Bristol Bears 22-12 Sale Sharks
The sight of Bristol's Clara Nielson calling out to the club's physio for fresh tampons to replace the bloodied ones she had shoved up her nose epitomised the brutality of her side's hard-fought victory over Sale.
It was Nielson's front-row colleague Simi Pam who stole the show. Receiving the ball just outside Bristol’s 22, the full-time medic scored a mesmerising second-half try hardly typical of a loosehead prop.
Shrugging off a handful of defenders, she turbo-charged some 60 metres down the pitch and over the whitewash.
“This is a real squad effort from everyone on and off the field. We’ve got some really special players and Simi Pam is one of those,” said Tom Lindsay, Bristol’s interim co-head coach.
“The minute she scored I thought 'We’re going to have to take her off, because she’d be dead for the next 10 minutes.' But she did her job, she put everything into the game and that’s what we want from the players.”
The win - Bristol's first at home this season and fourth of the campaign - will inject some much-needed confidence into the club, who parted ways with former head coach Kim Oliver last month.
Sale never looked out of the contest and repeatedly responded each time they found themselves playing catch-up, with Vicky Irwin sneaking over minutes after Pam’s moment of individual brilliance.
The visitors had Bristol camped in their own 22 for much of the second half, during which Phoebe Murray and Kayleigh Powell tag-teamed to hold them up on the line, a microcosm of how Sale failed to turn pressure into points all afternoon.
They had taken an early lead through Lauren Delany, only to be pegged back by some quick-thinking from Bristol scrum-half Lucy Burgess, who burst through a gap in Sale’s porous defence to dot down under the uprights.
Sale missed the chance to close the deficit through a Katy Daley-Mclean penalty before Powell careered down the right flank to score, as the hosts went into the break with a 12-point advantage.
The visitors squandered a golden chance when Delany fumbled a high ball that was flung her way, just as the Irish international was metres from the chalk, to leave the Premier 15s newcomers languishing ninth in the table.
“Are we the finished picture? Absolutely not, but this was a huge step up and the girls deserve to enjoy the win, [they] have put some serious effort in this week,” Lindsay said.