A season in which Bath did not win any away matches.
Provisional Trial Teams were: – S Archard, L Matthews, J Windridge (South African), R James, W Hancock, C Gough, G Parfitt, A R Smith (Chippenham), A Ash, L Phillips, L Moore, T Wilkins, F Samborne (Sandhurst), A Francis, L Wiggins (Keynsham and Cotham Park).
C Frankcom, D Whiting, A Merrett, R P Royle, D C Royle (Melksham), K Turner, J Bowen, D Wilson, H Oak, A Weeks, R Foss (Clifton), D Campbell, W Parfitt, E Holmes and H Davis.
Also R Weiss, J C Catesby, E Hughes, N Thomas, G Foster and W Hollingdale.
v Swansea, Home. Lost 0-9. Team:- R W James, L D Wardle, A E Merrett, R A Gerrard, L G Matthews, K O Turner, H Davis, D Wilson, H Oak, A Weeks, K G Foss, L W Moore, P Moon, L Wiggins and A Francis.
TANNER AND DAVIES v BATH
Swansea included the brilliant young half-back combination of Haydn Tanner and W T H Davies, both destined to serve Wales so well. The whole of the Swansea play was centred around these two elusive youngsters. By comparison, the Bath halves had an indifferent game, but to be fair, they were given little chance behind a pack, which was out-weighted and out-manoeuvred. It was hard to imagine a more difficult game with which to open the season. “Beaten in front, beaten in mid-field, what chance did the home three-quarters have?”
“The try Swansea did score through Davies, the youthful stand-off half, would have puzzled any defence to prevent. His ‘will-0′-the wisp’ course from a close-in scrum took him swerving and feinting past one obstacle and then another, and defenders were pawing in the air, without so much as a finger being put on him.
This was at the end of 22 minutes of the first half, and, as the try was right behind the posts, Harris had no difficulty in converting.
It was as it should be that the other half, Tanner, who is as wily as he is young, should supply the other score five minutes from the end. A quick service, a pretence to pass, a sudden change of direction, a drop at goal, and the ball was travelling over the bar.
It was all part of the quick-wittedness, which the pair displayed throughout. They did the unexpected, and were the real and effective pivot of the side. They have the skill of veterans and the speedy mind of youth.
A brilliant combination, and a crowd of three thousand, enjoyed their exhibition, even if it were at the expense of their own players, and gave them a full mead of vocal praise for their mastery of the finer art of the game.”
For Bath, Kenneth Foss was: “a tremendous worker in tight and loose, and he and Weeks never spared themselves for a single ‘breather.” James put in a competent performance at full-back. Peter Moon was the pick of the back row.
v Bedford, Away. Lost 8-26. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, A E Merrett, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, L D Wardle, K Parfitt, D Wilson, H Oak, A Weeks, K G Foss, L W Moore, P Moon, L Wiggins and A Francis. After leading 8-3 at the interval, Bath slumped to a defeat by 2 goals, 1 drop goal, 1 penalty and 2 tries, to a goal and a try. Bedford were at full strength and in fine form. Bath had been forced to replace the injured Davies, with K Parfitt. Conditions were more appropriate to cricket than for rugby. “Bath attacked with enterprise and dash and the forwards were full of vim.” The visitors were very popular with the Bedford crowd, and a good open game was in prospect. Bedford were the first to score with an unconverted try by Lyttle. Next Gerrard and Merrett figured in positive play, until Les Matthews was pulled down short of the line. Both Merrett and Hancock resorted to cross-kicking in order to change the line of attack. Bedford packed 3-4-1, but were by no means superior to the Bath eight, who remained full of life. Wardle just missed with a drop goal attempt, and on the half hour, Merrett scored a clever opportunist try for Bath, after a quick heel. Oak added the extras. A minute later, Gerrard crossed after a great run: “Starting from the half-line he swept aside opponent after opponent and bullocked over half-way between the posts and the corner flag.” Oak missed the conversion and the teams crossed over with Bath leading 8-3.
