Watch the key moments from Bristol’s 32-19 victory over Toulon in Aix-en-Provence
Bristol win European Challenge Cup 2019-20
Bristol Bears lifted their first-ever European trophy with an impressive 32-19 victory over Toulon in the Challenge Cup final in Aix-en-Provence.
The Bears bounced back from their Gallagher Premiership semi-final defeat by Wasps to outplay the three-time Champions Cup winners, with fly-half Callum Sheedy kicking 22 points.
Man of the Match Ben Earl told BT Sport: “It’s unbelievable. We were so calm and so controlled, even when we were behind we trusted our system and I’m so proud of the boys.
“It just shows the character of the team. It’s been a tough journey since lockdown, there have been highs and lows, like last week. The mood in the camp on Monday morning after the Wasps result… It took a lot to bounce back and I’m so happy for the club and the community.”
Bristol got off to a dream start when Harry Randall scored after just 15 seconds – the quickest-ever try in a European final. It was all sparked from the kick-off as Semi Radradra launched an attack from deep and you can watch it here…
The Bears were 10-0 up after five minutes thanks to the boot of Sheedy but it was three-time Champions Cup winners Toulon who led at half-time.
Bryce Heem scored the French side’s first-half try as they capitalised on a spilled ball. Louis Carbonel converted and then added three penalties to make it 16-10 at the break.
Bristol did get over the whitewash on two more occasions in that opening period but both tries were ruled out by the TMO.
First, Harry Thacker dropped the ball as he attempted to ground it from a maul and then Radradra’s final pass to Joe Joyce was ruled forward.
Penalties from Sheedy (three) and Carbonel (one) drew the scores level before Max Malins burst through the Toulon defence with a clever change of pace to put Bristol back in front going into the final quarter.
Bristol certainly showed more creativity in attack than Toulon but it was their defence that proved crucial after Malins’s try as they withstood a sustained period of pressure in their own 22 and then secured an important turnover.
A 74th-minute scrum penalty, slotted by Sheedy, gave the Bears a crucial ten-point cushion going into the closing stages and the fly-half added further gloss to the scoreline with anther three-pointer with two minutes to go.
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Director of rugby Pat Lam believes this trophy can be the start of a sustained period of success for Bristol. He said: “I’m really proud. It’s been a long season and I said to the boys before the game to celebrate who we are as Bristol Bears and what that means – the way we play the game, what our culture means, our love for each other.
“Our whole vision is inspiring the community through rugby success and this is a moment of inspiration. Now we’ve got to go back and get better. That’s the challenge for the staff and players – to get better. We’re growing but there’s a long way for us to go.”
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