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Piers O'Conor crosses twice as Bristol reach last 16 of Champions Cup

By PA
Bristol Bears v Stade Francais – Heineken Champions Cup – Pool A – Ashton Gate

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Piers O’Conor scored two tries as Bristol qualified for the Heineken Champions Cup last 16 with a hard-fought 28-17 win over Stade Francais at Ashton Gate.

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Stade Francais, who presently lie 10th in the Top 14, offered stubborn resistance but bore no resemblance to their predecessors, who reached the final of the tournament on three occasions.

Bristol’s other tries came from Henry Purdy and Harry Randall with Callum Sheedy kicking four conversions.

Leo Barre and Antoine Burban crossed for the French outfit as Nicolas Sanchez converted both and added a penalty.

Joe Joyce led out Bristol on his 150th appearance for the club but the visitors were first to threaten when Telusa Veainu powered down the right flank and it took an excellent cover tackle from Sheedy to haul the wing down.

Bristol began at a high tempo with Semi Radradra having a number of touches in the opening 15 minutes but the home side lacked the accuracy to make it count with ill-directed passes and frequent turnovers being features of their play.

However, the Bears sprung into life when they were awarded a penalty in their half. Randall took it quickly to rip the defence apart before sending Purdy in under the posts.

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That was the only score of this first quarter but a minute later, Stade Francais had a chance to come onto the board but Sanchez missed a penalty from 45 metres.

An excellent touch-finder from Randall put the hosts in a strong positon and a well-rehearsed line-out move saw Dan Thomas and Randall create a try for O’Conor.

On the stroke of half-time the visitors secured their first try when Bristol dithered to allow Barre to race on to a chip ahead and score. A simple conversion from Sanchez left his side trailing 14-7 at the interval.

Seven minutes after the restart Sanchez kicked a penalty but Bristol’s nerves were calmed when the livewire Randall scored as once again he took a quick penalty from 10 metres out before evading two defenders to touchdown.

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Bristol sealed victory when Luke Morahan broke out of defence to run 40 metres to provide O’Conor with an easy run-in for his second and pick up a bonus point.

Stade Francais remained spirited and were rewarded when replacement Burban forced his way over from close range but they came away with nothing and look set to exit the tournament at an early stage.

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

Bristol Bears v Stade Francais - Heineken Champions Cup - Pool A - Ashton Gate

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