Bordeaux 36-17 Bristol: Bear’s newest England squad falls victim to French Champions Cup domination … while Mathieu inspires Jalibert Begles to victory with 24 points
- Bristol Bears became the third English team to crash against a French team
- The French fly-half Matthieu Jalibert was in inspired form, scoring 24 points
- Joseph Dwebe tore through the Bears’ hearts to secure the crucial effort
Bristol Bears became the latest England side to fall victim to growing French rule at the Heineken Champions Cup.
Gloucester had already been crushed by La Rochelle and Wasps denied death by Clermont Auvergne. Champions Exeter were the only England team to break through the losing streak.
Bordeaux-Begles and France fly-half Matthieu Jalibert continued the bleak run, scoring 24 points as the west coast fighters stole away the Premiership table toppers to make their very first quarter-final of the top league.
Bristol Bears were the third England team to lose to a French team in the Champions Cup
French teams now have five of eight quarter-final slots, but Bristol remained angry over a major late decision that pushed them to the exit.
Trailing 22-17 and with an injured Semi Radradra on the ground, the French smelled blood as Joseph Dweba tore through the Bears’ heart to score the crucial attempt.
But on the other hand, Bordeaux-Begles had turned the ball over after a clear knock-on of their No. 8 Scott Higginbotham.
Referee Mike Adamson and his TMO were blind to it, despite watching multiple replays. Bristol’s Callum Sheedy was livid when the attempt was confirmed. ‘Are you serious?’ he asked.
Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam called for clarity from referee manager Joel Jutge amid allegations that clever French camera angles had saved Bordeaux-Begles.
Austin Healey said afterwards on BT Sport: ‘There are at least 14 cameras and the French director only gave him a view of three. That is unacceptable and must be looked into. Lam said, ‘Everyone was very clear it was a knock on.
‘The players are 100 percent when that happens, but suddenly there is no footage. There are more than two cameras. We have to work on that with Joel.
Without it, it’s a one-score game. We win or we learn, ”added Lam. “A lot of teams that have those stars on their shirts watch their travels. It’s hard to take, but we’ll learn.
Matthieu Jalibert inspired Bordeaux-Begles to victory on Sunday with 24 points against Bristol
“But there is frustration – we had a chance to win.” Within seven minutes, they had a nerve-racking attempt, as Henry Purdy drove in from behind on the left after quick work.
After that, however, it turned into a blood-curdling battle between two young Test flying halves, with the French Jalibert and the Wales Sheedy taking five and three penalties respectively.
The last from Bordeaux was against Nathan Hughes, who got into chaos on the side, pushing the French side into a lean halftime lead.
For upwardly mobile Bristol – who were neither ‘Bears’ nor ‘Rugby’ but ‘Shoguns’ when they last had relative success in the Heineken Cup and finished second in their 2002-03 pool – winning this would be a triumph been.
But after halftime Bristol was in a fight for scrap metal. Jalibert scored when he dove for the line amid a pile of bodies – initially ruled out by referee Adamson, but toppled after a ‘clear grounding’ was found on judgment – which he converted to push the French lead to eight.
Bristol turned down a kickable penalty in search of more, which paid off almost immediately. Purdy looked again, but for an exceptional last-ditch tackle from full-back Romain Buros, who knocked the ball out of his hands when he grounded out.
The Bears took the three points the next time, Sheedy kicked them in five with 25 minutes to go.
Joseph Dweba scored the crucial attempt in the match to advance Bordeaux to the next round
‘Form’ and ‘patience’ were the constant buzzes coming from the sidelines, but despite Jalibert missing an easy penalty, Bristol lost both by ticking time.
When Kane Douglas fouled after repeated fouls from Bordeaux, Bristol appeared to have their opening – with one man entering the final stage. But then the killer popped as Dweba scored his hotly contested attempt.
Out of desperation, Bristol slot Chris Vui threw an unnecessary interception at Bordeaux, who now also had Cyril Cazeaux in the bin, who ran in Nans Ducuing and switched Maxime Lucu on the buzzer to complete the win.