With the scores tied at 20-20 after normal time, Piers O’Conor and Max Malins’ tries saw Bristol triumph
The Bristol Bears scored two overtime tries to reach their first European final and stay on track for the club’s first major silverware since 1983 though Bordeaux-Begles struggled to tie the scores at the end of the second half, they were forced to play with 14 men in overtime after running out of substitutes and losing No.8 Marco Tauleigne to injury
Piers O’Conor struck within 50 seconds of the start of the extra period with a weaving run for a try that Callum Sheedy converted, then Max Malins ran in his second of the game This was also converted and a final penalty from Sheedy made the game and the match against the home side, who will now meet either Toulon or Leicester Tigers in next weekend’s final
If skipper Steve Luatua hadn’t crossed over on the overlap for a much-needed home try, which Sheedy converted on the stroke of half-time, it might have been the perfect first-half performance away from at home for Bordeaux-Begles Matthieu Jalibert led the show from the start and scored a solo try after just 11 minutes to take the lead His half-partner Maxime Lucu converted out of the sideline Jalibert then added two penalties to stretch the lead even further
But Sheedy sent Bristol back to 22nd and they shifted the roster from right to left and back Semi Radradra galloped around a man to create space for her captain to run free to the line
The second half didn’t start as well as the first had ended as Bristol ended up with 14 men when Radradra saw yellow for a swing arm tackle Then Sheedy missed with a regulation penalty of 30 yards But just as it looked like it might not have been Bristol night, a moment of magic from Randall as he came out of a ruck on the 22nd to give Clever the chance to run on it and grab the bouncing ball and cross over to the posts Sheedy’s conversion took the lead
Radradra was back, the momentum had changed and Sheedy’s shoe punished two mistakes by a now tiring French team with penalties that extended the lead to seven points But Bordeaux obviously saved something for a grandstand finish A driving roster turned into a great try for hooker Joseph Dweba who Ben Botica converted to tie the scores with 13 minutes left.
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Bristol Bears, Union Bordeaux Bègles, European Rugby Challenge Cup, Rugby union, Semi Radradra
News from around the world – GB – Bristol reaches first European final with overtime victory against Bordeaux -Begles
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