v 5th Battalion Home Guard. Home. Won 24-0. Team:- J Hodder, C Porter, J de Wolf, A Beasley, R Giles, Dr. Leahy (ex Prior Park College), M. Rees, J Wass (Captain), C Woodward, L Harding, Rogers, Dr Milne, W R Stewart, Davies, and K Weiss.
Norman Matthews continued to organise the Home Guard team, but was giving up playing.
It was a somewhat inauspicious restart to Rugby on the Rec. There were no stands, no changing rooms, but the players soon adjusted to the circumstances, changing at the Royal Baths and walking, as in the old days, down through town to the pitch.
Cyril Porter had joined the R.A.F. and put on 2 stone in weight. He had an early run, lost the ball, regained it and punted ahead – just right for him to trundle on and touch down. He missed with the kick.
The Home Guard retaliated with a couple of sturdy and exciting bursts. Porter again came into the picture with another kick and chase. He had judged correctly and added a second try. This time he added the extras with a finely directed kick. Bath went on to consolidate their hold on the game, and ended with a comfortable win.
Most importantly – they’d started again.
v R.A.F. Compton Bassett. Home. Won 27-3. Team:- J Pym, C Porter, J De Wolf, A Beasley, R Giles, P Leahy, I Perry (Combe Down), J Wass, C Woodward, J Milne, V Rogers, L Harding, K Weiss, Martin, W Barrow. Takings in aid of the Prisoner of War Fund. This match was supported by an encouragingly large crowd and they were rewarded as Bath ran in 9 tries to the R.A.F. side’s single penalty success. Martin was a new forward from Sale. Wartime restrictions posed a problem for this young man. He weighed 14st 10lb and stood 6ft. 6in.in his stocking feet. That’s where the problem was. How to fit him up with boots size 12! Bath pressed from the early stages. Leahy started a movement, passing on to Beasley. When challenged, he managed to swing a long pass out to Porter who dived over wide out. Soon, Pym had a run and he found Porter – who “did the needful a second time.” Again he missed the conversion kick. At this stage, the R.A.F. came back with a penalty, but it remained a one sided affair, when the next unconverted try fell to Milne. Porter was again in the action and scored by following up his own cross-kick. Again he failed with the conversion attempt.
Perry, of Combe Down worked extraordinarily well in partnership with Leahy.
Bath scored nine tries in all, but consistent with Porter’s current kicking form – he missed the lot!
The final try count was Porter (3), de Wolf, Milne, Barrow, Wass, Rogers and Harding.
One is forced to reflect as to whether Martin could have used his size 12 boots with more success than Porter!
v Army XV game cancelled
v R.A.F XV. Home. Won 3-0. Team:- R Giles, F Hayman, J de Wolf, J Pym, L Harding, I Perry, P Leahy, J Wass, C Woodward, J Milne, W Barrow, J Martin, W R Stewart, V Rogers, and H Davies.
Winger Fred Hayman came into prominence at this game. The R.A.F. side had started confidently.
“The balance of things continued with little in it, but as the half progressed Hayman turned the scales in Bath’s favour. Three times he picked up the ball from the bounce with that cleverness which stamps a real footballer, but each time his way to the line was barred by unflinching tackling, supported by perfect position play.
Each time he tried to do the trick on his own because passes were going wrong in the middle and thrust was certainly missing.” The impetuous which Hayman injected into the game, was finally rewarded when Milne scored the match winning try five minutes from no-side.
Out of Gear
“For all that, the Bath backs seemed out of gear. Their passing was elementary and faulty. Nor did the forwards find their form. The heeling was lethargic and desultory.”
v R.A.F XV. Home. Lost 0 – 6. Team:-J Hodder, A Beasley, J de Wolf, E K Mills, P Leahy, I Perry, J Rees, Wass, C Woodward, R James, Lieut.W R Stewart, J Milne, H Davies, Lieut. W Huggett RN, and W Barrow.
Bath were hard pressed against an R.A.F. side which contained internationals:- Danny Evans (Wales), Daly (Ireland), Blackadder (Scotland) and Price (Wales). They crossed Bath’s line twice – the first tries conceded this season. Leahy was magnificent in defence and his touch kicking saved Bath on several occasions.
v Army XV. Home. Lost 0-15. Team:- J Hodder, Rees, Horne, Arnold, Martin-Jones, Dr. P Leahy, D Evans, V Rogers, Jarvis, Harding, Woodward, Weiss, W Barrow, Davies and Stewart. Attendance 500.
