Bristol 40-3 Leicester: Bears run in six tries to keep Premiership play-off hopes alive with bonus-point victory
- Six tries against the Tigers moved them level on points with fourth-placed Sale
- Two points separate the four sides placed second to fifth with a match to play
- Bristol now need to beat London Irish and hope Bath, Wasps or Sale slip up
Bristol duly set up a ‘Super Sunday’ grandstand finish to the Premiership season by mauling a raw Tigers line-up at Ashton Gate to keep themselves in the title hunt.
This result was utterly predictable, in another fixture undermined as a true contest and spectacle by the spectre of squad rotation.
Leicester had a valid excuse for leaving out their senior men, having played at Toulon four days earlier, but it reduced what should have been a meaningful encounter into a one-sided training exercise.
Bristol kept their Premiership play-off hopes alive with a convincing bonus-point victory
Head coach Steve Borthwick has repeatedly selected with future planning in mind, as is his right, but it has not done wonders for the integrity of the league.
A Tigers team featuring Ben Youngs, George Ford, Ellis Genge and other leading lights might have put up a fight, but instead the visiting rookies were brushed aside. There was ample spirit so this was no surrender, but it was no surprise either. So many matches in this congested second phase of the Premiership season have been foregone conclusions.
Bristol beat what was in front of them, convincingly. They finished with six tries to show for their complete dominance. Ioan Lloyd, Nathan Hughes, Bryan Byrne, Dan Thomas and Harry Thacker all touched down – before the hosts were awarded a penalty try at the death.
The Bears thrashed Leicester on Wednesday to move level on points with fourth-placed Sale
Their target was a bonus-point win and that was the outcome. ‘It was the five points we were after so it’s job done in that sense,’ said Lam.
‘Now everything comes down to Sunday. We will put everything into our game at London Irish and by 4.45pm we will know if it was good enough or not.’
The Bears’ best should be enough to beat Irish. Then it comes down to results elsewhere. Sale will expect to dispatch Worcester at home, so the pressure will be on Bath – at Saracens – and Wasps, who host Exeter. It should be an absorbing climax to the regular season, if rotation doesn’t wreck it.