12th AUGUST 2006 BATH V NEWBURY
Bath Rugby’s first run-out since the summer break was a hugely encouraging performance. The 72-0 scoreline speaks for itself – twelve tries racked up, and Newbury Blues prevented from troubling the scorers.
But there were other positive signs amid the tries, from more familiar names – Michael Lipman made some powerful tackles – as well as younger players: for example Mike Mangeolles belied his stature to stop their number eight after he broke upfield, limiting the damage of a lost lineout. Generally strong running, deft handling and successful interplay between forwards and backs all left the hosts struggling, but the coaches will also have seen plenty of areas to work on in the coming days and weeks.
The tone for a massive victory was set within the first 35 seconds of the match, when Rob Hawkins scored the first try after a break down the left-hand side of the pitch by Gareth Delve. David Bory followed suit, taking an inside ball from Andy Williams and scything through the defence untouched.
The next score was a catch-and-drive, Delve coming up with the ball, and his back-row colleague Lipman matched him with five minutes of the half to go, selling a dummy that wrong-footed the defence so that Mangeolles, in support on his right wing, was not needed.
As play became increasingly broken, Olly Barkley broke into the Blues’ 22, and with the fullback covering looked for support. Andy Williams was on hand, and he in turn shipped the ball on to Matt Perry, who scored under the posts.
The first half closed with Bath a comfortable 29-0 up, but although Newbury had been starved of decent possession, breaks by number eight Tom Brown, as mentioned, speedy winger Liam Gibson, and stand-off Tim Walsh also gave the Bath defence something to think about. And with rotating substitutes, to use all the 28-man squad, they had to keep on their toes.
The second half began much as the first, with a try for Michael Stephenson in the first minute after Lipman pinched Newbury’s lineout ball. Newbury then made their most dangerous move, thanks to David Rees, formerly of Sale, Bristol and England, who chipped over Perry for the line. But Nick Walshe got down on the ball and although Newbury retained possession, the move subsequently broke down with a knock-on.
A try for Peter Short was the result of quick thinking: a quick lineout was taken on by Perry, and Mangeolles, Mike Myerscough and Dave Ward all played their part before Mangeolles skidded to the line. He was just held up, but Short was there to finish off.
Ward featured again in the next score by Higgins, and Delve too showed a superb turn of pace down the right-hand touchline, having received the ball from Stephenson when Newbury kicked the ball away.
With the half-century achieved, three more tries were still to come. Berne had been showing some deft ball skills and footwork, and was on hand to sweep up a grubber by Chris Malone towards the line and score under the posts. Higgins scored a second, out-pacing a weary defence; and finally, Williams scorched over thanks to Stephenson, who deceived the defence with a dummy and then drew his man to leave Williams clear.
Myerscough had to leave the field with a knee injury just before the final whistle, but Acting Head Coach Steve Meehan was pleased with the performance, and he and Mark Bakewell, the Forwards Coach, can add the evidence of the day to their assessment of training so far: “Some of our skills work was paying off, and some of the little plays that may not have been obvious to people but were to us. Perhaps in the Premiership we wouldn’t have gone as far as we did today. We’ve come with an open mind and those guys will be judged on their performances in trials and the work they’ve done pre-season.”
Tries: Hawkins (1 min), Bory (9), Delve 2 (18, 64), Lipman (35), Perry (39), Stephenson (41), Short (54), Higgins 2 (56, 75), Berne (68), Williams (80). Cons: Barkley 3, Malone 2, Berne 1.
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 0-12, 0-17, 0-22, 0-29 (half-time); 0-36, 0-41, 0-48, 0-53, 0-58, 0-65, 0-72.
BATH: 15. Michael Stephenson; 14. Mike Mangeolles, 13. Alex Crockett, 21. Olly Barkley, 11. David Bory; 10. Chris Malone, 9. Andy Williams; 1. David Flatman, 2. Rob Hawkins, 3. Christian Loader, 4. Steve Borthwick, 5. Peter Short, 6. Chris Goodman, 7. Michael Lipman, 8. Gareth Delve.
Replacements: 16. Aaron Jarvis, 17. David Barnes, 18. Dave Ward, 19. Rob Fidler, 20 Nick Walshe, 22 Andy Higgins, 23. Shaun Berne, 24. Matt Perry, 25. Danny Grewcock, 26. Laurence Ovens, 27. Duncan Bell, 28. Zak Feaunati, 29. Mike Myerscough.
NEWBURY: 15. Nick Defty; 14. Liam Gibson, 13. David Rees, 12. Mark Ireland, 11. Kenny Bingham; 10. Tim Walsh, 9. Mark Simpson-Daniel; 1. Simon Carter, 2.Glenn Cooper, 3. Jon Dawson, 4. Gregor Haytor (capt), 5. Tom Radbourne, 6. Luke Walters, 7. Chris Morgan, 8. Tom Brown.
Replacements: 16. Mal Roberts, 17. Matt Styles, 18. Vic Frampton, 19. Kenny Dalgleish, 20. Vinnie Feausi, 21. Martin Nutt, 22. Chow Mezger, Rob Faulkner, Raynn Bruce, Ian Ashcroft-Leigh, James Doherty, Andy Tibbatts, Gary Holmes, Guthrie Denniston, Gavin Turner, Eric Brown.
RESULT BATH 72 NEWBURY 0
16th AUGUST 2006 BATH V PARMA
The first winners of the Community Foundation Challenge Cup are Bath Rugby, following Wednesday night’s friendly.
Played in aid of the Bath Rugby Community Foundation, the match was the first pre-season game on the Recreation Ground in many a year, and 2,500 supporters were there to enjoy the spectacle.