This was another very strong Services side, containing many top class players, including a number from the Northern League. Their superior play enabled them to cross the Bath line five times. They were by far and away the best Services team so far encountered. There was no one in the team under 6 foot. They did not so much heel the ball, so much as push Bath off it: “As soon as that happened the hunt was, of course, on, and Bath had perforce to do more chasing than for many a long day.” Bath also had the bad luck of having Harry Davies off injured for most of the game. Both Danny Evans and Hodder were valiant in defence.
v R.A.F. XV. Home. Lost 0-8. Team:- V Rees, E K Mills, G Burt, A Beasley, I Perry, Major J de Wolf, H Horne,, L Harding, R James, V Rogers, J Wass, C Woodward, R Hammond, Barrow and K Weiss.
Although they played more convincingly than in the two previous outings, Bath went down to a goal and a penalty goal to a side which included Price, Weston-Super-Mare’s Welsh international forward. de Wolf, now promoted to Major, featured in some excellent play, but generally, Bath’s moves were snuffed out by Services’ close marking.
“…..Bath showed too much half-heartedness and they were held in the centre despite the success of major de Wolf at stand off half. The backs had enough prompting – and chances – to have won the game.”
Former Weymouth House and St. Stephen’s schoolboy, Croft, scored five of the R.A.F.’s eight points.
v R.A.F. Melksham, Won 6-0. Team:- J Hodder, C Porter, H Leek, P Leahy, A Beasley, J de Wolf, R R Morris (Wales and Bristol) , Rogers, R James, Milne, J Wass, C H Woodward, Kindersley, W Barrow, and R Hammond.
On a wet day, the ball was difficult to handle, but the forwards and some talented backs, made the best of their possession. A sorry looking band of spectators huddled under a tarpaulin which had been rigged up to provide a modicum of cover on the flower pot stand. Bath pressure produced wingers’ tries for Porter (home on leave, and Beasley. Hayden Leek, King Edward’s School, played at centre. Proceeds of the match went to the Prisoners of War Fund. It was good to win again, after three lean weeks. “The pack played 50 per cent. better, and the midfield triangle was a real success, despite all the handicaps.”
v R.A.F., Won 25-0. Selected Team:- J Hodder, C Porter, J de Wolf, P Leahy, F Hayman, R R Morris (Wales), D D Evans (Wales), C Kindersley (Cambridge), R James, H D W Powell (Cambridge ex Monkton Combe), J Wass, C Woodward, R Hammond, W Huggett and W Barrow.
“There was no mistaking Bath’s return to form on Boxing Day. Fifteen hundred people saw them canter in the first half and gallop in the second, with the result that they crossed the R.A.F. line seven times to win by 2g. 5t. (25pts.) to nil. Nor was it just an R.A.F. side. It represented one of the strongest stations in the West and included a umber of Northern Union players.
Their speed in defence was surprising. It kept Bath down to one try in the first half – Porter’s – but in the second, with the Bath pack getting the ball and passing better than most, the scoring was frequent.”
Of the scorers, Hammond, Woodward and Kindersley represented the forwards, and Porter, Hayman and de Wolf the backs. Porter and Evans converted a couple. There were some new faces in the forwards, good faces too – Kindersley, Hammond and Powell – all members of Donald Scott-Reid’s Public School XV of a year or two ago. Porter and Evans converted one each.
This proved to be one of Bath’s best wartime sides, and no one contributed more than Corporal Fred Hayman. By the way – he was on leave for his honeymoon!
Match cancelled as Army unable to raise a full side.
v Monks Park, Bristol. This was a new club opened during the War. Home. Won 38-10. Team:- J Hodder, A Beasley, J de Wolf, P Leahy, Hornett, R R Morris, Lt. Raper, R James, L Harding, V Rogers, J Wass, C Woodward, W Barrow, R Hammond, A Higgins (ex Rosslyn Park).
