristol’s rankings to third, although they will be overtaken by Munster if they manage a bonus-point win over Wasps on Sunday.

Lam, who has seen enough of his team’s improvement to believe they are strong enough to compete for the big trophies, said: “I was pleased with the final 20 minutes as before that it was quite frustrating and we were our own worst enemies. But once we control the ball, we show we are a dangerous side. We now have a long break before the next European phase but it is fair to say we are serious contenders, but only if we can be more ruthless.

“We can become a better team and be stronger when we come back into it in April.”

Bristol had the luxury of knowing they had already qualified for the knockout stage and they buried their rivals with 31 unanswered points in the final quarter.

Scarlets were already destined for an early exit from Europe with the Welsh outfit needing to win by a huge margin to somehow deny Cardiff Blues a place.

Fly-half Rhys Patchell’s penalty gave Scarlets an early lead, but their English opponents produced the kind of attacking prowess for which they have become noted. Welsh centre Ioan Lloyd took a pass at full speed just inside the Scarlets half and sliced his way through a gap in the defence before off-loading to the supporting Semi Radradra who used his momentum and pace to take him over the line for a fine try.

Callum Sheedy converted and was repeating the act a few minutes later when the weak Scarlets defence was opened up again by a sublime pass from flanker Chris Vui, and Cardiff-born Lloyd did not have to break sweat to cruise over the line.

An open and entertaining encounter, made so by two teams willing and happy to throw caution to the wind, saw Scarlets camp on the Bristol line before hooker Ryan Elias picked up the ball from close range and made no mistake, plunging over the line for his first European try. Patchell converted before narrowing the gap to a single point with his second penalty.

Bristol suffered the blow of losing the impressive Lloyd to a leg injury in what seemed an innocuous incident, after having played a leading role in the Bears taking a 14-13 lead into the break.

Patchell kicked Scarlets ahead with two more penalties, before Bristol were awarded a penalty try after Elias illegally knocked the ball out of Randall’s hands, denying Bristol a try-scoring chance, and was sent to the sin bin.

Scarlets hit back instantly with a rapid break down the left, finishing with full-back James McNicholl diving across the line to level. However, Bristol merely stepped up two or three gears, showing their fitness and mental strength, as well as clinical finishing power as they ran away with the game.

The final 20 minutes was one-way traffic with Bristol players queuing up to cross the line, with Harry Thacker, Piers O’Conor, Siva Naulaugo, Radradra again and then Sheedy celebrating tries to leave Scarlets down and out.

Scarlets boss Dwayne Peel admitted: “It was very disappointing as we competed so well but then gave easy points away and let things slip badly.”

Match details

Scoring sequence: 3-0 Patchell pen, 3-5 Radradra try, 3-7 Sheedy con, 3-12 Lloyd try, 3-14 Sheedy con, 8-14 Elias try, 10-14 Patchell con, 13-14 Patchell pen, 16-14 Patchell pen, 16-21 penalty try, 21-21 McNicholl try, 21-26 Thacker try, 21-28 Sheedy con, 21-33 O’Conor try, 21-35 Sheedy con, 21-40 Naulago try, 21-45 Sheedy try, 21-47 Sheedy con, 21-52 Radradra try.

Scarlets: J McNicholl; L Williams, J Davies, S Williams (Y Rees), R Conbeer (I Nicholas 63); R Patchell (S Costelow 57), D Blacker (K Hardy 57); W Jones (P Price 66), R Elias (Mark Jones 66), S Lee (J Sebastian 60); S Lousi, Morgan Jones (J Helps 66); S Kalamafoni, S Evans, C Tuipulotu.
Sin-bin: Elias.
Bristol: C Piutau (A Uren 65); L Morahan, S Radradra, I Lloyd (P O’Conor 31), H Purdy (R Naulago 53); C Sheedy, H Randall; J Woolmore (Y Thomas 53), B Byrne (H Thacker 40), K Sinckler (J Afoa 53); E Holmes, J Joyce (J Hawkins 71); C Vui (S Luatua 66), D Thomas, F Harding.
Referee: M Raynal (France).

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