Into the second half, and Bedford were soon on level terms when the Milman brothers profited from an interception. Williams converted, and added a touchline penalty 15 minutes later. Bedford continued to dominate, to the extent that Bath were played out of contention, as the Bedford tally rose to 26 points, without further reply.
v Devonport Services, Away. Lost 0-20. Team:- R W James, L Wiggins, J R Windridge, P Fortt, W E Hancock, L D Wardle, H Davies, D Wilson, H Oak, A Weeks, L Phillips, K G Foss, H Davies, L W Moore and A Francis.
Without Gerrard, Merrett, Les Matthews, Moon and Wood, Bath again tasted defeat to the tune of 2 goals, 2 tries and a drop goal, without reply.
The conditions were ideal. Before the game, the Bath officials paid particular interest in the sets of rubber corner-flags that had been introduced. The home side had a considerable advantage in the presence of Commander Forrest, who was previously captain of Portsmouth Services. Wardle, Hancock and Francis spearheaded the Bath effort, with a mixture of handling and dribbling, whilst Hancock brought off a try saving tackle, but overall, the Bath threes showed little thrust, and no serious challenges to the Services side. “The Devonport side were well on top, excelling in the line-outs. They also threw the ball about with life and ran strongly, Bath sorely missed Gerrard, especially in defence.” They were disappointing.
v Llanelly, Home, Lost 0 –34. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, A E Merrett, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, L D Wardle, H Davies, D Wilson, H Oak, A Weeks, D Campbell, K G Foss, J S Wood, P Moon and L W Moore.
Llanelly, including three internationals, requested that the play be 40 minutes each way, instead of the then usual 35, and wished to treat the game as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for their All Blacks encounter on the 22nd October. Bath were at full strength, but were nevertheless, thrashed to the tune of 4 goals, 2 tries and 2 drop goals without reply. Llanelly’s captain, the wily, Ifor John was at his best, with glorious out-of hand and place kicking. Bath were soon out of their depth, with the visitors’ rapid rate of scoring. Twice Les Matthews made determined efforts to break away and forwards, Wilson, Oak and Weeks, ‘foot-slogged’ the ball into the Llanelly 25. However, Bath never really looked like breaking the Welshmen’s strangle hold, and much of their play was purposeless. They were 0-13 down by half-time, and could do little right in the second spell. Their misery was confounded when Harry Oak had to leave the field. Towards the end, Dai John kicked two drop goals with consummate ease. It was not, and never would be, Bath’s day – against such talented opposition.
Accepted, the superb quality of the visiting outfit, it was significantly, a game where Bath put in a very poor performance.
“The ball ran badly, passes were dropped, passes were faultily given, players hung on when they should have parted, others parted when they should have made ground; there was a lot of diagonal running; the following-up was ineffective, and the score looked as remote as the stars, for all their endeavour.
On the other hand, everything came off for the visitors-Tinplaters they call them, but as a matter of fact the thriving industry of the pace today is making Belisha beacons. The way they found crossings of the Bath line suggested that they needed no beacons to guide them.”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – ABSENCE OF TEAMWORK
There was continued criticism in the local Press, and one writer insisted that the main problem was lack of teamwork. He highlighted the problem of the: “No play away disease,” in that certain players continually made themselves unavailable for ‘out trips.’
It was felt that the policy should be ‘Bath Rugby for Bath players.’ The writer was fed up with the pre-season anticipation of new players from outside sources: “Bath are going to have one or two first-rate players this season, so they say. There is So-in-So from the Air Force, someone else from the depot of some regiment in the wilds, and so on. The season starts, and occasionally, when available, these gentlemen are introduced, only to upset ‘team work”
v Rosslyn Park, Home. Lost 0-12. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, A E Merrett, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, L D Wardle, H Davies, A Weeks, D Wilson, D Campbell, K G Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, L W Moore and A Francis.
Bath suffered a heavy defeat with the visitors scoring a goal, a drop goal and a try without reply. This reverse, despite extra line-out and dribbling training during the week. In perfect conditions, a large crowd witnessed lively exchanges from the start, as both sides sought to gain ground. Hancock kicked for territory, but good work in the lineout immediately brought play back to the Bath half. Resolute tackling, gave the Bath backs little room to manoeuvre. Bath forwards continued to press, with more life in the loose. Unfortunately, Gerrard was seen to be limping after heavy contact, but he recovered sufficiently to make a mark in-goal. James put in a relieving kick, but excellent Rosslyn Park lineout work, again put Bath on the defensive.
