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Bristol snatch thrilling win from Harlequins with late Kyle Sinckler try | Premiership


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As Bristol celebrated Kyle Sinckler’s last-gasp try against his former club in the final move of the match, Danny Care remonstrated in vain with the referee Hamish Smales who had awarded the score after a review. Defeat was hard on the scrum-half, who had run the game tactically, and also on his transformed team, but it was the fifth time this season the Bears had turned defeat to victory at the death – a result confirmed by Callum Sheedy’s excellent conversion with the last kick of the game.

Marcus Smith’s third penalty had made it 33-21 to Quins with eight minutes to go: just reward for their unflinching commitment. They unsettled Bristol by competing hard for the ball on the floor, tacklers quickly getting back to their feet to contest and win penalties. They were far removed from the side that had crumpled in the second half when they entertained Bristol on Boxing Day. It turned out to be the penultimate match for their then head of rugby, Paul Gustard, and since his departure they have grown into title contenders, fired by their long-serving England trio of Care, Joe Marler and Mike Brown.

Semi Radradra offloads to Bristol teammate Piers O’Conor.
Semi Radradra offloads to Bristol teammate Piers O’Conor. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Bristol three times took the lead in the first half only to be hauled back, running from deep for the first scored by the second-row David Attwood, working a lineout move for the second finished by Fitz Harding before the returning Semi Radradra stood at fly-half at a scrum 25 metres out, charged at Smith and Care before slipping the ball to Piers O’Conor.

Quins responded each time, first with a penalty try after Ben Earl prevented Dino Lamb from touching the ball down following a rolling maul. Earl was also sent to the sin-bin and had only just returned when he received a poor pass from Andy Uren on his line and was immediately dispossessed by Care, who scored.

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Two tries from Ben Loader helped London Irish to a pulsating 36-33 win over Bath, who finished the contest with 13 men.

Bath struck first through a Will Muir effort, aided by Max Clark, and an exchange of penalties kept them in front, but Irish finished the half strongly.

Loader skipped past three tacklers before dotting down to draw Irish level, before a moment of brilliance from Tom Parton set up a second. Collecting a high ball in his own half, he glided through the middle of the pitch, leading to Paddy Jackson teeing up Matt Rogerson.

Bath started the second half with intensity, but discipline became an issue. Dunn saw red for a smash into the face of Agustín Creevy, before Ewels followed after collecting a second yellow, Muir having also gone to the sin-bin in between as Bath were reduced to 12 for a spell.

Loader and Curtis Rona exploited the gaps to secure a bonus point as they opened up a 36-23 lead with 15 minutes to play. Those two tries sandwiched a sublime team score, finished by Parton. 

But Bath rallied late to keep their play-off hopes alive with late contributions from Josh McNally and Jack Walker. 

Chris Ashton was sent off as Worcester’s nightmare season continued with a crushing 62-14 defeat to Northampton at Sixways.

The former England wing had earlier scored a try but his charge into a ruck saw his forearm make contact with an opponent’s head.

His departure sealed Worcester’s fate as they fell to their 14th consecutive defeat, with Ollie Sleightholme notching four tries for the Saints.

Smith’s first penalty cut Bristol’s interval lead to four points and within 14 minutes of the restart, Quins were ahead through another Smith penalty and a 25-metre drop goal by Care, who stood out in front of the Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, kicking astutely, manoeuvring space and keeping his side on the front foot.

Bristol lacked position and were forced to raid from deep, but all the ground made by Luke Morahan and Henry Purdy was wasted by the penalties they conceded under pressure at the breakdown. When Care’s pass to André Esterhuizen led to a Joe Marchant try and Smith converted his third penalty, Quins led the penalty count 15-4 and were ahead on the scoreboard 33-21.

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The Bristol director of rugby, Pat Lam, reminded his players they had been there before this season – against Northampton, twice, Gloucester and Worcester. There were five minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty try and Marchant was sent to the sin-bin for thwarting Dan Thomas, and time was up when they kicked a penalty to touch. Their driving maul looked to have stalled when it suddenly regained momentum and Sinckler took possession. The England prop touched down and Sheedy’s fine conversion from wide on the right put Bristol 12 points clear at the top.

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