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'Actions back up his talk': Ellis Genge's contribution not lost on Bristol boss Pat Lam

By PA
Ellis Genge of Bristol Bears reacts after their side concedes a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby at Ashton Gate on September 10, 2022 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam praised the influence of Ellis Genge after his two tries helped Bristol to a 31-29 victory over Bath in their Gallagher Premiership opener at Ashton Gate.

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A much-improved Bath side led by nine points with a mere 10 minutes remaining but scores from Genge and Will Capon, along with a match-winning conversion from AJ MacGinty, secured victory for Lam’s side.

There was nearly a final twist in the tale – but Piers Francis’ last-gasp drop goal sailed just wide to deny the visitors victory.

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On debutant Genge, Lam said: “He was itching to go last night, and then he had to hold back. He said a few words before the game, he wanted to go out there and get stuck into the game.

“His actions back up his talk. Ellis has come in and fitted into our culture really well.

“For the first try Ellis scored, everyone was in the right place. It was a great start with him scoring. We didn’t get many chances after that and had to guts it out.”

This eagerly anticipated contest was originally scheduled for Friday night but was pushed back 24 hours, resulting in no television match official being available.

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Lam continued: “There was a lot of niggles and off-the-ball stuff and that’s what’s going to happen when you don’t have a TMO. It was five tries to two and all that matters is the five points.

“What I liked was that there was no panic. We used the whole squad. We were two tries down with 10 minutes to go and the message was to stay in our game.”

Following the death of the Queen on Thursday a minute’s silence was held in her honour, with the national anthem sung immediately afterward to pay tribute to the new King.

When the action got under way, Genge – who joined from Leicester in the summer – could not have hoped for a better start. In the first minute the England prop charged straight through a gap and dummied the final defender to finish a tremendous individual try.

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Ben Spencer scored a long range try for Bath before Magnus Bradbury hit back for Bristol.

After Luke Morahan had scored Bristol’s third try in the corner, a scuffle ensued and Bath’s replacement hooker Niall Annett was given a red card despite not having come onto the field, with the home side’s Callum Sheedy getting yellow.

Bath took control in the second half with Tom Dunne and Francis putting them ahead before Genge, Capon and MacGinty set up victory for the Bears.

New Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan was proud of his side’s performance, despite the defeat.

He said: “I’m gutted. We came here to win and if the drop goal at the end goes a metre the other way, then it’s a different story.

“We said we would see improvement and we got that from the team. We conceded early and lost two men to injuries but I’m incredibly proud of the effort from the players. Apart from the result I couldn’t ask for more.

‘Every game in the Premiership is close and we now have 23 to go. We have a plan we will follow.”

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