“The visitors were certainly tenacious, and had the great virtue of following up consistently.”
The visitors commenced their scoring spate just before half time, with a converted try. In the second half, a mis-field by James, allowed the visitors in for a second try, and their fate was sealed with a well taken drop goal.
v Bristol, Away, Drawn 0-0. Team:- H T F Buse, J S Bartlett, L G Matthews, R W James, L D Wardle, C E Gough, H Davies, D Wilson, H Oak, L Phillips, K G Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
Crucially, Bath were without Gerrard, who had injured his leg in the Rosslyn Park game.
Conditions – Excellent.
HEADLINE- BIG CROWD WITNESS GRIM STRUGGLE – A selection of match comments:
“The game was fast, keen, hard determined, and Bath battled grimly.” “Gough was playing well and nursed the team with strategic kicks……”
“It was, of course, a battle between the forwards, and Bath stood up splendidly to Bristol’s solid and workmanlike lot.” “It was a stern encounter, if with little outside play, and 8000 people got their thrills out of it.” “Bath, by the way, have not marked better, nor tackled with finer determination, this season.
Bristol tried to come through twice with their feet, but Bath were in fighting form and more than held their own. The battle was sterner than ever, and Bristol supporters were getting anxious at the state of the score sheet.”
“Excitement was higher than ever as both sides fought for victory; but neither could do it.”
After the match, the Referee came to the dressing room, carrying a blood-stained handkerchief.
“Who gave me this tooth on the field? ” he asked.
One player, who shall be nameless, had obviously saved on his dentist’s bill!
v Aldershot Services, Away. Lost 3-8. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R W James, R A Gerrard, J S Bartlett, L D Wardle, H Davies, D Wilson, H Oak, L Phillips, K G Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, B C Barber, and A Francis.
A solitary second half try by scrum-half Davies, was Bath’s second half reply to the Service’s goal and a try, at Aldershot’s reserve ground.
The forwards did not play to their recent form, and Gerrard, still recovering from leg bruising, was, nevertheless the pick of the backs. Buse featured well in defensive play, but the whole side lacked cohesion and attacking power.
The Combined Services played the All-Blacks in the afternoon, and the Bath team and supporters stayed to enjoy the game.
v Clifton, Home, Won 28 –5. Team:- H T F Buse, W E Hancock, R W James, G Foster, L D Wardle, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, D Campbell, K G Foss, P Moon, N W Matthews, and A Francis.
A seven try ‘extravaganza’ from Bath, while Gerrard, Leslie Matthews and J S Wood were playing for Somerset. Tries by N Matthews, Hancock (3), Moon, Wardle and Phillips. Buse converted 2 and kicked a penalty. Hancock’s personal tally of three tries, included one great move, showing that his pace had by no means diminished. Another Hancock try, followed the combined passing efforts of Davies, Gough, Norman Matthews and Wardle.
v United Services, (Portsmouth). Home, Won 19-0. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, J S Wood, K G Foss, T Wilkins, P Moon, N W Matthews, A Francis.
Three tries for Leslie Matthews and two for Bill Hancock. Buse converted two.
It was the Club’s second win of the season. The backs had a field day, with notable performances by Leslie Matthews and Bill Hancock.
v Bridgend, Away, Lost 8 –19. Team:- H T F Buse, L D Wardle, R W James, G Foster, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Ash, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. Attendance 2500.
Western Mail & South Wales News: “W Hancock was the best of the Bath threequarters. He tackled well and made several strong runs along the wing. Gough also played a forceful game for them behind the scrums, and Moon and Norman Matthews were among the best of their forwards.” Bath tries from L Francis and L Phillips, Buse converting the second try.
v Gloucester, Away, Lost 3 – 6. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R W James, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L G Phillips, H Oak, A Ash, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. Prior to the match, the crowd were entertained by a piano accordion band. Bath began convincingly, and were obviously ‘on their mettle.’ Gerrard initiated forceful efforts in which Moon and Oak featured. “There was on the right an aggressive movement that had in it the germ of success, but the whistle put a check to Bath’s eager intentions.”
