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Bristol Bears will hope to keep pace with the EPCR Challenge Cup Pool A frontrunners when they travel to Zebre Parma on Saturday.
Bristol are third after two rounds, beating USAP (19-5) and Zebre (35-19) to pick up nine points, though they’ll be keen to secure a third straight win to boost their hopes of home advantage in the knockout stage.
Zebre may have fallen to back-to-back defeats, but they were tough adversaries when RC Toulon visited Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Round 1, going down 24-21 to the EPCR heavyweights.
The Italian side are seeking their first victory of the season to keep their qualification hopes alive, while Bristol have picked up one win and one defeat in the Gallagher Premiership since their Round 2 contest.
The match at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and can be viewed on epcrugby.tv and FloRugby.
Guess who’s back…
Here’s the lie of the land heading into #ChallengeCupRugby R3 this weekend ⬇️ https://t.co/JjPPmldGIp
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 9, 2023
- Zebre have conceded the most turnovers in the competition (3&), with Taina-Fox Matamua and Tiff Eden conceding five each.
- Andrea Zambonin has made four lineout steals in the tournament so far, three of which came in Round 2.
- MJ Pelser has won the most jackal penalties in the competition to date. In attack, Zebre have the highest rate of ball retention at the ruck (99 per cent).
- Gabriel Ibitoye has missed eight tackles in the competition so far, and currently has a tackle success rate of 27 per cent.
- Semi Radradra has made the most carries (20), metres (79), gainline successes (10), and has beaten the most defenders (seven) out of all the players in the Bears squad.
- Bristol have made more kicks (72) and kick metres (2,272) than any other team.
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Bristol Bears scored six second-half tries as they won 34-11 at Zebre Parma on Saturday to seal their progression to the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 with a game to spare.
Harry Thacker grabbed a hat-trick of scores at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi along with further efforts from Ioan Lloyd, Fitz Harding and Magnus Bradbury.
Zebre led at the break thanks to two Tiff Eden penalties, but the Italian outfit were undone following the restart.
Thacker notched his first on 43 minutes before Lloyd went over nine minutes later, though Zebre hit back through Simone Gesi’s score on the hour mark.
No. of tries:
2️⃣ First 10 minutes of the Second-Half @BristolBears have gone over twice, this match is heating up… 🔥
Watch LIVE on https://t.co/cI5BzWKKwq and @FloRugby#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/pyb9MieP43
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 14, 2023
But the hosts were overrun in the final 15 minutes as Thacker dotted down again before Luca Rizzoli was yellow-carded.
That opened the floodgates for Bristol as Thacker, Harding and Bradbury all crossed in the closing stages.
Fly-half Callum Sheedy had an off day for Bristol, converting only two of his side’s six tries.
Bristol host USAP on Friday as they look to conclude their Pool A campaign with a fourth straight win and secure top seeding for the knockout stage, while winless Zebre visit RC Toulon on the same day.
Live Match Summary
MPU – Left Column – English
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