It could scarcely have started better for the home side, who found themselves 14-0 up within three minutes. The first try came after probing work by Shaun Berne – who throughout the match was hugely influential at fly-half – when Michael Stephenson picked a line off Chris Goodman to score under the posts. Two minutes later Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu capitalised on a break by Nick Walshe, taking the scoring pass from Zak Feaunati. Berne added both conversions.
The Italians naturally adjusted somewhat after this, but Bath withstood a couple of attacking moves and Fuimaono-Sapolu notched up his second try after a loop move between Berne and Alex Crockett. Steve Borthwick was replaced halfway through the first period as a precautionary measure after suffering a minor nerve twinge in his shoulder, but soon after his second-row colleague Danny Grewcock put the forwards on the score-sheet when he thundered over in the right-hand corner, and Berne again added the extras, this time from a more testing position.
Superb work by the forwards repelled a catch-and-drive move by Parma near the line, and with half-time approaching, Bath were given the advantage of an extra man when Fabio Staibano was shown the yellow card for killing the ball.
Parma gave Bath a huge scare in the second half, when replacement Sego Nadridri intercepted the ball, and charged fifty yards upfield. Hotly pursued by Andy Williams, the threat was temporarily alleviated as the big Italian ran out of steam and the cover caught up with him, but Bath still had some defending to do as the visitors nearly went over in the corner. Parma maintained the pressure as Bath conceded a number of penalties which the visitors kicked to touch, but eventually Chris Malone cleared the ball towards halfway, and Andy Williams relieved the situation with an intercept try.
Two tries in quick succession, for Malone and Bory, took the score one short of fifty, Bath truly rampant after weathering the storm of earlier in the half. With ten minutes to go, the forwards’ dominance was underlined by a catch-and-drive try for Feaunati. Malone’s second try, the result of a well-oiled lineout, was the final touchdown of the match, and left the hosts undisputed victors.
Steve Meehan, Bath’s Acting Head Coach, said improvements had been made from the previous win over Newbury: “I’m pleased that the standard was raised again tonight. For our first match at the Rec, I think they put on a nice display for the Bath faithful.”
1: Try Stephenson, Conversion Berne, 7-0
3: Try Fuimaono- Sapolu, Con Berne, 14-0
19: Try Fuimaono- Sapolu, Con Berne, 21-0
24: Try Grewcock, Con Berne, 28-0
56: Try Williams, Con Malone, 35-0
61: Try Malone, Con Malone, 42-0
64: Try Bory, Con Malone, 49-0
70: Try Feaunati, 54-0
77: Try Malone, Con Malone, 61-0
BATH: 15. M Stephenson 14. A Higgins 13. A Crockett (Mangeolles, 62)12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu (Barkley, 56) 11. D Bory 10. S Berne (Malone, 50) 9. N Walshe (Williams, 41) 1. D Flatman (Barnes, 41) 2. L Mears (Hawkins, 62) 3. D Bell (Loader, 59, Flatman, 74) 4. S Borthwick (captain; rep: Fidler, 19min) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short 7. C Goodman (Scaysbrook, 41) 8. I Feaunati.
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. D Barnes 18. C Loader 19. R Fidler 20. M Mangeolles 21. O Barkley 22. C Malone 23. A Williams 24. J Scaysbrook.
PARMA: 15. G Fontana 14, G Ghidini 13. A Orsi 12. A Chillon 11. A Mazzuccato 10. F Mazzariol 9. J Pellicena (captain) 1. G Fontana 2. B Masetti 3. F Staibano (sin-bin, 39-41 4. F Gumiero 5. F Minello 6. P Sciaretta 7. L Pascu 8. R Barbieri.
Replacements: 16.T Paoletti 17. L Zanini 18. M Barbieri 19. J Soffredini 20. M Frati 21. A Canale 22. S Nadridri.
Referee: Sean Davey
20th AUGUST 2006 BATH V PLYMOUTH
Bath endured the sterner examination that Steve Meehan had demanded in their third warm-up match of the pre-season campaign, eventually emerging victorious over Plymouth Albion by 31-17.
Although they were 14-0 up just after midway through the first half, they allowed Plymouth back into the game with a string of penalties, and throughout the match found themselves tested up front. They could have expected nothing less of a side coached by the veteran Graham Dawe – not playing on this occasion, but not yet retired from the field himself.
Bath did not help themselves by turning over the ball with a frequency that will not have pleased the coaches, and was equally frustrating to the many supporters who had made the trip to Brickfields.
That said, both first-half tries were clinical. The first came after a lineout, the result of a penalty kicked to touch. Jonny Faamatuainu took the ball, and it made its way out through the hands to the left. Nick Abendanon was brought down short, but Short made it over. Gareth Delve then scored after both Matt Banahan and Pieter Dixon showed turns of pace on the right wing, the latter giving the scoring pass.
Thereafter, turnovers cost the visitors territory and possession, and the pace of Tom Arscott, Plymouth’s 18-year-old right wing, also posed a severe threat. This was seen once in the first half when he cut inside Ryan Davis and feinted to chip the cover, but more often after half-time. Early on, he showed his pace down the right wing, just putting a foot in touch, and in the 64th minute the slightest ankle tap by Mike Mangeolles prevented him from scoring under the posts.
Bath still had reason to be pleased, when Travagli charged down Ed Barnes’s attempted clearance and followed up to claim the try. Travagli’s miss-pass to George Hughes after a break by Chris Goodman then sent Davis over the line. Meanwhile, Neethling had kicked a fourth successful penalty in as many attempts, but slick hands in the Bath backs – among them Abendanon and Banahan – sent Mangeolles over, a well-deserved score after the young centre’s hard and conspicuous work all day.
However, the hosts were to have the last word. Bath seemed to be heading for another score, when Neethling intercepted with a 70-metre clear run ahead of. Alas for him, the referee had been playing advantage for a penalty, and his sprint was aborted. But Arscott contined to cause problems, and eventually Martin Rice drove over from a lineout, to notch a try that could hardly be begrudged.
