By Paul Bryant
March 11 2019

The main talking point of the first away win of the season will be the succession of yellow cards in a dramatic closing few minutes of the game, but the truth is Bristol took an early lead and, although the hosts managed to overhaul it, they were never able to shake off a dogged Bristol side and left themselves vulnerable to a late score.

A high scoring encounter was predicted and, in fact, both sides secured try bonus points.  Bristol took the game to their hosts early on and tries from Joe Batley and Jordan Crane gave Bristol a 12-nil lead.  Bately’s try was particularly fine with his second row partner Chris Vui making an excellent offload to allow Bately to canter over.  Northampton struck back via the substantial form of Naiyaravoro.

Tries in quick succession at the start of the second half from Tuala and Furbank saw Saints take the lead, but Bristol struck back with an excellent break by Piers O’Conor   that was finished off by Harry Randall.  However, a lax pass from the scrum-half was seized by the intercept king, Reinach, who sprinted in beneath the posts for a converted try.

With the game entering its closing stage Bristol were looking for a way back into the game.  A quickly taken penalty from Randall saw Reinach yellow carded for not retreating.  Bristol went for touch and, as they attempted to drive for the line, Gibson also went to the sin-bin for pulling down the maul.  Unsurprisingly Bristol went for touch again but the surprising result was yet another yellow card with Woods coming in at the side right in front of the referee.  Bristol then opted to take the scrum against the depleted hosts and we were treated to the sight of a remarkable fourth yellow card as Northampton struggled to prevent Bristol driving over.  Down to 11 men it was hard to recall that Northampton were still in front.  Surely the referee was thinking of a penalty try? 

In any event Bristol managed to take it out of his hands when Madigan exploited the lack of defenders to set O’Conor who went over to equalise the score.  With the clock well in the red  Ian Madigan had to step up to take a far from straightforward kick that would give Bristol the win.  He was utterly nerveless and the conversion bisected the posts for a remarkable win and five points away from home.