Bristol reclaimed second place in the Gallagher Premiership after Semi Radradra inspired them to a 36-13 bonus-point victory over Worcester at Sixways. Pat Lam’s team moved three points above Sale Sharks to lead the chasing play-off pack behind runaway leaders Exeter.
And it was superstar Fijian centre Radradra’s raw power and creative flair that did for Worcester as Bristol scored tries through his midfield partner Siale Piutau, lock Ed Holmes, flanker Dan Thomas, scrum-half Andy Uren and back-row substitute Ben Earl.
Fly-half Callum Sheedy added a penalty and four conversions, but Worcester – 21 points behind Bristol before kick-off – gave their opponents a scare and led at half-time after full-back Melani Nanai’s try, plus two penalties and a conversion from Scotland international Duncan Weir.
But with Radradra at the wheel, Bristol moved through the gears after half-time, scoring 26 unanswered points to underline their Premiership title credentials. Both teams also finished with 14 men after Warriors’ replacement lock Andrew Kitchener was sent off for punching Siale Piutau, who received a yellow card following the 79th-minute incident.
Nanai returned from suspension for Worcester as a solitary change following Warriors’ bonus-point win against Harlequins nine days ago. Lam, meanwhile, made 13 switches, with only Holmes and Siale Piutau remaining after a 40-7 drubbing by Sale last time out. Star signings Radradra and Kyle Sinckler were among those back in action.
5? clean breaks
It's getting a bit silly now, Semi ? pic.twitter.com/pjCBEXJgMs
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) September 4, 2020
Radradra served notice of his line-breaking ability in just the fourth minute, breaking three attempted tackles to set up an attack that forced Worcester deep inside their own 22. And Radradra’s midfield colleague Siale Piutau then set up an opening try, freeing scrum-half Harry Randall in space before quickly recycled possession resulted in Holmes crashing over and Sheedy converting.
Worcester responded strongly, though, and lock Anton Bresler went agonisingly close to an equalising try, but the grounding proved inconclusive and it was ruled out following a lengthy discussion between referee Wayne Barnes and television match official Geoff Warren.
Bristol tried to re-establish their early ascendancy, but Weir opened Worcester’s account before Radradra highlighted his defensive quality by making a try-saving challenge on Warriors wing Tom Howe. It was only a temporary reprieve for Bristol, with Nanai winning the touchdown race to claim Warriors’ opening try, and Weir converting for a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Poor Bristol discipline continued to hamper them, and Weir kicked a 35-metre penalty that put the Warriors further ahead. Bristol needed a response before the interval, and after full-back Charles Piutau was held up over the line, a close-range Sheedy penalty strike reduced the arrears.
And Worcester could have fallen behind by half-time when Bristol attacked from a lineout, but wing Noah Heward’s tackle on Sinckler saw the England prop spill possession and Warriors maintained their advantage. Charles Piutau did not reappear for the second-half, being replaced by Ioan Lloyd, but Radradra sparked Bristol into action with a searing break from inside his 22.
Worcester defenders managed to haul him down, yet Bristol were not to be denied as they relentlessly drove a subsequent attacking lineout and Thomas scored, putting the visitors back in front. Bristol saw scrum-half Harry Randall go off injured, yet it did not disrupt their attacking rhythm, and a dominant third quarter display saw Siale Piutau claimed another try, converted by Sheedy.
Substitute flanker Ben Earl then crossed for what appeared to be Bristol’s third touchdown in seven minutes, but it was ruled out for a foot in touch earlier in a move that again involved Radradra. Uren and Earl were not to be denied during the closing minutes, and Bristol march on with another five points in the bag.
The Chiefs have been the best behaved since the restart, conceding just 39 penalties in 4 games compared to Bristol's 59https://t.co/cdfMOjEXeX
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 4, 2020
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