Saracens - Preview: Bristol Bears (H)

Sep 06, 2018

Preview: Bristol Bears (H)


Twitter: @BristolBears
Ground: Ashton Gate
Capacity: 27,000


Last season:
Championship: 1st
British & Irish Cup: Pool Stage

Ins: John Afoa (Gloucester), Jake Armstrong (Jersey Reds), Luke Daniels (Ealing Trailfinders), Tiff Eden (Nottingham), Jake Heenan (Connacht), Ed Holmes (Exeter Chiefs), James Lay (Bay of Plenty), Jordan Lay (Edinburgh), Tom Lindsay (Bedford Blues), Shaun Malton (Exeter Chiefs), Aly Muldowney (Grenoble), Piers O’Conor (Ealing Trailfinders), Tom Pincus (Jersey Reds), Charles Piatau (Ulster), Harry Randall (Gloucester), George Smith (Queensland Reds), Nic Stirzaker (Saracens), Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers), Lewis Thiede (Ealing Trailfinders), Yann Thomas (Rouen), Jake Woolmore (Jersey Reds)

Outs: Ryan Bevington (Dragons), Gaston Cortes (Leicester Tigers), Max Crumpton (Harlequins), Tyler Gendall (Cornish Pirates), Alex Giltrow, Ryan Glynn, Ben Gompels, Jason Harris-Wright, David Lemi, Jordon Liney, Ross McMillan, James Newey, Thretton Palamo (all unattached), Giorgi Nemsadze (Ospreys), Jack O’Connell (Ealing Trailfinders), Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues), Billy Searle (Wasps), Soana Tonga’uiha (Ampthill), Dan Tuohy (Vannes), Jack Wallace (Richmond), Jordan Williams, Rhodri Williams (both Dragons)


After winning the Championship at a canter last season, Bristol have began life back in the top flight in the best possible way – a victory over West Country rivals in front of a packed out Ashton Gate. That’s part of the dream complete – a sell-out rugby crowd in Bristol. Part of the reason for the South West outfit rebranding as the Bears was to making themselves more marketable, target a larger audience and produce rugby good enough to propel themselves into the Champions Cup. They’re very early on their journey but the signings of Steven Luatua, Luke Morahan, Charles Piatau et al. show that the Bears aren’t in the Premiership just to make up the numbers.


After leading Connacht to their first ever major trophy in 2016 by winning the Pro12 title, Lam spent an additional season with the Irish province before taking the reins at Bristol Bears. A Samoan international during his playing days, the 49-year-old won the Premiership with Newcastle Falcons in 1997/98 and enjoyed further success as captain of Northampton Saints, winning the 2000 Heineken Cup. A coach with a burgeoning reputation and an impressive CV, the ex-Crusaders player spent five years as Head Coach of Auckland and four years with the Blues, before joining Connacht in 2013. In his first season at the helm with the Bears, Lam led the Ashton Gate side to an immediate return to the Gallagher Premiership with an impressive 21 wins out of 22.


It was a statement of intent when Bristol convinced Luatua to swap New Zealand for the South West of England. The 27-year-old signed on at Ashton Gate as they prepared for life back in the Championship, ending the opportunity to add to his 14 All Blacks caps – for the time being anyway. His last match at Eden Park saw him excel for the Blues versus the British and Irish Lions in 2017, a game the Auckland side won 22-16. In his debut year at Bristol, the Kiwi notched four times in 14 matches and on his first Premiership outing, he captained Lam’s side to victory.


Saturday 11th January 2009

Saracens 37
Tries: Barritt, Aguero, Skirving, Borthwick Cons: Jackson (3), Ross Pens: Jackson (3)

Bristol 13
Linklater Con: Barnes Pens: Barnes (2)

Saracens moved up to sixth in the Guinness Premiership after a routine 37-13 win over bottom side Bristol.

The Men in Black had a blistering start to the match with tries from Brad Barritt and Matias Aguero putting them in control. They added the third through Ben Skirving early in the second half and skipper Steve Borthwick scored his first Sarries try late on to seal a bonus-point win.

Glen Jackson’s was perfect from the boot collecting 15 points with Gordon Ross adding one conversion.

Bristol’s solitary try came through Scott Linklater’s bundling effort which Ed Barnes converted before slotting two penalties.

Saracens: Wyles, Haughton, Sorrell, Barritt, Cato, Jackson, de Kock; Aguero, Ongaro, Johnston, Borthwick, Jack, van Heerden, Saull, Skirving. Replacements: Kyriacou, Lloyd, Visagie, Vyvyan, Raulini, Ross, Penney.

Bristol: Lilo, Turner, Ne.Brew, Barnes, Na.Brew, Jarvis, Perry; Irish, Linklater, Crompton, Budgett, Sidoli, Salter, To’oala, Ward-Smith. Replacements: Blaney, Thompson, Winters, Phillips, Beveridge, Eves, Robinson. Sin Bin: Blaney 76


One of the reasons Bristol rebranded as the Bears was due to the animal being “emblematic of leadership, of strength and confidence, of standing against adversity and taking action”.


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