Match Reaction: Bristol Bears 35-28 Newcastle Falcons
Tom Pincus scored the match-winning try on his Gallagher Premiership Rugby debut to help Bristol Bears complete a dramatic comeback victory against Newcastle Falcons.
A thrilling encounter at Ashton Gate saw the lead change hands three times as Harry Randall crossed in the opening minute to give the hosts the early lead against the league’s bottom side.
Newcastle responded with first-half tries from Vereniki Goneva and Callum Chick as they took a 20-10 lead into the break, with Toby Flood adding two conversions and two penalties.
Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan hit back after the restart to put Bristol back in front, but Adam Radwan levelled the scores at 25-25 after running onto a clever Flood grubber kick.
Callum Sheedy and Flood traded penalties before Pincus scored the decisive try two minutes from time to secure a memorable 35-28 bonus-point triumph for Bristol in front of more than 18,000 fans.
MAN OF THE MATCH
There were big performances all over the pitch for Bristol Bears, including some impressive tries for the hosts, but no one made more of a difference than Charles Piutau.
The New Zealander put the finishing touches to a pivotal try at the start of the second half to get the West Country outfit back within three points of Newcastle Falcons.
But it was not just his try that stood him out from the rest, with Piutau also making two clean breaks, beating ten defenders and racking up 20 carries during the match.
The 27-year-old also ran 141 metres with the ball as he caused the visitors problems from start to finish, deservedly earning him the man-of-the-match honours in the process.
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) December 30, 2018
TRY OF THE MATCH
There were plenty of contenders in a match that included seven scores, with Luke Morahan’s slick try at the start of the second period a perfect example of Bristol’s quick hands.
But the best of the tries was scored by Adam Radwan, who marked his 21st birthday with a brilliant try just after the hour to level the scores following Bristol’s second-half resurgence.
Radwan showed his incredible pace as he ran on to a clever grubber kick from Toby Flood, who showed superb vision and execution, before dotting down in the corner.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
It has to go to Tom Pincus’ decisive try with the clock ticking down as the debutant ensured Bristol Bears finished 2018 with plenty to cheer about at Ashton Gate.
Replacement Ed Holmes played a huge role in the build-up as his powerful burst gained 30 metres, before the ball was recycled back to Pincus to drive over in the corner.
The Brisbane-born man showed plenty of composure considering what was a stake for his side, with Callum Sheedy adding the extras to seal a remarkable comeback victory for the hosts.
WHAT THEY SAID
Bristol head coach Pat Lam said: “Obviously I’m happy, the start and second half were very good.
“But, we said very clearly when looking at Newcastle and the sort of team they are, they’re just like their Falcons nickname – if you leave scraps, they’ll swoop in and punish you.
“That’s exactly what we did in the first half. Half-time was a simple message to individuals to look after the ball, stop making stupid passes and take pride in your position.
“There was a lot of character there from the boys to turn it around and come back again to score a try at the end.
“We’re growing and learning as a team, so this win will go into the learning bank and we’ll try and see how we can build on it.”
Winger Tom Pincus said: “It was an amazing match. We really wanted to win this game. To make my debut and help get the win, I’m just really happy for the boys.
“I made a decision two years ago to quit working in Australia and come over to England to play rugby and that’s never looked so good as right now.
“The boys have been working so hard in training. To come out in the second half and turn things around how we did was an amazing effort.
“We didn’t really feel we played to the game plan in the first half, but we galvanised and came out with the right attitude after the break.”
BEST OF SOCIAL
📸 Match action pic.twitter.com/FU9rAZKIJr
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) December 30, 2018
What a way to end the year. Not our best performance but a great team effort to come back and win. Unbelievable from the fans who turned out glad we could reward you all with the win. #HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/VWQpvzM2b9
— Jordan Crane (@JordanCrane86) December 30, 2018
What a time to score your first Gallagher Premiership try! 🙌
Tom Pincus clinches a bonus point win for Bristol 💪
Huge result for the Bears! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/18N0oAMw6G
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 30, 2018
Thank you everyone who came out tonight @BristolBears amazing support 💙🐻 happiest of New Years!
— Steven Luatua (@StevenLuatua) December 30, 2018
🔝 Bumper crowd
😲 Stunning comeback
🔥 @premrugby win
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) December 30, 2018