Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World

Brave Bristol come from behind to become ninth English Challenge Cup winner

(Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

More News More News

Bristol Bears scored the quickest try in European Challenge Cup final history as they became the ninth English club to win the title after a 32-19 win over Toulon at Stade Maurice-David in Aix-en-Provence. Harry Randall scored the opening try of the game after just 15 seconds to give the Bears, playing in their first European final, a dream start.


The Bears found themselves 19-13 down with 52 minutes on the clock but stepped up their game to secure victory with fly-half Callum Sheedy converting eight out of eights kicks for a 22-point haul to earn Bristol their first piece of major silverware since 1983.

Bristol arrived for their first European final without three key players. Charles Piutau was ruled out with a hamstring injury, No8 Nathan Hughes missed out with a rib problem and skipper Steve Luatua pulled out the day before the game to stay with his wife for the birth of their daughter.

Video Spacer

Exeter boss Rob Baxter talks to the media ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup final
Video Spacer
Exeter boss Rob Baxter talks to the media ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup final

Bristol’s sensational start came after Semi Radradra gathered the kick-off and the Fijian centre attracted the attention of three players as he looked inside and ran towards the left touchline, pulling Bryce Heem off his wing.

A brilliant pass out of contact to wing Alapati Leiua allowed the Samoan to race up the touchline to halfway before transferring back inside to the supporting Radradra. Scrum-half Randall then scampered 40 metres to the line to open the scoring.

Sheedy added the wide-angled conversion and then a penalty to make it 10-0 inside the first four minutes. Toulon were shell-shocked but quickly galvanised themselves and took full advantage of a dropped ball at a risky run-around move in the Bristol midfield near their 10-metre line.


Quick hands provided Heem with a simple run to the line and Louis Carbonel added the extras. Bristol thought they had picked up a second try shortly after Toulon had made a hash of the re-start. The Bears kicked a penalty to touch and then drove the ball over the line. Referee Andrew Brace awarded a try to hooker Harry Thacker but then had to rule it out when the TMO showed him that the ball had been dropped over the line.

Carbonel levelled with a penalty in the 21st minute and then Bristol had a second try awarded on the field ruled out by the TMO. This time it was Joe Joyce who had his score rubbed out for a final forward pass from Radradra. Carbonel then gave Toulon the edge going into the break with two penalties in the space of four minutes to make it 16-10 to the Top 14 side.

Bristol brought on Jake Heenan to replace Chris Vui in the back row at the start of the second half and were then forced to replace Radradra after an hour. Sheedy and Carbonel swapped penalties in the early stages of the second half before the new Wales squad outside half brought Bristol back on level terms with two long-range shots in the space of three minutes.

Better was to come after Toulon lost a lineout in the 22 and hacked clear. Bristol countered from halfway and full-back Max Mallins sidestepped his way between the Toulon centres before running 40 metres to the line for a try that Sheedy converted.


Sheedy added two more penalties to complete the job and help to make up of the disappointment of losing to Wasps in the Premiership semi-final. However, Bristol could be propelled into the final against Exeter if Wasps fall to the outbreak of coronavirus that has placed their participation at Twickenham in doubt.

The Bears were crushed 47-24 at the Ricoh Arena in last Saturday’s play-off but would be given a reprieve on the strength of finishing higher than Bath – the other losing semi-finalist – at the end of the regular Premiership season. Four Wasps players and three members of backroom staff produced positive results for Covid-19 last Wednesday and are now self-isolating, with the club also cancelling training for the week.


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
TRENDING Owen Farrell 'very unhappy' with Eddie Jones' latest decision Farrell 'unhappy' with Jones' decision