Bristol Bears 35-28 Newcastle Falcons: Bonus point win for Bristol heaps more trouble on Newcastle
|Bristol (10) 35|
|Tries: Randall, C Piutau, Morahan, Pincus Cons: Madigan 2, Sheedy Pens: Madigan 2, Sheedy|
|Newcastle (20) 28|
|Tries: Goneva, Chick, Radwan Cons: Flood 2 Pens: Flood 3|
Bristol earned a 35-28 bonus-point victory over fellow strugglers Newcastle in a Premiership thriller.
Debutant winger Tom Pincus' try two minutes from time proved decisive as the lead changed hands three times.
Harry Randall put Bears ahead early on before Vereniki Goneva and Callum Chick gave Falcons a 20-10 half-time lead.
Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan scored quickly to put Bristol back in front but Adam Radwan levelled at 25-25, only for Pincus to seal the win.
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A crowd of more than 18,000 roared Bristol to their fourth win of the season at the Premiership season's halfway mark. Victory for Pat Lam's side keeps them in 10th, but opens up a six-point gap to Worcester and Newcastle below them.
Falcons remain bottom on points difference despite claiming a losing bonus point. However, they will rue a number of missed chances to have won the game themselves.
When winger Radwan crossed for a try on his 21st birthday, Toby Flood's conversion attempt came back off the post as he tried to put them back in front.
Ultimately, Bristol's spell of 15 unanswered points in 19 second-half minutes set the platform for a crucial bonus-point win.
Brisbane-born 26-year-old Pincus may well have scored a try that helps guarantee Premiership survival come May.
Bristol head coach Pat Lam told BBC Radio Bristol:
"Obviously I'm happy, the start and second half were very good.
"But, we said very clearly when looking at Newcastle and the sort of team they are, they're just like their Falcons nickname - if you leave scraps, they'll swoop in and punish you.
"That's exactly what we did in the first half. Half-time was a simple message to individuals to look after the ball, stop making stupid passes and take pride in your position.
"There was a lot of character there from the boys to turn it around and come back again to score a try at the end.
"We're growing and learning as a team, so this win will go into the learning bank and we'll try and see how we can build on it."
Winger Tom Pincus told BBC Radio Bristol:
"It was an amazing match. We really wanted to win this game.
"To make my debut and help get the win, I'm just really happy for the boys.
"I made a decision two years ago to quit working in Australia and come over to England to play rugby and that's never looked so good as right now.
"The boys have been working so hard in training. To come out in the second half and turn things around how we did was an amazing effort.
"We didn't really feel we played to the game plan in the first half, but we galvanised and came out with the right attitude after the break."
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:
"There's still a long way to go in the season, but we felt we should have got more out of the game as it was there for the taking.
"We slipped off a couple of tackles and gave away simple penalties, but you have to take your hat off to them as they play an exciting, expansive game.
"Some of our boys picked up a couple of bumps just before half-time and this affected us, especially when they came out firing.
"They've spent a lot of money on a few players and they made a considerable difference."
Bristol: C Piutau; Morahan, Hurrell, S Piutau (co-capt), Pincus; Madigan Randall; Thomas, Thacker, Afoa, Vui, Muldowney, Luatua, Thomas, Crane (co-capt).
Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Woolmore, Thiede, Holmes, Smith, Uren, Sheedy, O'Conor.
Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Radwan; Flood, Young; Mavinga, McGuigan, Mulipola, Green, Cavubati, Welch (capt), Hardie, Chick.
Replacements: Cooper, Brocklebank, Wilson, Davidson, Graham, Takulua, Connon, Arscott.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).
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