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Bristol pump Northampton with nine try haul

Charles Piutau with ball in hand for the Bristol Bears. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Rampant Bristol reeled off a third successive Gallagher Premiership victory after crushing play-off hopefuls Northampton 62-8 at Ashton Gate.


It left Bristol just three points adrift of the play-off zone, with Pat Lam’s team hitting impressive form at the season’s business end as they recorded their club-record Premiership win.

Scrum-half Harry Randall scored two tries, while hooker Harry Thacker and substitute wing Ioan Lloyd also touched down as Bristol secured a bonus-point before half-time.

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The second period was a similar tale of dominance as further tries followed for Lloyd, lock Chris Vui, prop George Kloska, flanker Fitz Harding and replacement Jake Heenan to leave Saints in disarray.

Fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked four conversions and a penalty, with centre James Williams adding three conversions. All Northampton could muster was a George Hendy try and Fin Smith penalty.

Northampton were without a number of players due to injuries and England training commitments, but their capitulation was startling on a night that saw them out-played in every key department on the way to a club record Premiership loss.

But Bristol, despite suffering a run of eight league games without a win earlier this term, now find themselves chasing a play-off spot.


A five-game run-in begins at home to Harlequins next weekend and, with confidence levels soaring, a concerted semi-final push looks likely.

Saints were immediately on the front foot, with wing Tom Collins sparking a thrilling counter-attack that stretched Bristol’s defence, before Smith opened Northampton’s account through an eighth-minute penalty.

Even though MacGinty kicked an equalising penalty four minutes later, Bristol found themselves dominated in terms of territory and possession.

But just when they required a flash of inspiration it arrived in the form of England international Randall, who sprinted over from 20 metres out after wrong-footing Saints’ defence.


Bristol thought they had scored again from the restart when number eight Magnus Bradbury sent Thacker clear, only for him to find the unmarked Siva Naulago with a forward pass.

Northampton were in reverse gear, though, and Bristol punished them again through a close-range Thacker try that MacGinty converted, opening up a 17-3 lead.

Bristol’s attacking game had found full throttle, which was underlined seven minutes before half-time when Northampton had no answer to the brilliance of full-back Charles Piutau.

Piutau spun his way out of a tackle just inside Bristol’s half, then tormented Northampton defenders on a weaving run before kicking towards the corner and Randall gathered a kind bounce to collect a second try.

Piutau was well and truly in the mood to cause havoc, and Bristol collected a bonus-point try following another destructive break that ended with a one-handed pass to Lloyd, whose strong finish made it 27-3 at the break.

Bristol had no intention of sitting on their sizeable lead, and Northampton’s defence was opened up again five minutes into the second period when Randall and Piutau combined to create a second try for Lloyd.

It was now nothing more than a damage-limitation exercise for Northampton, yet Vui’s opportunist try, converted by MacGinty, took Bristol past 40 points with almost 30 minutes remaining.

Hendy grabbed a Northampton consolation score, but Bristol continued to pick Saints off with ease as Kloska rounded off a concerted spell of pressure with try number seven, then Harding and Heenan completed the rout.


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