Meehan, Acting Head Coach, spoke highly of the contribution and improvement shown by his side as individuals: “We knew that we had competition for spots and this has confirmed it,” he said.
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. I Davey (rep: Hughes, 35-41) 13. R Davis 12. M Mangeolles 11. M Banahan 10. O Barkley (Cozens, 80+2) 9. P Travagli (Alford, 65) 1. D Barnes (Jarvis, 63) 2. P Dixon (Ward, 41) 3. C Loader (Ovens, 63) 4. R Fidler (Faamatuainu, 70) 5. J Faamatuainu (Smith, 41) 6. P.Short 7. J Scaysbrook (Goodman, 41) 8.G Delve (Scaysbrook, 72).
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. A Jarvis 19. D Smith 20. C Goodman 21.S Alford 22. G Hughes 23. C Brooker 24. L Cozens.
PLYMOUTH ALBION: 15. W Neethling 14. T Arscott 13. K Fisilau (Saumi, 67) 12. A Cruickshanks 11. N Sestaret (Ritchie, 80+2) 10. E Barnes (Delaney, 80+2) 9. E Lewsey (Cane, 80+6) 1. T Mathias (Rice, 41) 2. J Owen (Oxley, 31) 3. S Zimmerman (Mathias, 42) 4. C Stewart 5. B Gulliver (Lewis, 69) 6. B Stroud (Genoud, 77) 7. D Thomas (capt) 8. C Lowrie (Hayes, 54).
Replacements: N Cane, D Delaney, N Saumi, M Rice, R Oxley, M Lewis, T Hayes, D Ritchie, F Genoud.
11: Try Short, Con Barkley, 0-7
24: Try Delve, Con Barkley, 0-14
31: Pen Neethling, 3-14
36: Pen Neethling, 6-14
40+2: Pen Neethling, 9-14
46: Pen Neethling, 12-14
55: Try Travagli, 12-19
60: Try Banahan, 12-24
76: Try Mangeolles Con Barkley, 12-31
80+4: Try Rice, 17-31
Referee: N Higginson
25 TH AUGUST 2006 BATH V NEWPORT
The “friendly” moniker given this match was not entirely appropriate, for it was an edgy encounter, but Bath managed to win 12-3.
Newport took the game to them, and on several occasions the ball and territory were conceded to penalties through a loss of temper.
Lee Mears opened Bath’s account in the fifth minute, running onto a beautiful floated miss-pass by Shaun Berne, after Duncan Bell’s break from a lineout move had broken the Dragons’ defensive line.
Six minutes later, a lineout in the same place nearly yielded a second, but Higgins was held up over the line after Malone and Abendanon had made the inroads.
During the middle portion of the half, Bath were let off the hook a number of times when Newport knocked on, victims of a ball made greasy by the drizzle that had begun just before kick-off. Still, Bath were forced to repel a number of attacking moves, as Aled Thomas and Chris Warlow’s kicks and Nathan Brew’s strong running from centre asked questions of their defence.
After half an hour, Ceri Sweeney opened the scoring for the home team with a penalty, given for holding on, that bounced in off the posts.
As half-time approached, Bath looked in trouble when a ball was hacked through to their 22. But a courageous Abendanon coolly gathered it and ran the gauntlet of the pursuing Welsh, starting a move that ended in the Dragons’ 22 with a penalty for Bath. But the chance to add to the scoreboard was spurned in favour of a scrum, and they went into the break without adding to the score.
Bath made seven changes at half time and almost straightaway had all hands to the pump defending their line. The Dragons’ pick-and-drive policy could not breach it, but not long after Gareth Delve found himself in the sin-bin when fraying tempers overflowed.
With the odds against them, Berne snaffled a try, scooping up a loose pass by Warlow intended for Nathan Brew and out-pacing the full-back to score. Olly Barkley added the conversion.
Life got no easier for Bath, when James Scaysbrook was also shown a yellow card after Alex Walker, the scrum-half, took a tapped penalty near the Bath line and was tackled before Scaysbrook had retreated. But again, Bath might have had the next score when Bory hacked the ball upfield. In the end, they made do with a win by 12 points to 3.
Steve Meehan, the Acting Head Coach, still came away happy with what the challenge showed: “It was a good hit-out for us. It was vastly different from everything we have experienced so far so it was interesting to see how the team reacted to different stresses.
“I was pleased with the defensive attitude and thought that they improved again. I think the set-piece was pleasing, the scrum was very strong and was well and truly on top.
He also agreed it was a fractious affair: “There’s no doubt that the players were frustrated and when they are frustrated they react.
“I think we’ve made steady progress with each match in the areas that we needed to but coaches are rarely satisfied – though pleased with the result.”
5: Try Mears, 0-5
32: Penalty Sweeney 3-5
59: Try Berne, Conversion Barkley, 3-12
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (Bory, 41) 14. A Higgins 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu (Davis, 41) 12. S Berne 11. M Stephenson (15) 10. C Malone (Barkley, 41) 9. A Williams (Walshe, 41) 1. D Barnes (Flatman, 41) 2. L Mears (Hawkins, 70) 3. D Bell (Barnes, 74; Bell, 80+4)) 4. S Borthwick (captain; Fidler, 78)) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short (Feaunati, 66) 7. C Goodman (Scaysbrook, 41; sin-bin, 68-78) 8. Z Feaunati (Delve, 41; sin-bin 52-63).
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. D Flatman 18. G Delve 19. R Fidler 20. N Walshe 21. R Davis 22. O Barkley (10) 23. J Scaysbrook 24. D Bory (11).
