Premiership: Bristol Bears beat Newcastle Falcons but miss out on sixth

Charles Piutau
Charles Piutau scored the first of Bristol's three tries at Kingston Park
Gallagher Premiership
Newcastle Falcons (0) 14
Tries: Graham, Williams Con: Hodgson
Bristol Bears (5) 19
Tries: Piutau, O'Connor, Lam Cons: Sheedy 2

Bristol Bears ended their first season back in the Premiership with a victory at relegated Newcastle Falcons.

The Bears started the day with an outside chance of qualifying for next season's European Champions Cup, but ultimately finish the campaign ninth.

Bristol, needing a bonus-point win to stay in contention, led 5-0 at half-time through Charles Piutau's try.

Piers O'Connor and Jack Lam crossed after the break, before Gary Graham and Johnny Williams scored consolations.

Newcastle, who end the season 10 points adrift of 11th-placed Leicester Tigers, must now prepare for life in the Championship after a six-year spell in the top flight.

When Bristol themselves were relegated from the Premiership two years ago, their newly appointed head coach Pat Lam ambitiously stated at the time that he wanted to lead the Ashton Gate side into the Champions Cup.

Although they have ultimately fallen short of that goal in 2018-19, their subsequent promotion and comeback campaign - which has included nine league victories - will surely provide a blueprint for the Falcons to follow.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:

"It's a disappointing end to the season.

"They were a side aiming for the top six and we were a side already relegated, so it was always going to be a difficult game.

We're making the opportunities and we just don't have the accuracy to finish them off. That's probably been the story of the season.

"We are now looking at boys who want to be here for the Championship next season and who want to put it in their performance and improve on that accuracy."

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam:

"We're disappointed to have missed out on the chance of finishing sixth.

"We blew so many chances to get that extra point [in matches] and we have missed out on a few points this season. But what this does is give us the confidence going forward.

"We've competed right through the season, bar the Worcester game, and I'm extremely proud of what we've done because there was a lot to tidy up off the field; our culture, our vision, and everyone understanding where we're trying to go.

"I'm now really looking forward to pre-season after a short break because there are so many guys coming back and only a few leaving."

Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Kibirige, Harris, Williams, Radwan; Hodgson, Young (capt); Lockwood, McGuigan, Mulipola, Green, Robinson, Chick, Graham, Nagusa.

Replacements: Socino, Davison, Wilson, Olmstead, Blamire, Stuart, Flood, Matavesi.

Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Leiua, O'Conor, S Piutau (co-capt), Daniels; Sheedy, Randall; Lay, Thacker, Afoa, Holmes, Vui, Luatua (co-capt), Thomas, Haining.

Replacements: Kloska, Woolmore, Thiede, Lam, Smith, Stirzaker, Pisi, Protheroe.

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