With Harry Davies , the Honorary Secretary still hobbling about with a broken leg, Bath suffered another casualty. Towards the end of this match John Wass, the captain, broke his right forearm. Pat Leahy was also injured.
Bath tries by Rees, Leahy (2), Higgins, de Wolf, Harding, Hodder and Beasley. de Wolf converted 4 and dropped a goal. Fred Russell, the 63 year old, ex Bath player, acted as Referee.
v Army XV. Home. Won 6-0. Team:- J Hodder, A Beasley, J de Wolf (Captain), E Horne, F Messer (Avonvale), M Robinson (Warrington Rugby League), Lt. Raper, V James, V Rogers, A Higgins, C Woodward, W Barrow, L Boxall,, W R Stewart, and R Hammond.
The Army side were big, strong and fast, and there was just 3 points separating the sides at half time. Rugby League player, Robinson had repeatedly figured in attacks and was rewarded when the excellent forward, Higgins, supplied the scoring pass. Stewart scored in the second half.
v R.A.F. XV. Home. Won 13-10. Team:- T E R Adlam (Old Sulians and Monks Park), Sergt. Tom Hicks, Major John De Wolf (Capt.), Dr. Pat Leahy, C Porter, M Robinson, Lt. Raper R.N., V Rogers, R James, H Muller, C Woodward, W Barrow, W R Stewart, R G Hammond, V Boxall. There was little to chose between the two sides. However, it was not long before the airmen wrong footed the Bath defence and Jolin scored wide out. Later, the enterprising Robinson employed his left foot, for a fine drop goal for Bath. Porter and Hicks claimed the tries and de Wolf landed a penalty. It was an entertaining and exciting game which retained the interest right to the end.
v Royal Corps. of Signals. Home. Won 36-6. Team:- J Hodder, A Beasley, P/O D Evans, A Walters, P Leahy, M Robinson, Lieut. Raper, R James, V Rogers, A Higgins, C Woodward (Capt.), W Barrow, R Hammond, H Muller, C Duncan.
Bath tries by Leahy (2), Higgins (2), Hammond (2), Barrow, Evans and Beasley. Evans converted three, and Robinson landed a penalty goal. Pat Leahy, playing at centre, put up his best performance since he joined the Bath Club. Danny Evans enjoyed himself enormously. Higgins and Muller stood out in a great pack.
v New Zealand XV. Home. Won 6-3. Team:- J Hodder, R Hudson, J Price (Monks Park), Dr. P Leahy, F Church, M Robinson, Lt Raper, R James, V Rogers, A Higgins, C Woodward, W Barrow, R Hewitt, C Duncan, and J Weiss. Newcomers Price and Hudson shared the tries.
This was stirring rugby in front of the biggest crowd of the season.
The New Zealanders included ‘All Black,’ Sapper D A Sutherland. The visiting pack were magnificent and took a great deal of stopping.
Prior to the start, the crowd stood with bowed heads, for a minute’s silence, observed to the memory of the late Major R A Gerrard. As Referee Swaffield blew a concluding whistle, a Liberator bomber swept across the sky.
v R.A.F. XV. Home. Won 40-0. Team:-J Hodder, P/O A Beasley, P Leahy, M Robinson, L Church, D D Evans, Lt Raper, L James, V Rogers, A Higgins, C Woodward, W Barrow, W Huggett, R Hammond. K Weiss.
Spectators could be sure, that when Danny Evans was available, they were in for a lively game. He did not disappoint, as he opened with a fine drop goal from a difficult angle. Five hundred of the faithful roared their approval! Here we find our earliest reference to ‘man of the match,’ as Danny undoubtedly deserved that accolade, as he slotted over second neatly taken drop goal. “Evans was always a box of tricks, and the element of surprise which he generally introduces into his football sometimes has even his own side guessing.”
Robinson damaged his shoulder and was forced to retire.
v R.A.F.XV. Home. Lost 3-12. Team:- J Hodder, A Beasley, P Leahy, A Higgins, R Adlam, ‘Curly’ Halse, Lt Raper, Milne, V Rogers, J Taylor, C Woodward, W Barrow, Lt Stewart, R Hammond, K Weiss.
Danny Evans changed allegiance for this game and was in half-back partnership with fellow international Daly.