NEWPORT: 15. A Thomas (Maule, 69) 14. G Wyatt 13. N Brew 12. C Sweeney 11. A Brew 10. C Warlow (captain; Hercus, 64) 9. A Walker (Baber, 75) 1. A Black (Maddocks, 63) 2. B Daly (Wilkes, 38) 3. R Thomas (Harrison, 63) 4. B Griffiths 5. A Hall 6. J Bearman (Charvis, 53; sin-bin 71-83) 7. J Ringer (Bearman, 73) 8. N Fitisemanu (Evans, 41).
Replacements: R Wilkes, L Harrison, D Maddocks, I Gough, W Thomas, C Charvis, L Evans, M Jess, M Hercus, G Maule, G Baber.
Referee: J Jones.
BATH 12 NEWPORT 3
26th AUGUST 2006 LAUNCESTON V BATH
A young inexperienced Bath Rugby side beat the Cornish All Blacks 38-27 at Polston Bridge on Saturday holding off a second-half fightback from Launceston.
Bath opened the scoring in the 7th minute with Samoan lock Jonny Faamatuainu sidestepping his marker and then proceeding to run thirty meters or so to score beneath the posts. George Hughes hit a successful conversion.
In the 19th minute Bath scored again. A fantastic run from Gary Holmes culminated in Matt Perry diving over in the corner. Hughes missed the conversion this time from far out on the left. Bath were 12-0 up.
Launceston then managed to put together a series of phases and clawed their way up the pitch, the resulting pressure nearly resulted in a try after a break down Bath’s right wing. Only a desperate tackle from Joe Maddock stopped Launceston going over the whitewash.
A minute later though a poor attempted pop pass by Launceston in attack saw George Hughes capitalize on the error and outpace the opposition’s defense to score in the corner. A missed conversion saw Bath take a 17-0 lead.
Moments later, Mike Mangeolles then exposed the Launceston defense once more, finding a gap and touching down between the posts. Hughes hit the conversion.
In the 35th minute the one-way traffic continued with James Scaysbrook claiming the blue, black and whites fifth try.
Launceston finally responded at the end of the half. Sustained pressure from the Cornish sides pack resulted in a well earned try and also wrote the script for the second half.
Bath went into half-time 31-5 up.
Three minutes into the new half and despite Bath pressure, a dropped ball was hacked ahead by Mark Sweeney (scorer of Launceston’s earlier try) and he outpaced Matt Perry to score his second try.
Bath’s young scrum were struggling against a more mature and experienced opposition. The pressure came to a head in the 47th minute when Launceston scored again, claiming a push-over try in the corner. This time the Launceston fly-half hit a successful conversion. It was now 31-17.
A series of substitutions further lowered the average age of the Bath side and Launceston used this to their advantage scoring two more tries and getting closer and closer to Bath’s lead reducing the score to 31-27.
Just as it looked like Launceston would overhaul Bath, the visitors managed to reassert their first half presence and finished the game with sustained pressure in the Launceston line and from a line-out, the ball found its way to second-half substitute Blayne Shreeve who darted over the line to score. Shreeve then converted his own try.
Bath won the game 38-27 but Launceston should be given credit for coming back into the game and pushing Bath Rugby all the way despite being so far behind at half-time.
Bath Rugby: M Perry, Banahan (C. Perry, 80), Maddock (Shreeve, 50), Mangeolles, Cuthbert (Davey, 40), Hughes, Travagli (Depledge, 80); Ovens, Ward (Brooker, 40), Jarvis, Smith, Faamatuainu (Bye, 63), Scaysbrook, Miller, Holmes
16th SEPTEMBER 2006 NORTHAMPTON V BATH
Northampton Saints inflicted a disappointing 33-18 defeat on Bath at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, out-scoring the away team by four tries to two.
Steve Meehan afterwards rued a first half in which his side could not get into their game, and where indiscipline proved costly. Indeed, only five minutes had passed when Kiwi Bruce Reihana slotted his first penalty, although that was swiftly cancelled out when Olly Barkley’s strike from 47 metres punished the Saints for not staying on their feet at a ruck.
The New Zealander’s second penalty, given for being offside, was kicked from inside the Bath 22, and his third was taken almost from the halfway line, but dead in front of the posts. Reihana’s successes were evidence, if it were needed, that for the opposition to concede penalties to Northampton from anywhere in their own half was as near asking for three points to be awarded them.
To compound the problem, the referee made Zak Feaunati paid the price for another offence at the breakdown by sending him to the sin-bin half-way through the first period. The Saints immediately looked to capitalise on their man advantage. After a testing kick into the Bath half, the ball swung right and although Bath scrambled it into touch, a textbook catch-and-drive at the lineout pushed Scottish prop Tom Smith over the whitewash, and put his side 14-3 up.
A chance to cut the deficit fell to Barkley soon after but his attempt shaved the right-hand upright. The Saints scored again just before half-time when they wheeled a seemingly innocuous scrum just inside the Bath half and Mark Robinson set off down the blindside, and passed to Robbie Kydd. Joe Maddock brought him down, but somehow the full-back smuggled a back-hand pass to Sean Lamont, whose try Reihana converted.
Yet Bath now proved their ability to play rugby. From the restart, they launched a zippy attack, and eventually a cross-field kick by Chris Malone bounced towards Feaunati, who flicked it to Andy Higgins and the wing touched down.
Barkley converted and also notched the first points after the break, with a penalty in front of the posts given for holding on. Bath certainly played better in this period, but could not take all their opportunities, while in contrast, the Saints, notably Carlos Spencer, showed their ability to conjure something from nothing.
Scooping the ball from the floor in his own half, the former All Black left several Bath players groping at his ankles before passing to Kydd for the full-back to score. However, the home team was forced to defend for the middle period of the half, but Bath chances went begging: a catch-and-drive was deemed to have been held up over the line, and Joe Maddock could not quite take another cross-field kick by Malone.
