Premiership: Bristol Bears 27-27 London Irish
|Bristol (3) 27|
|Tries: Hughes, Piutau, Holmes, Thacker Cons: Sheedy, Lloyd Pen: Sheedy|
|London Irish (7) 27|
|Tries: Meehan, Naholo, Parton Cons: Myler 3 Pens: Myler 2|
Stephen Myler landed a last-minute penalty to secure a dramatic draw for 14-man London Irish at Bristol Bears.
Bristol thought they had won it when hooker Harry Thacker scored their bonus-point try with three minutes to go, only for Myler to deny them.
Irish's Ollie Hoskins was sent off just before the break for making contact with Chris Vui's head at the breakdown.
The teams shared 44 second-half points, with the lead changing hands three times in the final 10 minutes.
There was little sign of the drama to come during a quiet opening period, with the first points scored courtesy of Callum Sheedy's boot after 27 minutes.
Exiles scrum-half Ben Meehan finished off a slick flowing move started by Terrence Hepetema's fine offload, and Myler added the extras to put the visitors in front, before Hoskins saw red.
England international Nathan Hughes and New Zealand full-back Charles Piutau crossed the whitewash in the opening stages of the second period as the Bears raced into the lead.
They were pegged back by All Black winger Waisake Naholo's interception try, but took the lead again with 11 minutes left through replacement lock Ed Holmes.
Irish then took advantage when experienced Bears prop John Afoa was yellow-carded, working the ball along the line for Tom Parton to finish.
Thacker's late try looked like being the winning score, but there was yet more drama to come, as Myler held his nerve and secured a hard-fought draw.
Bristol moved up to second, behind leaders Northampton Saints, while Irish moved into the top half in sixth.
Bristol Bears head coach Pat Lam:
"It's frustrating and disappointing. It feels like a loss as we had a situation where we had the possibility of winning and getting five points and we let it go.
"We left so many points out there, either from the boot or the last pass and we gave them soft points too.
"Today wasn't his day (Sheedy) but we had enough chances to win it elsewhere. The bottom line is we blew the game. We have to learn from it."
London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney:
"It was one of the better draws I have been involved in as you don't want to go down to 14 men against a flowing side like Bristol.
"The one thing you can't coach is attitude but I thought we had bucket loads of that today.
"We are a strange bunch, we are from all over the world with 12 nationalities yet they are prepared to do it for each other. We are a growing team and I count myself lucky to be in this job."
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan, O'Conor, S Piutau, Fricker; Sheedy, Uren; Woolmore, Thacker, Afoa, Joyce, Vui, Luatua (capt), D Thomas, Hughes.
Replacements: Capon, Y Thomas, Lahiff, Holmes, Hamilton, Randall, Lloyd, Leiua.
London Irish: Jackson; Naholo, Stephenson, Hepetema, Rona; Myler, Meehan; Hobbs-Awoyemi, Fainga'a, Hoskins, Botha, Van der Merwe (capt), Rogerson, Cowan, Tuisue.
Replacements: Matu'u, Elrington, Chawatama, Coleman, Mafi, Ioane, Phipps, Parton.
Red card: Hoskins
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).