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Match Reaction: Bristol Bears 17-10 Bath Rugby

Match Reaction: Bristol Bears 17-10 Bath Rugby

Pat Lam believes Bristol Bears can finish in the top six this season and they certainly showed why with a superb display to beat rivals Bath Rugby in the opening game of the new Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.

Alapati Leiua scored the winning try with less than ten minutes remaining while Ian Madigan kicked four penalties in the narrow success.

Tom Homer scored Bath’s try while Rhys Priestland put them briefly ahead, but the Bears, backed by 26,079 people, had too much in the end.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Bristol Bears wing Luke Morahan tormented Bath throughout with his incisive runs and it was he who set up the winning try.

Morahan burst through a gaping bath gap in the first half, only to fail to find a teammate, but he did not make the same mistake twice.

With Bath ahead, the Bears needed an inspirational response and they got one when Morahan cut through and supplied Leiua, who just about held onto the ball and touched down.

TRY OF THE MATCH

The noise that erupted out of Ashton Gate when Leiau scored was deafening and it helped that it was created in such a classy way.

Bath had a grip on the match after Rhys Priestland put them ahead but Morahan quickly loosened it by sniping inside two players and sprinting clear.

With the gap in front closing, he found the pacey Leiua in space and although it took him several juggles to get the ball under control, he slammed it into the turf.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Bristol Bears have waited over a year for this moment and when the full-time whistle blew, the elation was overwhelming.

Fans and players celebrated as if they had won the final – showing just how much it means to beat their biggest rivals on Gallagher Premiership Rugby opening night.

Pat Lam’s men have shown that Ashton Gate will be a tough place to visit this season.

WHAT THEY SAID

Bristol Bears director of rugby Pat Lam said: “When you’re under pressure it’s about being able to show resilience and character and stay together as a team.

“We were under a lot of pressure, we got done in the penalty count and spent a lot of time in our own half. I’m extremely proud of the boys.”

Bath Rugby captain Matt Garvey said: “Rugby can be quite humbling at times, there was a lot of effort in the first half.

“I thought it was only a matter of time before it would tell but we made too many errors- they cost us.

“We were dangerous at points and we have to look at it. It does not matter who you play, you will be punished if you don’t take advantage.”

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