Bath scored a thoroughly deserved try, just before half time. Davies fed Gough, who cut through the middle with a swerve and change of pace, which left the opposition standing. He ran up to the full back and fed a perfectly timed pass for Gerrard to score. Buse’s conversion attempt was charged down. Bath’s lead was soon matched with a Gloucester penalty goal, and the home side went on to clinch the game with a try by Hook, fifteen minutes into the second half.
v London Welsh, Home, Won 19-0. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, A Ash, K G Foss, J S Wood, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon.
A fine win by 2 goals and 3 tries without reply. Three players named Davies played for the visitors and one for Bath! Bath tries from Hancock, Davies, Gough and Francis (2), with Buse converting two.
Bath pulled themselves together for a good win, after a poor start to the season. Their first three home games had been lost by a margin of 0-55 points. Surprisingly, they won the second three home games by 66-8. “The London Welsh never looked like winning and scarcely ever looked like scoring. Bath, for and aft, were too smart for them, showing a marked superiority in all phases of the game.”
“The Bath forwards were in fine fettle. There was never any stopping for breathers. They kept at it hammer and tongs in tight and in loose, Norman Matthews urging on an ever-willing company.”
Old Edwardian Foster, came in at centre and looked promising. He ran straight and was skilful in giving and taking passes.
v Harlequins, Away, Lost 5 –9. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, A Ash, K G Foss, J S Wood, A Francis, N W Matthews, and E W Holmes. The Quins produced a penalty and 2 tries to Bath’s goal.
Try scored by Leslie Matthews, converted by Gerrard. F W Holmes was on his debut 1st XV game.
Arguably, Harlequins were a little lucky to win, as Bath forwards dominated for much of the game.
Hancock was convinced that he had scored a good try: “and was not alone in that opinion.” The penalty count was 9 times to nil against Bath.
It was, however, a grand game, and a fine experience for some of the younger men.
v London Scottish, Home, Lost 3-13. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R W James, G Foster, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, A Ash, K G Foss, J S Wood, A Francis, N W Matthews, E W Holmes. Gerrard was away on England Trial. Peter Moon was out with knee trouble.
Bath’s fortunes plummeted as the Exciles scored three tries and a drop goal, to a solitary try by Norman Matthews. Holmes had kicked ahead strongly, but the ball was charged down. Norman Matthews was first up to the loose ball and ran fully 20 yards for a great score. However, the Scots soon gained the upper hand, and Bath could not hold a: “sparkling opposition, despite the grand display of their forwards.”
v Northampton, Away. Lost 3-6. Team:- P Fortt, L D Wardle, G Foster, R West, D Whiting, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, L W Moore, J S Wood, A Francis, Rev. J Downard, E W Holmes.
Bath travelled without their regular three-quarter line. Gerrard, Matthews and James were out, and Hancock could not get away from work, due to heavy Christmas trade. In the forwards, Foss and Moon were not available. Northampton were also weakened by County calls. There appeared to be little interest in this match; ten minutes before the start, there were fewer than 100 in the ground. Bath forwards dominated in the early exchanges: “It was a case of scrum and kick, and Bath shone in the kicking.” Bath’s score came from a solitary penalty by Oak when the Saints were adjudged to be off-side. “The visitors’ young team was full of zeal and their marking and tackling deserved the highest praise.”
v Old Blues, Home. Won 8-5. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R West, R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, T R Harris, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews, K Weiss. Gerrard was forced to retire five minutes from the start with a thigh injury. Notwithstanding this set-back, Bath pulled off a fine victory by a goal and a try to a goal, in front of a Boxing Day crowd. Chief credit was due to a magnificent forward effort, despite being shorn of Francis, who filled the backs’ vacancy. The forwards provided the scoring, with Oak touching down and converting his own try, and Foss bullocking his way over from wide out. Oak not only hooked well, but was at the forefront of many of the Bath rushes. Foss was a tower of strength in the scrum and in loose play. Philip Fortt at full back had an impressive game. Bowen provided a fast service and Harris showed obvious touches of class. Ken Weiss, from Oldfield, looked a good prospect.
v Bridgend, Home, Won, 3- 0. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R West, G Foster, W E Hancock, C E Gough (Captain), H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K G Foss, Jack Wood, E W Holmes, L W Moore and A Francis. Bath played in white jerseys, and quickly got down to ‘serious business.’ Scrums and touch kicking were the order of the day for some time, so play switched from end to end in somewhat tedious succession. Bath’s persistent forward work, eventually paid dividends, as five minutes from the end, there was a scrum on the Bridgend line. From the resulting melee, Moore was able to crash over.