They were supported by a first rate pack and Bath found it tough going from the start. Bath’s pre-war scrum half, Norman ‘Curly’ Halse was home on leave, adding spice to the confrontation. It was a somewhat sensational opening. Bath just missed out in the first minute – Daly for the R.A.F. scored their try – and Milne for Bath immediately levelled, and all this within five minutes of the kick off!
The play continued at a fast pace with varying fortunes, but the second half saw the visitors pull ahead
v Ack Ack XV. Home. Won 8-0. Team:- J Arnold, K Weiss, Bombardier Skillen *, K Wright (Swansea), A Beasley, P Leahy, Lt Raper, V James, V Rogers, A Higgins, C Woodward, W Barrow, W R Stewart, R Hammond, Lt Milne. * Skillen- a Northern League player from Rochdale Hornets.
Jack Arnold was at full-back. He was on leave from an undisclosed north of England R.A.F. station where he was somewhat euphemistically described as ‘a mender of engines.’
“Skillen was often in the picture, starting the openings and being in several bright bouts of passing, as well as going very close with a magnificent penalty kick.”
Bath’s first try came when Higgins tackled the opposing scrum-half, Stewart seized the ball and dived over near the posts. Nevertheless, Barrow failed with the kick at goal.
v Stotherts. Home. Won 12-0. Team:- Bombardier Southwood, Beasley, Wright, M Robinson, Leahy, Bombardier Skillen, Lt Raper, Surg.Lieut. Milne, James, Rogers, Woodward, Barrow, Higgins, Lieut. Stewart, Weiss. It was the ‘Cranes’ first visit for several years, but they were overcome by a penalty and 3 tries to nil. There were few good passing movements as Stotherts sought to disrupt at the base of the scrum. Raper and Beaverstock had a rare tussle, and this preoccupation influenced the play of both sets of backs. Eventually, Robinson scored two fine tries, the second was a beauty, after he had run three-quarters of the length of the field. Skillen scored the other try and kicked a penalty goal.
It is worthy of note, that all Bath’s points were scored by the two Rugby League players.
v New Zealand XV. Home. Won 6-3. Team:- J Hodder, R L Gover, Lieut. Ellis, P Leahy, Lieut. Knight, M Robinson, Lt. Raper, W Barrow, Lt. Coffer, Lt W R Stewart, K Weiss, F Kindersley, V James, A Higgins and C H Woodward. This was an Army Welfare match.
The New Zealanders lived up to their reputation for fast and stirring rugby, but it was Bath who dictated play in the early stages. Stand-off M Robinson, was repeatedly probing for openings in midfield. The NZ’s heavy forwards then forced play close to the Bath try line and Hodder was forced to touch down. Despite favourable conditions, most of the play was confined to a mammoth up-front struggle. Fittingly, Robinson secured the opening try with a dazzling break through the centre. Raper sustained an injury, so the indomitable Austin Higgins was a make-shift fly-half to Robinson. Indeed, he took his ‘elevation’ to the half-back division seriously, and ‘slipped over’ for a try following a five yards scrum. Porthouse scored for the visitors.
v R.A.F. XV . Home. Won 50-10. Team:- J Hodder, F.O.Barge, P Leahy, M Robinson, Corpl. F Hayman, Major Maurice Daly (Ireland), D D Evans (Wales), V Rogers, W James, A Higgins, C Woodward, W Barrow, Lt Stewart, S/Ldr. Hubert Johnson (R.A.F. Colerne – destined to be Chairman and President of Cardiff R.F.C.), K Weiss and R Brocken.
Between 2000 and 3000 people stayed to watch the match. Many had taken part in a civic procession commemorating WINGS FOR VICTORY WEEK. The special match programme was on sale for 3d.
The blanket collection raised £10.3.1d. It was appropriate that the Bath team contained a high proportion of R.A.F. men. Indeed, it was Flt..Lt Danny Evans who opened the scoring after Leahy had dummied through the defence. In partnership with Evans, Irish international Daly had a fine game at outside half and there was some sparkling back play against a side who had defeated them earlier in that season. “Daly, first, made an opening for a try by Hayman. Then he helped himself to one, and next put Hayman through again – three beautiful tries, all of which the brilliant kicking of Evans converted. Evans near half-time dropped a goal, but the ball landed on the bar and came back into play.”
