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In-form Bristol continue play-off push after brushing aside Harlequins

Gabriel Ibitoye of Bristol Bears takes on Andre Esterhuizen of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Harlequins at Ashton Gate on March 12, 2023 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears continued their climb up the Gallagher Premiership table with an impressive 51-26 win over Harlequins at Ashton Gate.


The Bears scored seven tries, with Harry Thacker and Charles Piutau both recording braces and Gabriel Ibitoye, Semi Radradra and Harry Randall also crossing.

Harlequins flanker Jack Kenningham scored a try double of his own from close-range drives while wingers Josh Bassett and Cadan Murley ensured the visitors returned home with a bonus point.

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After four Premiership wins on the bounce, Bristol are now seven points from the play-off places with a game in hand over their rivals. Harlequins sit eighth, one point and one place below the Bears.

Bristol wasted little time in opening the scoring with hooker Thacker spinning off the side of a maul from a lineout to dot the ball down in the corner.

But the lead was short-lived as Kenningham dived over a ruck after sustained bombardment by the visiting forwards.

The tries continued to flow in the dry conditions in BS3 with Piutau unlocking the Londoners’ defence with an out-the-back offload to Ibitoye who cut in off the left wing to run in under the posts, celebrating before dotting down against his former club.


Shortly after, Bristol winger Siva Naulago had a try disallowed for a knock on, but the Bears fans only had to wait a couple of minutes to celebrate again. The Fijian fooled the Harlequins’ defence with a dummy run to open up a gap for Thacker, who finished an arcing run under the posts which started off the top of a lineout 20 metres out.

Within 24 minutes the hosts had the bonus point wrapped up as fly-half AJ MacGinty delayed a pass beautifully before hitting Radradra on a straight line which again ended under the sticks.

Harlequins hit back with a nice foray down the left wing, working an overlap to put Dino Lamb away along the touchline before the lock passed back inside to Bassett to finish the cutting move.

USA international MacGinty added a penalty to take his tally to 11 points and put Bristol 31-12 ahead after 30 minutes before he limped soon after to be replaced by Sam Bedlow.


Bristol opened the scoring in the second half with a penalty from the boot of James Williams.

Kenningham then powered over from close range for his second of the afternoon before the Bears responded with a superb purple patch to blow the game out of the water.

First Randall sniped his way over and Harlequins lost hooker Sam Riley to the sin bin for a high tackle.

With the extra man, Piutau finished two wonderful, sweeping attacking moves to continue his rich vein of personal form.

Murley’s interception from Bedlow’s pass and 80m run-in secured the bonus point for Harlequins, on a day largely to forget for Tabai Matson’s men.


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