And no sooner did the ball go loose than Spencer put himself on the scoresheet, touching down under the posts, making the conversion simple for Reihana. Bath’s consolation was to be the last to score again, Michael Stephenson rounding off the attempt to score a try after a penalty that was kicked to touch.
Afterwards, Meehan addressed both the positive and negative aspects of the performance: “I thought we could have won it. That second-half performance was very good but in some respects the damage was done in the first half. Out of the first 40 minutes we probably played for two, and scored a nice try to finish off that half. But the rest of the half, we just weren’t in it.
“In that first half we couldn’t find our game. We couldn’t control the ball, our set piece wasn’t as good as it should have been and any ball that we had we seemed to kick away, as a result probably of their defensive pressure.”
5: Penalty Reihana, 3-0
7: Pen Barkley, 3-3
13: Pen Reihana, 6-3
17: Pen Reihana, 9-3
24: Try Smith, 14-3
37: Try Lamont, Conversion Reihana, 21-3
40: Try Higgins, Con Barkley, 21-10
43: Pen Barkley, 21-13
52: Try Kydd, 26-13
76: Try Spencer, Con Reihana, 33-13
80: Try Stephenson, 33-18
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. A Higgins (Stephenson, 58) 13. S Berne 12. O Barkley (Davis, 77) 11. J Maddock 10. C Malone 9. A Williams (Walshe, 41) 1. D Barnes (Flatman, 53) 2. L Mears (Hawkins, 77) 3. D Bell 4. R Fidler (Faamatuainu, 77) 5. D Grewcock (sin-bin: 80+8) 6. P Short 7. G Delve (Goodman, 15) 8. I Feaunati (captain; sin-bin: 20-30).
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. D Flatman 18. C Goodman 19. J Faamatuainu 20. N Walshe 21. R Davis 22. M Stephenson.
NORTHAMPTON: 15. R Kydd (Myring, 74) 14. S Lamont 13. B Reihana (captain) 12. D Quinlan 11. B Cohen 10. C Spencer 9. M Robinson 1. T Smith 2. S Thompson (Richmond, 55) 3. P Barnard (Budgen, 75) 4. M Lord 5. C Short (Damien Browne, 75) 6. P Tupai (Lewitt, 70) 7. D Fox 8. Daniel Browne (Easter, 74).
Replacements: 16. D Richmond 17. C Budgen 18. Damien Browne 19. M Easter 20. B Lewitt 21. I Vass 22. L Myring.
Referee: W Barnes.
RESULT NORTHAMPTON 33 BATH 18
23rd SEPTEMBER 2006 BATH V WORCESTER
Bath Rugby signed off the opening batch of four Guinness Premiership matches with a hard-fought 17-11 win over Worcester Warriors at the Rec on Saturday.
Coach Steve Meehan admitted afterwards that they had made it hard for themselves with an error-strewn first half, in which both sides struggled to hold onto the ball and conceded multiple free kicks at the scrum as the packs got to grips with other.
The Warriors, renowned for the strength of their forwards, deserve credit for stopping Bath from playing a free game as often as they would have liked, but for the dynamic attacks that Bath did manage to put together, they would certainly have hoped for more than one try, that scored by Nick Walshe at the start of the second half.
Bath had in fact started the game at pace, and their positive intent was rewarded with two early penalties, the second of which Olly Barkley kicked over the uprights for a three-pointer in the fourth minute but Shane Drahm levelled the scores when Bath were penalised for hands in the ruck.
Another chance for Bath to take the lead eluded them, when Barkley’s 45-metre attempt at goal slid under the posts. And it seemed that the visitors might go ahead, when they got a penalty in the Bath half. But Drahm kicked for touch, and the ensuing attack failed. Instead, Joe Maddock stole the ball and raced upfield. This time, when the Warriors killed the ball at the ruck, Rowden not only awarded a penalty but reached for his pocket, sending Chris Horsman to the sin-bin. Barkley, from in front of the posts, made no mistake this time.
The outside centre’s radar was still slightly awry, though, and the chance to claim lineout ball after a penalty in the Worcester half when he kicked it over the dead ball line. But nor could Worcester make the most of their possession, and they too turned over the ball during the attack from a penalty, thanks to excellent Bath defence.
The penalty allowed Barkley to drill the ball into the Warriors’ half. Fiddler took the lineout ball, and Lee Mears, who had been working hard all over the park throughout the half, broke towards the line. Fidler appeared in support, but the ball was turned over and the chance to score went begging.
As it was, the sides went into the break on even terms, when Drahm punished Bath for another infringement.
Bath emerged from the dressing room determined to play a more flowing game, and this time crossed the whitewash when Walshe inched over on the far left-hand corner after the Warriors’ defence had been stretched both ways.
But it proved hard to shut Worcester out, and Michael Stephenson was forced to carry the ball over after Marcel Garvey had broken down the left wing, and chipped towards the line. But the attack was repulsed and the ball turned over – an offence committed equally by both sides throughout the game.
Shaun Berne, playing at fly-half after Barkley had gone off with a slight groin injury, eased the home side’s self-inflicted pressure by kicking a drop goal, and the sin-binning of Pat Sanderson gave the Australian the chance to put Bath further ahead, which he took.
Fresh legs kept Bath looking hungry in attack – Meehan praised Rob Hawkins particularly in this regards – but the Warriors, still winless in the campaign, grabbed a losing bonus point with a late try by the newly signed Aleki Lutui in front of the travelling fans.
Although pleased with the win, Meehan agreed it was far from perfect: “Monday morning’s review is going to be interesting. The objective today was to win. We certainly didn’t entertain anyone with our performance but on occasions we were almost there.
