Bristol end 37-year wait for silverware with Challenge Cup triumph

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, FRANCE (AFP) – Bristol won their first piece of silverware since 1983 on Friday when they defeated Toulon in the European Challenge Cup final.

The English side’s 32-19 victory over the French giants was their maiden continental crown.

It was a third defeat in the final of Europe’s second-tier tournament for Toulon after losses in the 2010 and 2012 showpieces.

“We got put under pressure by a quality Toulon side, but we stuck to it and came through with our game plan to see ourselves through to a win,” Bristol coach Pat Lam told BT Sport.

“Collectively, we’ve grown tonight. It’s a great achievement for us to win a trophy, but there’s still so much more to come from this group.” Toulon captain Anthony Etrillard regretted the opening-minute try which his team conceded.

“The start was very bad, but we should remember the reaction of the team. We could have sunk but we took the lead at half-time,” said the hooker.

“We made mistakes that let them come back into the game and, against a team like Bristol, that is expensive.

“It was small details. It will help us grow, there will be other finals.”

Bristol stormed into a 10-0 lead on the back of a try after just 20 seconds on the plastic pitch at Aix.

Former Toulon star and Fiji international centre Semi Radradra set scrum-half Harry Randall free on the inside to score.

Bristol Bears’ Jordan Crane and Alapati Leiua hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate victory. PHOTO: AFP