Cpl. Fred Hayman (Canadian Army) had a personal tally of 5 tries and converted 2, for his 19 points. Bath scored 7 goals and 5 tries to 2 goals. Daly, Leahy and Weiss each scored two tries and the remaining try was credited to Robinson. Evans converted three and Hodder two.
v Welch Regiment, Home. WINGS FOR VICTORY WEEK. (2nd game) Lost 3-16
Team:- J Hodder, P/O A Beasley, P Leahy, M Robinson, F/O Barge, Capt. Mervyn Bowen, Flt. Lt. D D Evans, V James, V Rogers, C Woodward, W Barrow, K Weiss, Lt. W R Stewart, F/O Hugh Johnson and A Higgins.
The Welch Regiment boasted a fine pack of forwards and remained unbeaten, gathering tries by Major Davies, Pte. Davies, Sgt. Bowen (Carmarthen Quins) and Pte. Slattery (Swansea) Bowen also kicked two goals.
Dr. Pat Leahy scored Bath’s try in spectacular fashion, by diving in at the corner after good work by Danny Evans.
v R.A.F Hullavington. Home. Won 18-6. J Hodder, A Beasley, F/O Gillieson, P Leahy, F/O Barge, ‘Sam’ Beaverstock, Sgt. Owen (Preston Grasshoppers), V Rogers, V James, R Brochen, C Woodward, W Barrow, P/O Muir, A Higgins and K Weiss. There was a ‘smashing’ try by Robinson after Beaverstock had run half the length of the field: “Robinson was, in fact, very much in evidence, getting three of the tries and converting one.
Leahy collected the other try, and Skillen kicked two goals.”
v R.A.F. Salisbury. Home. Won 14-5. Team:- J Hodder, A Beasley, M Robinson, P Leahy, P/O Barge, Lt Raper, P T Skillon, V Rogers, L James, Lt W R Stewart, C Woodward, W Barrow, A Higgins, Hammond, K Weiss. “What turned the scale was the quick-wittedness of Robinson at fly-half, the sound kicking of Skillen and the opportunism of Higgins.”
“Bath took 11 of the points in the first half without reply – from Beasley, a try, Skillen a conversion, Skillen a free kick from the half-way line – how these Northern League players can kick! – and Higgins a try. Bullock replied with a try for the R.A.F., which Hall, full back, converted. That left Weiss to get in at the corner for a try, to complete the scoring.”
It was a thoroughly satisfactory game for players and spectators alike.
v South Wales Borderers. Home. Won 16-13. In aid of the GERRARD MEMORIAL FUND and arranged in conjunction with former Bath scrum half, Captain Mervyn Bowen.
Team:- J Hodder, Cpl. Hayman, M Robinson, Bombdr. Skillen, Sergt. Owen, Major M Daly, Flt. Lt. D D Evans, Pte. Harding, P/O Orbell, R Hammond, C H Woodward, Lt. Stewart, W Barrow, K Weiss, P/O Beasley.
Described as: “One of the best games, the best finishes, and the best gates in wartime Rugger…”
Bath just made it, by 2 goals and 2 tries to 2 goals and 1 try. Bath tries by Leahy, Beasley, Daly and Weiss. Danny Evans kicked 2 goals.
An enjoyable game that made the onlooker wish the season could be extended. This was in direct contrast with the oncoming Saturday’s performance!
R A Gerrard Memorial Fund Match.
v Bridgend: Home. Lost 3 -24. Team:- Hodder, Hayman, M Robinson, Skillen, Leahy, Daly, Evans, Harding, Orbell, Hammond, Woodward, Stewart, Weiss, Beasley, Barrow.
This was a poor, end of season performance in which Bridgend scored 3 goals and 3 tries to Bath’s first half penalty goal. Bath simply went to pieces, and starved of ball, neither Evans nor Daly could impress. Evans kicked Bath’s penalty. Leahy was hurt early on, and saw out the game amongst the forwards.
On balance – players, officials and supporters were glad when this particular game was over!
Nevertheless, there had been some glorious rugby on the Rec., providing recreation for the remaining regulars and Service players, and a welcome distraction from wartime stresses and austerity for the spectators.