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Match Report: Bristol Bears 33 – 17 Loughborough Lightning

Loughborough Lightning were defeated under the Friday night lights at Ashton Gate, as Bristol Bears claimed a 33-17 victory in Round 12 of Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby.

The hosts were three tries to two up at the break thanks to scores from Simi Pam, Lana Skeldon and Abby Ward, with Lightning claiming two of their through the returning Hallie Taufoou and Sadia Kabeya.

Bears added a further two scores in the second half as Skeldon picked up her second along with one from Evie Gallagher. But Lightning had the final word as Helena Rowland picked up a consolation score for the African Violets inside the final ten minutes. 


It was Lightning that made the brighter start and the returning Emily Scarratt was in the thick of the action in her first game in 13 months, as she grubbered through to Taufoou deep inside the Bristol half, but the second rower’s offload couldn’t find the on-rushing Sadia Kabeya.

After weathering an early storm from the away side, Bristol began to find a foothold in the game and were denied a score 14 minutes in after a sublime last-ditch Ellen Scantlebury tackle. 

But with penalty advantage, the home side opted for the corner, and from the resulting maul, they did have the first try of the contest. Lightning initially stopped the Bears maul, but prop Pam broke away and dived over. Amber Reed added the extras from out wide and Bristol were up by seven.

The hosts continued to press after their opening score, but it was Lightning who hit back. After an initial Scarratt break, Rowland kicked a penalty to the corner. The ball was whipped wide off the back with Bulou Mataitoga making ground and coming up just short. But upon the recycle, Taufoou crashed over from a metre out. Rowland knocked over the simple conversion from in front of the posts, and the scores were level.

Bristol hit back almost immediately though through hooker Skeldon, who drove over from a rolling maul after Lightning prop Katie Trevarthan had been yellow carded. Shortly afterwards, Abby Ward crashed over from a couple of metres out.

Lightning didn’t lie down though and had their second try of the game on the stroke of half-time. Similarly to last time out against Leicester, the rolling maul bared fruit from five metres out with Kabeya the try scorer. Rowland’s conversion hit the post and Lightning trailed by seven points at the break.


Bears were the quickest off the mark in the second 40 as Skeldon picked up her second score of the contest from another dominant maul. Reed added the extras and Bears extended their lead to 14.

Lightning thought they had replied five minutes later as Kabeya crashed over the line, only to be held up, and the scores remained the same.

With 20 minutes to go, Lightning were back down to 14 players, as captain Rachel Malcolm was yellow carded for a high tackle.

The home side took full advantage as flanker Gallagher sniped from close range to grab Bristol’s fifth score of the evening.

The African Violets were looking for a spark going into the final ten minutes, and that spark came through replacement Carmela Morrell. The centre scythed her way through the Bristol defence and was brought down ten metres out. Lightning continued to make ground through the forwards and a couple of phases later, Helen Nelson fed Rowland who dotted down in the corner for a deserved score.

The away side pushed hard for a bonus point score in the dying embers, but Bristol held firm to seal the victory.

Next up for Lightning is a return to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens as they face Sale Sharks on Sunday 3 March (kick-off: 3pm). Tickets are available by clicking HERE.



BRISTOL: 15 Lovibond, 14 Bonner, 13 Smith, 12 Reed (cc), 11 Varley, 10 Aitchison, 9 Bevan; 1 Pam, 2 Skeldon, 3 Clarke, 4 Burns, 5 Ward (cc), 6 Joyce-Butchers, 7 Gallagher, 8 Marston-Mulhearn

Replacements: 16 Atkin-Davies, 17 Botterman, 18 Phillips, 19 Cunningham, 20 Balogun, 21 Burgess, 22 Murray, 23 Hesketh

LIGHTNING: 15 Nelson, 14 Scantlebury, 13 Mataitoga, 12 Scarratt, 11 Westcombe-Evans, 10 Rowland, 9 Davey; 1 Trevarthen, 2 Treder, 3 Belisle, 4 Ives Campion, 5 Taufoou, 6 Malcolm (c), 7 Kabeya, 8 Hibbert-Jones (vc)

Replacements: 16 Meuller, 17 Williams, 18 Wells, 19 Duguid, 20 Svoboda, 21 Weaver, 22 Morrall, 23 Williams-Morris



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