v Llanelly, Away, Lost 3 – 13. Team:- P Fortt, D S Hampton (Bridgend), R West, G Foster, W E Hancock, C E Gough, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, G Williams (Llanelly), W E Creek, H Davies, A Francis, N W Matthews and E W Holmes. Attendance 4000. Happily the rain had ceased, as supporters crowded into the new covered stand, built by the Supporters’ Club. Hancock scored a magnificent corner try, but it was small compensation for the 2 goals and a penalty, amassed by the Scarlets.
Bath played their third top game in three days, and arrived one player short as Phillips missed the train. Norman Matthews had a fine game, standing up to the Llanelly forwards: “He never shines more than when the task is uphill and his colleagues responded gamely to his promptings. ‘A splendid pack you have’, was the comment to me. That is true; and that is where the great improvement in the Bath side has taken place. It was a good ending to the Old Year, and Bath in the New Year should win more matches than they lose.” (Bath Chronicle)
v Richmond, Home. Won 9-8. Team:- P Fortt, A E Merrett, G Foster*, R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. A narrow win, albeit by three tries to a goal and a try. Bath tries were scored by Gough, Merrett and Hancock. “The struggle was chiefly between the forwards, and there were some stirring loose scrums, which the referee was not at all anxious prematurely to cut short.”
All three Bath XV’s won their matches this weekend.
* Geoffrey Claude Foster, aged 21, was educated at Bath’s King Edward’s School. He was a contemporary of A R Candy, the Old Edwardians’ captain and scrum-half.
v Northampton, Home, Won 11-0. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, L D Wardle, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Mood.
Headlined as a ‘SUBSTANTIAL WIN’ Bath crossed the Northampton line 3 times, converting one – without reply. Tries by Wardle, Les Matthews (converted by Oak), and : “Then, from a line-out about 15 yards away, N Matthews got possession and with a run, a wriggle and a bullock through, obtained a popular score.”
Bath were well pleased with themselves – it was their fourth successive home win.
v Leicester, Home. Won 14-0. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, K G Foss, K Weiss, N W Matthews, and P Moon. Bath scored a goal and 3 tries without reply from the Tigers.
There had been an early morning covering of snow, but strong sunlight had thawed the pitch to the extent that it soon began to cut up badly. Bath got off to a fine start, when Gough secured in the loose and cross-kicked for Foster to take in his stride for the first try. Oak converted from nearly the touchline. Gough again figured in a number of forays in partnership with Davies. Bath gradually took control, largely due to a spirited forward effort.
Gough initiated another move: “Foster carried on and West, taking up the running, covered nearly half the field in a magnificent dribble right across the ground, chased but impossible to be overhauled, and he touched down for one of the most spectacular tries seen on the Rec. this season.”
West profited when Foss just missed in a drop goal attempt; his prompt follow-up gained Bath a third try. Next, Foss scored a blind side try to secure Bath’s best win of the season.
“Gough was a fine pivot, making the openings for two good tries.” Norman Matthews deserved great credit for the manner in which he led the forwards.
Bath v Moseley, and national and local games cancelled, in view of the death of King George V.
v Swansea, Away, Lost 3-10: R W James, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, K G Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews, K Weiss. The average age of the team was 23.
Handling was difficult with a greasy ball on a dull and depressing day. The touchline was strewn with straw to counter the frost, and there were pools of water, and players where often ankle deep in mud. Nevertheless Hancock managed a try after side-stepping two defenders, and diving over in the corner. In fact, Hancock had the ball only once – and he scored!
Bath strove desperately hard to add to their score, but a sound Swansea defence kept them out. Swansea’s scoring portfolio was a drop goal, a penalty and a try. Gerrard and Gough had outstanding games, as they tried to conquer the dreadful conditions. Unfortunately, Swansea’s spoiling tactics prevailed. It was a mudlark!
