Harlequins 28-53 Bristol Bears – Bristol Run Rampant After Quins Second Half Collapse

By George Davis

Harlequins fell to a late second half collapse to lose 28-53 to a rampant Bristol Bears side at The Stoop. Both sides failed to qualify for the play-offs as Sale secured a stunning away win at Saracens to keep both in the bottom of the top four.

Despite the play-off drama there was plenty of emotion running through the veins of the players before kickoff, Saturdays match a last appearance for many in the Premiership.

The likes of Will Collier, Louis Lynagh and Andre Esterhuizen had their final run out in the famous quarters (Although at that time they did not know it) and Callum Sheedy, Kyle Sinckler and Magnus Bradbury donning the Bears shirt for the last time as well.

Kyle Sinckler of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Bristol Bears at the Recreation Ground on 17 November 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Buoyed by putting on a show for their departees, Bristol scored with just a minute on the clock. Pat Lam’s side did well to flood to wide channels of a line out and found Gabriel Ibitoye in a bit too much space for Quin’s liking. The former Harlequin powered through several tackles before finding James Williams a phase later to dive over in the corner.

And a game between two of the Premiership’s great entertainers would soon live up to its billing. Chandler Cunningham-South going over after some nice subtlety from Alex Dombrandt after a barnstorming Andre Esterhuizen run freed the back rower to score.

The back-and-forth nature of the first half would then ensue as neither side were able to gain a solid grasp on the game.

Ellis Genge of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium, Leicester on 27 April 2024. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

Ellis Genge clearly didn’t take too nicely to Will Collier’s dummy back in 2021 and decided to do one himself. The England international sent several Quins defenders to the shop after some nice interplay around the breakdown brought them into firing range.

Genge then thought he had another later after a wonderful break down the middle of the park by the prop, but Thacker was adjudged to have not released the ball before getting back and Harlequins were spared their blushes.

Danny Wilson’s side then showed a patience about them that we hadn’t really seen from them before, Alex Dombrandt going over after some repeated pressure near the west country’s sideline.

Gabriel Ibitoye of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Saracens at Ashton Gate on 11 May 2024. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

The former Quin Ibitoye returned once again to haunt the home side, a loose ball from Cunningham-South fell into the hands of the speedster who made no mistake finishing under the sticks.

A reshuffle in the backline for Bristol was then in order, last month’s player of the month Benhard Janse van Rhensburg was taken off injured and Callum Sheedy was also subbed off due to an injury. Genge also followed suit after a strong start to the game.

Harlequins once again fell asleep shortly after halftime, a marauding Joe Batley breaking from well inside his own half before Quins conceded at the breakdown. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and Harry Thacker put Bristol ahead by 12 from the driving maul and giving them the try bonus point.

Luke Northmore of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham Stoop, London on Sunday 22nd October 2023 (PHOTO: George Beck/PPAUK)

The re-organization in Pat Lam’s backline soon took notice for the wrong reasons though, a misplaced pass from the makeshift fly half Max Malins fell to the ground, Luke Northmore then kicked through to put Quins right back into it.

What seemed an all important bonus point would soon come for the west Londoners, Dombrandt bumping off a line off Bristolians before finding Oscar Beard who took them to within five. Cunningham-South then powered his way over from close range to round off an afternoon of scoring tries and smashing people to cement his England credentials.

A James Williams penalty brought the visitors back ahead by a point and then they really turned the heat back on. Max Lahiff powered over from close range to put the Bears ahead by eight.

Williams then added another penalty before the style arrived in full force, Malins breaking from his own 22 to go the majority of the pitch and he found Noah Heward on his shoulder to race in and finish a wonderful score.

Try Celebrations for Max Malins of Bristol Bears as he goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Northampton Saints at Ashton Gate on 22 March 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

It wasn’t quite done yet as Gabriel Oghre benefitted off the back of the rolling maul from close range to put Bristol past the half century.

A late flurry of attacks from Harlequins would come to nothing and finish their season with a loss.

A rollercoaster ride for the Quins fans this season after an impressive showing in Europe, but they left themselves with too much to do and you felt like with the players leaving, their best chance was this year.

It’s a shame neither of these sides could make the playoffs, but what a show they have put on for us across the whole season.

The post Harlequins 28-53 Bristol Bears – Bristol Run Rampant After Quins Second Half Collapse appeared first on Ruck.

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