“We created opportunities, particularly in the second half – I thought our second-half performance was much better than our first half – and Worcester put plenty of pressure on us as well. Their pack were very good and made life difficult for us.”
4: Penalty Barkley, 3-0
13: Pen Drahm, 3-3
29: Pen Barkley, 6-3
40+6: Pen Drahm, 6-6
48: Try Walshe, 11-6
65: Drop goal Berne, 14-6
69: Pen Berne, 17-6
80+10: Try Lutui, 17-11
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. M Stephenson 13. J Maddock (Cheeseman, 76) 12. O Barkley (Davis, 41) 11. D Bory 10. S Berne 9. N Walshe 1. D Flatman (Bell, 80+9) 2. L Mears (Hawkins, 70) 3. D Bell (Barnes, 59) 4. R Fidler (Scaysbrook, 40-41) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short (Faamatuainu, 70) 7. C Goodman (Scaysbrook, 59) 8. I Feaunati (captain).
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. D Barnes 18. J Scaysbrook 19. J Faamatuainu 20. A Williams 21. R Davis 22. T Cheeseman.
WORCESTER WARRIORS: 15. L Best (Delport, 76) 14. A Havili 13. D Rasmussen 12. T Lombard 11. M Garvey 10. S Drahm (Whatling, 41) 9. R Powell (Powell, 80+1)1. D Morris (Taumoepeau, 58) 2. C Fortey (Lutui, 41) 3. C Horsman (sin-bin: 29-40; Morris, 70) 4. C Gillies 5. T Collier (Blaze, 49) 6. P Sanderson (captain; sin-bin, 68-80+4) 7. T Harding (Taumoepeau, 34) 8. D Hickey (Horstmann, 63).
Replacements: 16.T Taumoepeau 17. A Lutui 18. R Blaze 19. K Horstmann 20. M Powell 21. S Whatling 22. T Delport.
Referee: A Rowden
Attendance: 10, 140
RESULT BATH 17 WORCESTER 11
1st OCTOBER 2006 BRISOL V BATH
A last-minute try by Marko Stanojevic decided a tight match at the Memorial Ground in favour of the home side, Bristol winning 22-15 in Bath’s first EDF Energy Cup match.
It also extended Bristol’s unbeaten run to five, and Steve Meehan, the Bath coach, was as ever frank in expressing his disappointment with the performance. “I thought that we put ourselves under unnecessary pressure in the first half,” he said. “We didn’t play sensibly, and made some individual errors that aren’t acceptable at this level, and when we had opportunities we didn’t finish them off.”
Bristol had an early chance for points through a penalty attempt by Danny Gray, but it hit the woodwork. But he made amends in the sixth minute when he slotted a drop goal after Chris Malone had seen the second of two kicks in a row bounce over the Bristol dead-ball line, resulting in a scrum for Bristol back in the Bath 22.
Bath were pinned back in their half for the opening quarter of an hour or so, but found themselves within scoring distance when a mis-pass by Shaun Berne allowed first Matt Perry and then Ian Davey the chance to show their pace and take Bath well into the other half. Bristol conceded a penalty, which Malone converted to level the scores.
But Bristol, though much altered from the side that had beaten Wasps the week before, were not put off playing adventurous rugby by the damp conditions left by torrential rain before kick-off, and prop Jason Hobson took the Bath defence by surprise when he burst out of a ruck and over the line for a try.
Life was not made any easier for the visitors when Malone was sent to the sin-bin for tripping a Bristol player. But against the odds, Duncan Bell eased their concerns by scoring a try after a penalty and lineout drive, when Bristol had come into the maul offside. Neither conversion having been kicked, the scores were level again and remained so at half-time, Gray having missed a penalty attempt just before.
Just after the restart, a fine tackle by Davey stopped Brian O’Riordan from scoring in the right-hand corner after David Blaney had broken off a scrum down the blindside and passed back-handed to his scrum-half. But the danger was only averted momentarily, for Walter Pozzebon skidded over, set up by a five-metre scrum.
Suddenly, though, Bath shifted up a gear. From his own half, Berne chipped over the advancing defence and caught the ball. With two men outside him, he headed for the line, but was pulled down short by David Lemi. Fortunately, Michael Stephenson was on hand and took the ball over to score. Malone added the two points.
Andy Williams nearly added to the scores with a tapped penalty on the Bristol ten-metre line. He ran almost the try line but the ball went forward as the cover tackle caught up with him. From the resulting scrum, Bristol then knocked on themselves and a string of penalties and knock-ons saw Bath camped on their line for some minutes, but were frustratingly unable to convert their possession into points.
Instead, Bristol worked their way back over halfway with a series of penalties, and with full-time approaching, Stanojevic crossed in the right-hand corner, and Gray’s conversion sealed the win.
Meehan was pleased with certain players, naming Davey, making his first-team debut, and James Scaysbrook, for his second-half efforts. But his final assessment summed up the side’s problems at the present: “At times we played some good rugby today but it’s difficult when you play in fits and starts.”
