London Irish 34-34 Bristol Bears, Community Stadium
London Irish scored three tries in the final quarter as they came from behind to secure a 34-34 draw against Bristol Bears in the 10th round of the Gallagher Premiership at Community Stadium.
Pat Lam's side had a 31-6 lead by the 36th minute but could manage only three points for the remainder of the game as London Irish made a stunning comeback to move to seventh place in the table while Bristol have retained their top position.
Bristol suffered an early setback in the game as Sam Bedlow was sin-binned for a tip tackle on Brophy Clews and Paddy Jackson responded with a penalty goal to make it 3-0.
However, it was total domination from Bristol in the remainder of the first half as despite being down on numerical advantage, they went on to score back to back tries. It was first Charles Piutau, who set up Piers O'Conor for the opening try of the game in the 7th minute and three minutes later another interception allowed Ratu Naulago to dot down.
Callum Sheedy kicked two conversions and a penalty goal as they went on to lead 3-17 at the end of the opening quarter.
The home side were awarded another penalty which Jackson slotted it perfectly in the 25th minute that reduced the arrears to 11 points. The visitors claimed bonus points before the 36th minute as Chris Vui crashed under the posts and an attacking move allowed Naulago to complete his second.
Sheedy once again kicked both the extras as Bristol increased their lead to 6-31 but as the break was approaching lock Steve Mafi brushed away a couple of tackles to touchdown as the teams completed the opening half with a 13-31 scoreline.
As both the teams were desperate for points in the second half, London Irish's chances were dealt a blow with Ben Loader sin-binned in the 56th minute for a deliberate knock on and Sheedy's penalty made it 13-34.
Both teams were reduced to 14 players temporarily when Mitch Eadie was sin-binned for a shoulder charge. Nevertheless, London Irish were relentless with Mafi and Sean O’Brien setting up Theo Brophy Clews over the line and in the 69th minute Nick Phipps also crossed the whitewash making it 27-34.
With momentum on their side, London Irish continued with a series of attack and it was Tom Parton, who brought them close with a 77th minute try while Jackson kicked the decisive conversion to secure a 34-34 draw.
London Irish: Stokes; Loader, Rona, Brophy Clews, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, Meehan; Goodrick-Clarke, Cornish, Chawatama, Mafi, Nott, Rogerson, Cowan, Tuisue.
Reserves: Creevy, Dell, Hoskins, Munga, O'Brien, Phipps, Hepetema, Parton.
Bristol: C Piutau; Morahan, O'Conor, Bedlow, Naulago; Sheedy, Uren; Y Thomas, Capon, Afoa, Holme, Vui, Luatua, D Thomas, Eadie.
Reserves: Kloska, Woolmore, Armstrong, Hawkins, Heenan, Kessell, Lloyd, Leiua.
Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.
12 teams compete in the league over a season, playing every team both home and away, before four move into the playoffs and one is relegated.
The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?
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