|Bristol (10) 32|
|Tries: Randall, Malins Cons: Sheedy 2 Pens: Sheedy 6|
|Toulon (16) 19|
|Try: Heem Con: Carbonel Pens: Carbonel 4|
Bristol Bears won their first European trophy as they beat French side Toulon in the Challenge Cup final in France.
Harry Randall’s try after 15 seconds set the West Country club on their way to their first major honour since 1983.
Powerful Toulon hit back to lead 16-10 at the break but a resolute second-half effort from Pat Lam’s men won the game.
Max Malins’ well-worked try and Callum Sheedy’s boot saw the Bears eventually earn a comfortable win in front of 1,000 spectators in Aix-en-Provence.
The Bears’ famous win came six days after their 47-24 loss to Wasps in the Premiership semi-final, although their season may yet be extended as it was confirmed on Friday that Bristol
Lam’s side had been without six injured players in France, including star names Charles Piutau (Achilles) and Nathan Hughes (ribs), while captain Steven Luatua was absent because his partner gave birth to a baby girl on Friday.
But they were the better team against a club who were aiming for their fourth European trophy, having won the Champions Cup three times in a row between 2013 and 2015.
The French side also reached the Challenge Cup final in 2010 and 2012, whereas Bristol were in their first-ever continental final, having only won promotion back to the English top flight as recently as 2018.
The match was played on a quick-flowing surface on an artificial 4G pitch, but it was the Bears who made a rapid start as Fiji star Semi Radradra’s pace and quick hands helped set up Randall to score from the first move after kick-off.
Bryce Heem crossed for Toulon in their best spell and the boot of Louis Carbonel kicked them into a six-point half-time lead, although Bristol saw two first-half tries disallowed.
Harry Thacker thought he had scored off a driving maul but replays showed the grounding had been fumbled, not long before Joe Joyce crossed brilliantly in the corner, but his try was also chalked off for a forward pass.
However, Toulon could not stop Malins bursting over the line in the second half and then Lam’s side’s dominance at the scrum gave Sheedy the chances to kick the Bears 13 points clear in the latter stages.
Bristol Bears: Malins; Morahan, Radradra, S Piutau (capt), Leiua; Sheedy, Randall; Y Thomas, Thacker, Sinckler, Attwood, Joyce, Vui, D Thomas, Earl.
Replacements: Kloska, Woolmore, Afoa, Holmes, Heenan, Kessell, O’Conor, Adeolokun.
Toulon: Cordin; Heem, Toeava, Paia’aua, Villiere; Carbonel, Serin; Gros, Etrillard, Gigashvili, Etzebeth, Taofifenua, Ollivon, Lakafia, Parisse.
Replacements: Soury, Fresia, Setiano, Alainu’uese, Rebbadj, Ory, Takulua, Dakuwaqa.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)