6: Drop goal Gray, 3-0
18: Penalty Malone, 3-3
24: Try Hobson, 8-3
33: Try Bell, 8-8
47: Try Pozzebon, Conversion Gray, 15-8
51: Try Stephenson, Con Malone, 15-15
80: Try Stanojevic, Con Gray, 22-15
BATH: 15. M Perry 14. M Stephenson 13. T Cheeseman 12. S Berne (Maddock, 57) 11. I Davey 10. C Malone (sin-bin: 27-39) 9. A Williams (Travagli, 70) 1. D Barnes (Flatman, 52) 2. R Hawkins (Brooker, 52) 3. D Bell (Barnes, 78) 4. R Fidler (Smith, 48) 5. J Faamatuainu 6. J Scaysbrook 7. C Goodman (Short, 52) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. C Brooker 17. D Flatman 18. P Short 19. D Smith 20. P Travagli 21. J Maddock 22. N Abendanon
BRISTOL: 15. B Stortoni (Arscott, 78) 14. M Stanojevic 13. W Pozzebon 12. A Reay 11. D Lemi 10. D Gray 9. B O’Riordan 1. A Clarke (Irish, 68) 2. D Blaney (Nelson, 62) 3. J Hobson (Thompson, 74) 4. M Sambucetti (Attwood, 79) 5. N Budgett 6. A To’oala (Martin-Redman, 60) 7. C Short (captain) 8. G Lewis
Replacements: 16. M Irish 17. S Nelson 18. D Attwood 19. R Martin-Redman 20. W Thomson 21. G Nicholls 22. L Arscott
Referee: S Davey
RESULT BRISTOL22 BATH 15
7th OCTOBER 2006 BATH V OSPREYS
Two tries in three minutes by Tom Cheeseman gave Bath hope of a comeback against the Ospreys at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, but in the end they succumbed to defeat, 24-31.
As Steve Meehan said afterwards, the match was disappointing not only because it puts Bath out of contention in the EDF Energy Cup, but also because his team did not make the most of the chances they had.
Twice the Ospreys were reduced to 14 men, once before half-time, Jason Spice the culprit, for killing the ball; and not long after Spice’s return to the field, Ian Evans replaced him in the cooler for foul play at the lineout. But each time the most Bath made of their man advantage was a penalty by Nick Walshe, the scrum-half bearing the responsibility of both place-kicker and captain on the day.
Walshe had given Bath an early lead with a penalty in the fifth minute, given for offside, but a number of other opportunities to score went begging and then Jonathan Vaughton took the visitors ahead with a try on the far left after the Ospreys had worked they way through a number of phases near the Bath line.
The Ospreys then gathered the ball at the restart, but excellent work by Dave Ward turned it over, eventually allowing Walshe another penalty attempt, which he kicked, to edge Bath ahead again.
The lead was short-lived, as a testing kick by Spice was taken by James Hook, and the up-and-coming Welsh centre handed off Nick Abendanon to score, this time on the right-hand side of the field. The trusty boot of Connor, who was later named EDF Energy man of the match, struck twice within a few minutes, once with a drop goal, once with a penalty, to stretch the Ospreys’ lead, before the yellow cards and accompanying penalties allowed Bath to regain some ground.
Indeed, these two kicks by Walshe brought the home team to within a score of the Welshmen, and on at least two occasions, Bath looked destined for tries but with Evans still off the field, it was in fact Stefan Terblanche, the Ospreys’ South African full-back, who crossed the whitewash, capitalising on turnover ball from a ruck and breaking upfield.
12-25 looked like a winning score, but the quick-thinking Walshe caught the Ospreys’ defence off-guard with a tapped free kick, and a superb angle by Cheeseman saw the young Welshman reach over the line under the posts for his first try. His second was born deep in the Bath half, beginning with a break by Jonny Faamatuainu, who, like Lee Mears, had quite an impact when he came on as a replacement.
However, the conversion of the second try eluded Walshe, it being from near the touchline, and with a 25-24, the Ospreys dealt clinically with Bath’s hopes, with drops goals by first Terblanche and then Hook.
Meehan’s was disappointed on several counts: “It’s almost a repeat of last week’s performance,” he said. “It’s as if we didn’t learn anything from Bristol. All competitions are important. The fact that we are out of this one is one thing, but it’s the performance that annoys me. We had plenty of chances to win that match and we should have. We should have been able to do more damage to Ospreys than we did.”
But on a positive note, he was pleased that some of Bath’s younger players – including Tom Cheeseman, recently returned from injury – have had a chance in the last few weeks: “I thought Tom Cheeseman played very well, considering he’s only been back a short time, and he picked up a couple of nice tries as a result. Ian Davey’s another one, and Chris Goodman again showed that he’s a player with a big future. And over the course of last weekend and again this weekend we’ve used our three other hookers apart from Mears, to give them some opportunity to see where they are.”
5: Penalty Walshe, 3-0
17: Try Vaughton, 3-5
20: Pen Walshe, 6-5
22: Try Hook, Conversion Connor, 6-12
29: Drop goal Connor, 6-15
31: Pen Connor, 6-18
36: Pen Walshe, 9-18
47: Pen Walshe, 12-18
53: Try Terblanche, Con Connor, 12-25
58: Try Cheeseman, Con Walshe, 19-25
61: Try Cheeseman, 24-25
75: Drop goal Terblanche, 24-28
80: Drop goal Hook, 24-31
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. I Davey 13. T Cheeseman 12. J Maddock 11. D Bory (Stephenson, 41) 10. M Perry (Mangeolles, 73) 9. N Walshe (captain) 1. D Flatman (Barnes, 52) 2. D Ward (Mears, 41) 3. D Bell 4. D Smith (Short, 50) 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook 8. C Goodman (Faamatuainu, 53)
Replacements: 16. L Mears 17. D Barnes 18. P Short 19. J Faamatuainu 20. M Mangeolles 21. M Stephenson 22. P Travagli
OSPREYS: 15. S Terblanche 14. R Mustoe 13. T Selley (Parker, 64) 12. J Hook 11. J Vaughton 10. S Connor 9. J Spice 1. P James (captain) 2. B Williams (Bennett, 61) 3. A Millward (Griffiths, 63) 4. L Bateman (Powell, 74) 5. I Evans 6. L Beech (A W Jones, 48) 7. S Tandy 8. J Thomas
Replacements: 16. H Bennett 17. C Griffiths 18. M Powell 19. A W Jones 20. M Roberts 21. S Parker 22. L Byrne
Referee: D Pearson
Attendance: 10, 600
RESULT BATH 24 OSPREYS 31
20th OCTOBER 2006 MONTPELLIER
As many English sides have found to their cost, it is not easy to play in France and win. In Montpellier on Friday night, Bath fought hard to take the spoils in their first match of the European Challenge Cup, 14-21.
