Premier League: Saracens 20-19 Bristol Bears: Leaders come from behind to win

Theo Dan scored Saracens’ first try to kick-start the comeback against Bristol
Saracens (0) 20
Samples: Dan, Segun, Hougaard Fool: Good ones Pen: Good ones
Bristol (8) 19
Samples: Thacker, Ibitoye Pens: MacGinty, Williams 2

Francois Hougaard scored a last-minute try as Saracens came from behind to beat Bristol 20-19.

An AJ MacGinty penalty and Harry Thacker try gave Bristol the lead in a poor first half.

James Williams and Alex Goode traded penalties before a Theo Dan try reduced the gap to four points.

Gabriel Ibitoye’s try 10 minutes from time made it nine points for Bristol, but Rotimi Segun hit back and Hougaard crossed at the death to clinch victory.

Saracens extended their unbeaten run at the StoneX Stadium to 14 games and extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points, while Bristol remain bottom but took away a dropped bonus point to close the gap to two points on Bath above them.

But Sarries were far from their best and missing a number of international players – including seven England caps – they took 51 minutes to get any points on the board.

MacGinty’s early penalty gave the Bears the lead, but the visitors’ struggle in attack this season – they have the worst points difference of any team in the league – was all too evident. They dominated possession and territory for most of the first half, but were held to three points for most of it.

Semi Radradra broke down the blindside and eventually crossed the tryline only to have it chalked off for a knock-on and Rich Lane was denied by a Duncan Taylor tackle a few yards out.

Ibitoye fell short when he tried to dive over after a line-out at close range before hooker Thacker finally scored seconds later, turning over for a maul at the end of the first half.

MacGinty missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty, but center James Williams – making his first Premier League start for Bristol – stepped up to convert a long-range penalty and extend the lead to 11 points.

Goode finally put Saracens on the board with his own seconds later, but Williams got another as the penalty count went up against the hosts.

Dan scored from a maul to fire Sarries but Ibitoye looked set to seal the win for Bristol with his own try in the corner as their forwards drew in the Saracens defence.

The leaders proved why they have been so dominant this season as Segun crossed to set up a tense final.

With Bristol’s defense rattled and the hosts increasing the pressure, Hougaard broke Bristol’s hearts with the last play of the game as Sarries moved the ball wide from a line-out to score in the corner.

Saracens: Goode, Segun, Lozowski, Taylor, Lewington, M. Vunipola, Davies; Hislop, Dan, Judge, Kitchener, Tizard, Christie, Wray (c), B. Vunipola.

Replacements: Pifeleti, Mawi, Clarey, Boo, Ellis, Van Zyl, Tompkins, Hougaard.

Bristol Bears: Lane, Naulago, Radradra, Williams, Ibitoye, MacGinty, Randall; Thomas, Thacker, Lahiff, Batley, Vui, Luatua (c), Heenan, Bradbury.

Replacements: Byrne, Woolmore, Benz-Salomon, Holmes, Harding, Uren, Sheedy, Bates.

Judge: Anthony Woodthorpe.

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