Bath played in white, with black armlets, in memory of the late King.
v Bedford, Home. Won 8-3. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, G Foster, R West, A E Merrett, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K G Foss, J S Wood, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. Bath won by tries scored by Francis and Moon, with West converting Moon’s effort, to Bedford’s 1 try by Power. “It was one of the hardest fought games of the season, and Bath won it, as they had won most of their home games since the revival, in the second half.”
“Play was a bit over-robust towards the end……” “Rugby was more fierce than scientific.”
v Gloucester, Home, Drawn 3-3: H G Slade, W E Hancock, R Banks, B C Barber, E J Eastcott, F Rhymes, E L Stinchcombe, I F M Spence (Capt.), N W Matthews, M V Shaw, J Dingley, P R Skinner, S A Weeks, H West, A Milsom.
The pitch was so dry, the Fire Brigade were called in to soften-up the surface. Five minutes from no-side, Hancock’s try came from a cross-kick by Eastcott, Matthews picking up, to send out a long pass to the speedy winger.
Harry Slade for Bath, and H Boughton for Gloucester, had outstanding games at full-back.
Gloucester were considered to be lucky to hold Bath to a draw, particularly as Bath scored the try and Gloucester could only match it with a penalty.
“On the balance of play Bath were certainly superior; and rousing forward play was the chief secret of that.”
“The pack won the stubborn and gruelling battle both in the tight, where Oak hooked with no end of skill, and in the loose, whether in foot-slogs or following up.” Weiss was conspicuous in the forays.
Bath made a fruitless journey to Moseley, where the game was cancelled due to heavy snow.
v Bristol, Home, Drawn 3-3 (A try each) Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R West, G Foster, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, Rev. J Downard, K J Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. Gerrard was out with a thigh injury. Attendance 4000.
It was the 100th ‘derby’ between the two clubs, but: “murky skies robbed the afternoon of the geniality which yesterday promised.” Bristol scored after just 8 minutes, when Haskins glided through unimpeded. There were many thrilling moments as the game moved into the second half: “Things were getting rousing, with Bath right on top of their mettle, and putting forth every endeavour to get on top. A spirited dash by Hancock left a couple of opponents pawing in the air, but his cut-in was foiled. Bath applied hammer blow after hammer blow and still Morris was one of the great stand-by of his side, though a few minutes before a leg injury had called for the attentions of the trainer.
Hancock, leaping an opponent like he did in the celebrated match at the Memorial Ground, sought to streak ahead again, but he was tackled from behind before he could gain his balance. The pace was pie-hot, with Bath piling on the pressure.
A free kick by Foss, and again dropping short, gave the players a breather. But Bath were directly afterwards battering against the Bristolians’ line. Bristol will not have a harder afternoon of intensive defensive work for a long while to come, and the most they could do was to use the sanctuary of the touch-line, even, as at this point, by means of Soccer kicking.” Writing of Bath: “Territorially they won handsomely, for in actuality they did nine-tenths of the pressing.”
At last, Bath levelled the match, when Buse ran from fullback, to take the ball from a lineout. Before Bristol could awaken to the danger, he was away at speed, and with a rapid transfer, amid great excitement, sent off Leslie Matthews to dive over in the corner.
Bath went all out for a victory. The partisan cry was: “Come on the forwards!”
“Of the forwards, it is impossible to speak too highly. In rush and in the loose, in ding-dong dashes, they were magnificent.”
They were still going ‘great guns’ when the final whistle went.
START – STOP REHEARSALS
“Movietone” film crew were in attendance, and some of the play would be shown in the Odeon Cinema the following week: “Bath were first out, led by Norman Matthews, who was wearing a heavy bandage on one knee, but the team only appeared for the purpose of being filmed, and they returned to the dressing room while Bristol looking immaculate in white, also posed to be ‘shot
All these preliminaries were not even then concluded, because the referee and captains were then brought out for filming while the toss took place. There was a touch of comedy. Apparently they did not shake hands and toss in the proper Hollywood manner, and to the amusement of the crowd, they had to ‘do that there’ again.”
