Advertisement

Premiership: Bristol 52-21 Northampton: Seven-try Bristol end league leaders Saints' winning run

Harry Randall sprints to score a try for Bristol
Scrum-half Harry Randall races away to score Bristol Bears' second try, which started inside their own 22

Gallagher Premiership

Bristol: (17) 50

Tries: Batley, Randall, Sinckler, Dun, Malins, Davies, Ibitoye Pens: MacGinty Cons: MacGinty 6, Williams

Northampton: (7) 21

Tries: Sleightholme 2, Garside Cons: Smith 3

Bristol Bears came out firing after the Premiership break, scoring seven tries to end leaders Northampton's 10-game winning streak.

Tries from Joe Batley and Harry Randall helped give Bristol an early 17-0 lead.

Two replies from Ollie Sleightholme gave Saints hope but Kyle Sinckler and James Dun sealed Bristol's bonus point.

Max Malins, Fred Davies and Gabriel Ibitoye then added three more tries for the Bears either side of Jake Garside's Northampton consolation.

Northampton remain seven points clear at the top of the table although, with three fixtures still to come on Saturday and Sunday their lead could be reduced. Bristol put themselves right in the mix for the top four after moving from eighth up to sixth.

This was the Bears' third consecutive Premiership win against Saints and, after 54 days with no game, they appeared to benefit from the break more.

Batley charged down a clearance from Saints scrum-half Archie McParland to open the scoring, before MacGinty's penalty made it 10-0.

Randall then scored a showpiece try as the Bears charged from inside their 22. MacGinty found a gap to run in between before passing to Randall on his shoulder and the scrum-half won the long sprint to the line.

Northampton struggled to get a foothold and a huge tackle from Steven Luatua on Lewis Ludlum halted the Saints' first real bout of pressure as they went through the phases under the posts.

Yet the visitors were handed an opening when Bristol winger Siva Naulago was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on and Saints scored their first points as Sleightholme charged his way over through three defenders.

Northampton's ill discipline, however, proved more costly - they conceded 14 penalties to Bristol's six - and Sinckler rolled over for Bristol's third try after Ludlum was sent to the sin-bin for a side entry in a maul.

The fixture has long proved high scoring with 60, 70, 61 and 76 points in the last four meetings.

That pattern continued as Sleightholme's fantastic form - a positive takeaway for the Saints - saw him add his ninth try of the campaign and briefly close the gap to 10 points.

But Dun got Bristol's fourth and winger Malins, on his return from a knee injury, ran in a fifth six minutes later to make it 38-14.

A crossfield kick from Fin Smith picked out replacement Garside in acres of space with 16 minutes left on the clock, but Pat Lam's side broke the 50-point mark for the second Premiership game in a row.

Hooker Davies scored from close range for Bristol's sixth try, before winger Ibitoye ran over in the final 60 seconds to reinvigorate the Bears' push for a play-off place.

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam told BBC Radio Bristol:

"It's what we've worked on, that looked like our training, that looked like the work that we've put in. That's not an easy game because they are a good side but we really focused on what we did.

"I said to the guys my favourite part of the first half was actually Maggy [Bradbury] losing the ball in the rain because we've been talking about when we do make mistakes it's no problem, just get back in and get the ball back and that's what they did.

"So many times when we allowed them to score a soft try we came back and scored again. That's what we've been working on.

"We know what we're trying to achieve, there's eight teams trying to achieve it, but the only interest for us was today's game. And now the only thing that matters is Gloucester and Kingsholm [the next game]."

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson told BBC Radio Northamptonshire:

"We took a good old-fashioned hiding and we've got to make sure we look at that in forensic detail, as a coaching group, as a playing group, and make sure we're better next time.

"Credit to Bristol, they played well and all the things we spoke about that they are dangerous at they proved to be, a very good side on the evening, way better than us - and we have to make sure we deal with that in the most honest way possible and move forward.

"I thought we showed moments where we showed what we were capable of but across the board, in different facets of the game, Bristol were the better side.

"It's easy to be tough, it's easy to be resilient, it's easy to be full of it when you've got the momentum and you're flying high and sometimes you take a hiding and you have to take that medicine and move on."

Bristol: Heward, Naulago, Van Rensburg, Williams, Ibitoye, MacGinty, Randall; Y Thomas, Oghre, Sinckler, Dun, Batley, Luatua, Harding (c), Bradbury.

Replacements: Davies, Genge, Lahiff, Owen, Heenan, Marmion, Ravouvou, Malins.

Sin-bin: Naulago (35).

Northampton: Hendy, Ramm, Odendaal, Hutchinson, Sleightholme, Smith, McParland; Iyogun, Matavesi, Davison, Mayanavanua, Coles, Lawes, Ludlam (c), Graham.

Replacements: Langdon, Waller, Hill, Lockett, Augustus, Garside, Dingwall, Litchfield.

Sin-bin: Ludlum (51).

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys