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Bristol Bears return home for Round 2 of the EPCR Challenge Cup – and will look to continue their winning ways against Zebre Parma at Ashton Gate.
2020 EPCR Challenge Cup winners Bristol kicked off this season’s campaign by grinding out a 19-5 victory at USAP, requiring a big defensive effort to keep out their hosts after the break.
Zebre Parma showed they will be no walkover as they ran three-time EPCR champions RC Toulon close in Round 1, ultimately going down 24-21 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Bristol last played Zebre in the pool stage of their triumphant 2019/20 campaign, and were held to a 7-7 draw in Parma.
The Pool A match kicks off at 13:00 (UK & Irish time) at Ashton Gate on Sunday and is available to view on epcrugby.tv and FloRugby.
Big @bundeeaki12 is back for @connachtrugby 💪
While Jack Dempsey returns for @GlasgowWarriors and Pieter Jansen van Vuren for @LionsRugbyCo 🙌
R2 #ChallengeCupRugby Friday night team news ➡️ https://t.co/xoJjWma0Bu pic.twitter.com/SbLSa2mBeL
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) December 15, 2022
Bristol fly-half AJ MacGinty: “I think that’s a big focus moving into next week, the breakdown and the accuracy of that, the numbers we can clear out and keep boys on their feet. “That’s definitely a focus and then just the patience.
“I think we got ourselves into great positions on the pitch [against USAP] and it didn’t go our way, and then maybe there was a lull and a lack of focus and they managed to out of their 22.”
- Bristol made more offloads than any other team in Round 1 (11).
- They also had the most kicks charged down in the opening round (three).
- Zebre Parma missed the most tackles in Round 1 (29).
- Against RC Toulon, they made seven kicks that were retained – more than any other team.
- They only lost one attacking ruck in Round 1, making their ball retention at the ruck a round-high 98 per cent.
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Bristol eased to a bonus-point win in the EPCR Challenge Cup as they defeated Zebre Parma 35-19 at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
The Gallagher Premiership side crossed through Joe Batley, Will Porter, Semi Radradra, Ioan Lloyd and Yann Thomas.
Zebre were well beaten, but notched through a penalty try and second-half efforts from Kobus van Wyk and Jacques du Toit.
Bristol took the lead on 14 minutes as lock Batley capitalised on a comedy of errors from Zebre under their own posts, but the hosts hit back moments later as they were awarded a penalty try following a deliberate knock-on from Lloyd.
Things we love to see…
Semi Radradra offloading like a BOSS 💪
Yann Thomas with the pace of a winger 🔥
Take a bow boys 👏#ChallengeCupRugby | @BristolBears pic.twitter.com/7bqdMxuKwM
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) December 18, 2022
The centre was sent to the sin bin for the infringement, but Bristol were undeterred, crossing through scrum-half Porter and centre Radradra while down to 14 men.
There was redemption for Llyod as he dotted down to secure the bonus point on 33 minutes, and replacement prop Thomas added a fifth a quarter of an hour into the second half after an outrageous offload from Radradra.
Zebre would grab consolation scores through wing van Wyk and replacement hooker du Toit, the latter coming in the closing minutes after Batley was sent to the sin bin.
Round 3 sees the two sides go head-to-head once again, this time at Zebre’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on January 14.
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