v Neath, Away. Lost 0-6. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R West, R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, Rev. J Downard, K J Foss, J S Wood, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. In a game spoilt by wind and rain, in front of a disappointingly small crowd, Bath lost by 2 tries to nil. The teams turned around for an immediate re-start after forty rain-drenched minutes. This was appreciated by the twenty-one spectators and one small boy, shivering on the open side of the field. Bath never looked like scoring, and their lack of finish was cruelly exposed. There was too much, aimless punting ahead by the backs, and the forwards were reluctant to handle a ball, which became as greasy as a lardy cake. Norman Matthews was heroic in defence, ably assisted by Foss, Moon, Francis and ‘the Reverend.’
v Blackheath, Away. Lost 5-8. (A goal to a gaol and a try) Team:- P Fortt, G Foster, T R Harris, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, Rev. John Downard, P Moon, K Weiss and A P Francis. Peter Brown had his 1st XV debut. Blackheath’s Macdonald scored a try after ten minutes, but Bath soon countered when scrum-half Davies went blind-side from a five yards’ scrum. Foss kicked a beautiful conversion. Play was fast and open and eventually Blackheath penetrated the previously stout defence, for a converted try.
“The fortunes of the game were varied enough for the issue to be well in doubt. Bath put up a capital show seeing that it was probably the youngest side that has represented the club in a first-class match.”
v Leicester, Away, Lost, 0-5. Team:- P Fortt, D Whiting, G Foster, L D Wardle, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowen, P Brown, H Oak, L Phillips, K J Foss, Rev. J Downard, P Moon, N W Matthews and A P Francis. There was an amazingly small crowd, in a stadium built for internationals – no more than the level of attendance for a home United game. It was an evenly matched contest with no score until the 65th minute. The forwards remained full of life and enthusiasm.
Chronicle comment: ”The United halves, Bowen and Harris, gave a very good account of themselves. There was however, too much of a tendency on the part of both , and especially Harris, to break away on their own. Leicester soon began to watch for it. Harris is, nevertheless, a capital player in the making. He has some great assets especially quickness of brain and quickness off the mark. He is a coming player of note.”
There was a tale that when Bath once lost to Leicester by 33 points, somebody gave Eddie Simpkins a dog. The dog was named “Tiger 33” as per the inscription on it’s collar!
v Old Millhillians, Home. Won 24-6. (3 goals and 3 tries to a penalty and a try) Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, C R West, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, P Brown, A Ash, Rev. J Downard, D Lock, K J Foss, P Moon, N W Matthews and A P Francis.
“At 3-30 there was no sign of the teams and the band took another supply of music sheets to while away the tedious minutes. A few spectators in the stand grew restless and clapped impatiently.”
Eventually the game got under way, and the old boys were eventually overwhelmed by Bath’s scoring spree. Tries flowed from Downard (“A very good forward is the Walcot curate”), converted by Gerrard, Moon, again converted by Gerrard, Leslie Matthews, Gough, and Matthews again, and finally Francis, converted by Foss.
Les Matthew’s tries were fine efforts. His speciality was in the last few yards’ dash, which he executed with head down and knees up. He was a difficult one to stop!
v London Scottish, Away. Lost 0-16. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R A Gerrard, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, A P Francis, D Lock and P Moon.
After a half time lead with a penalty goal to nil, London Scottish overwhelmed Bath with a final tally of a drop gaol, a penalty, 2 tries and a drop-goal from a mark. “The London side had the major say in matters and Bath could do nothing right.” Lind, the Exciles’ standoff half was a big thorn in Bath’s side, and his clever and elusive running, effectively won the game for the Scotsmen. The Bath backs were either reduced to a spectator’s role, or were required to tackle like demons, to keep their opponents in check. No one succeeded better than Gerrard in this respect.
v Neath, Home. Won 11-6. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R A Gerrard, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A P Francis. Neath had previously beaten Swansea, Bristol and Llanelly, and in this context – it was a particularly good win. Excitement was intense in the closing stages, but magnificent tackling, spearheaded by Gerrard, prevailed. Bath forwards put in a superlative performance, Gerrard kicked tactically, and the defence was sound through to the end. Uncharacteristically, it was Neath’s handling under pressure which let them down. Bath tries came from forward raids, the first of which in under ten minutes play. Tries scorers were Wood and Bowen, with Gerrard converting one and adding a second half penalty.
v Old Cranleighans, Home. Won 18-8. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R A Gerrard, C R West, L D Wardle, C E Gough, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, L W Moore, A P Francis. Leslie Moore, shortly to retire, was included in the side in order to rest Norman Matthews for the O.M.T.’s game. Bath had a comfortable win by a goal, 3 tries and a drop goal to a goal and a try. Leslie Matthews scored a cracking early try, having snatched up an interception and with the defence hopelessly spread-eagled, he dived over wide out. Next Gerrard dribbled away with Moon in support, to score under the post and convert his own try. Further tries followed from Wardle and Francis. West seized on a bouncing ball, and landed a magnificent drop goal. It raised the biggest applause of the afternoon. Bowen provided an accurate service and made a number of penetrative breaks.
v Old Merchant Taylors, Home, Won 11-0. Team:- P Fortt, L G Matthews, R A Gerrard, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowden, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A P Francis.
Another reduced attendance because of bad weather, the pitch being reduced to a morass within minutes of the start. It was some consolation that Bath ran out unbeaten at home for the 12th successive game. Although exciting throughout, the faithful supporters had to wait until ten minutes into the second half before witnessing any scoring. “What I think turned the scale was the grand rushes by Norman Matthews’s brigade. In the second half not merely forwards came into them, but Gerrard himself showed what a terror to the opposition he can be with the ball at his feet. That is how he scored his try, the second of the afternoon, the others falling to Moon, back in scoring form, and Hancock, who took his chance from West’s pass in big-hearted fashion.” Foss excelled in a fine forward display.
Gerrard converted his own try.
v Torquay Athletic, Away. Lost 6-21. Team:- P Fortt, T R Harris, R A Gerrard, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, D Lock and K Weiss. Harris played at wing, in the absence of Les Matthews through injury. Despite the loss of their final game, the players enjoyed their seaside trip, and went for a row in Tor Bay. One of the boats broke an oar, so Gerrard performed a true skipper’s task, and towed the second boat back to shore.
As a harbinger of Spring, the daisies were very much in evidence as the players took to the field of play. Bath scored once in each half: “West had a big hand in it, dribbling determinedly through the opposition defence for Gough to come up and catch the ball on the bounce.” Bowen missed the conversion from right in front of the posts.
“The movement began mid-field, Gough being the inspirer. Harris and West handled at speed, and with guile, and West sent in Moon at the corner. The latter took the chance capitally. Foss kicked well for goal but was unsuccessful.” Torquay crossed the Bath line no less than 5 times, converting 3 of them.
Of the individuals, only Harris and Moon could be said to have enhanced their reputations. Gerrard was carrying an injury for most of the game.
It was a generally poor performance and typical of previous Away performances – Not a win!
Bath’s Away record was Played 15, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 14. Points For 47. Points Against 173.
TRY SCORERS:- W E Hancock and L G Matthews 10, A P Francis 6, P Moon 5, R A Gerrard and C E Gough 4, N W Matthews, H Davies, and L Wardle 3, A E Merrett, L Phillips, C R West, and K J Foss 2, H Oak, L W Moore, G Foster, J S Wood, and J M Bowen one each.
30 Conversions:- H T F Buse 7, R A Gerrard 6, H Oak 4, K J Foss 2, and C R West 1.
One Drop-gaol by C R West.
Penalties:- Three only, kicked by Gerrard, Buse and Oak.
Full-back:- P Fortt 15, H T F Buse 11, R W Jones 8.
Three-quarters:- L Matthews 25, W E Hancock 24, R A Gerrard 19, R West 18, G Foster 17, L D Wardle 11, R W Jones, A E Merrett 6, J S Bartlett, D Whiting, T R Harris 2, L Wiggins, J R Windridge, P Fortt, and D S Hampton (Bridgend) once each.
Halves (stand-off):- C E Gough 25, L Wardle 5, T R Harris 3, K O Turner once.
Halves (scrum):- H Davies 25, J M Bowen 8, K Parfitt 1.
Forwards:- H Oak, K J Foss 32, A P Francis 31, P Moon 27, A Ash 25, J S Wood 24, N W Matthews and L Phillips 21, P Brown and L W Moore 8, D Wilson and Rev. J Downard 7, K Weiss, A Weeks and E W Holmes 5, D Lock, and D Campbell 3, L Wiggins and H Davies 2, B C Barber, T Wilkins, W Creek and G Williams (Llanelly) once each.