Although Montpellier put out a young side, any suggestions that they might not compete were shortlived, thanks to their tenacious defence and typical French counter-attacking flair. In any case, with the constant accompaniment of the supporters¹ band, and with a pitch that cut up from the word go, they could never be taken lightly.
Although they went into the break 11-0 ahead, Bath¹s first half contained many more scoring opportunities than that. The first points came after Malone had driven an early penalty to touch, and the lineout in turn surged towards the home tryline. Indeed, they went over, but the referee had already blown his whistle again, and this time they lost their lineout ball.
Montpellier cleared their lines, but another attack ensued and this time Malone took a successful shot at goal.
Shortly after they were made to defend their own lines, as Montpellier strung together several phases in attack, but they managed to do so and eventually put a few of the travelling supporters¹ minds at rest by scoring a try midway through the first half. Again, it came from a lineout, which made ground before the ball was released to the backs. It swung right and though it went to ground, Shaun Berne picked it up, and it found its way to Nick Abendanon via Joe Maddock and Michael Stephenson. Malone¹s conversion attempt hit the uprights.
Another chance followed, with a five-metre scrum from turnover ball, but Stephenson was tackled into touch just short of the line. A searing break by Berne then looked certain to end in a score, but the supporting Stephenson was forced to cut inside by the cover tackle, and Bath had to settle for another penalty in front of the uprights.
With half-time approaching, a lineout on the Montpellier line, with Louis Picamoles in the sin-bin, might also have yielded a score, but the ball was stolen.
After the break, Bath found themselves on the back foot. One attack was just thwarted, when the ball went forward over the line, but because Bath conceded a penalty at the scrum the danger continued, and eventually Samoan international Philemon Toleafoa was driven over.
With the bit between their teeth and the crowd behind them, Montpellier might have made it 10-11, but a penalty attempt was driven across the posts and instead Bath scored next when Malone slotted one for his side. Another chance soon followed but it shaved the right-hand post.
To the relief of the Bath fans, a try for Peter Short from a catch-and-drive move eventually put daylight between the sides. It was just as well, as Montpellier notched up a try of their own in injury time via Jharay Russell, after a scrum set up by a counter attack from their own half.
Steve Meehan was rightly very pleased: ³I thought, given the conditions, it was a good performance,² he said. ³All the areas that let us down last week [against Saracens] that they guys had focused on was much improved, particularly in the pack. It wasn¹t a game when you could throw the ball around but the guys really adapted well.
11: Penalty Malone, 0-3
23: Try Abendanon, 0-8
33: Pen Malone, 0-11
49: Try Toleafoa, Conversion Régis, 7-11
62: Pen Malone, 7-14
78: Try Short, Con Berne, 7-21
80+5: Try Russell, Con Aucagne, 14-21
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (Perry, 65) 14. M Stephenson 13. S Berne 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. J Maddock 10. C Malone (Cheeseman, 75) 9. N Walshe (Travagli, 80) 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears 3. D Flatman 4. P Short 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie (captain; Faamatuainu, 80) 7. J Scaysbrook (Goodman, 72) 8. I Feaunati.
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. L Ovens 18. C Goodman 19. J Faamatuainu 20.
T Cheeseman 21. M Perry 22. P Travagli.
Montpellier: 15. J-M Alcalde 14. S Logerot (Boussuge, 72) 13. F Charrier 12.
R Lespinas (Mercier, 62) 11. A Koko 10. F Todeschini (Aucagne, 59). J Tomas; 1. P Toleafoa 2. N Grelon (Caudullo, 38) 3. N Descamps (Vigna, 51) 4. G Uva 5. M Gorgodze 6. J Russell (captain) 7. C Mathieu (Durand, 41) 8. L Picamoles (sin-bin 39-46; Macurdy, 80+5).
Replacements: 16. J Caudullo 17. A Vigna 18. M Macurdy 19. M Durand 20. J Boussuge 21. D Aucagne 22. S Mercier.
Referee: P Allen (Scotland)
RESULT MONTPELLIER 14 BATH 21
28th OCTOBER 2006 CONNACHT V BATH
Bath snatched victory from Connacht with an injury-time try by David Bory, converted by Chris Malone, to make it two from two in their European Challenge Cup campaign.
The 21-19 win did not make for comfortable viewing for the home fans, and Steve Meehan, the Acting Head Coach, admitted afterwards: “There is a good argument for Connacht winning that.” The Irish had the better of possession in the first half, took the lead after five minutes, and controlled their own ball well. In contrast, Bath seemed to take a long time to get into the match, and although they had done so by half-time, they struggled to get out of their own territory for much of the second half.
Ironically, it was the sin-binning of David Flatman with ten minutes left on the clock that finally sparked his team. At this point, Connacht led by ten points, but Paul Warwick, the fly-half, whose boot had been a reliable source of both points and position throughout, over-cooked his penalty kick towards touch, and as it drifted over the dead-ball line, the chance to increase the lead evaporated. Instead, after a series of pick-and-drive phases, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu steamed towards the tryline, and the ball was subsequently recycled and passed to Cheeseman for the Welshman to score.
Malone missed the conversion, so it was 14-19, but indiscipline by the visitors allowed Bath another opportunity. With Bath now restored to 15 men, the rolling maul from a lineout took the ball towards the line. It was held up, but two scrums later they worked a short-side move through the backs to David Bory, who dived over. The score at 19-all, Malone had still to convert, but he did, from the right-hand-side.
Connacht had taken an early lead in the first half, when Nick Walshe strayed off side at a scrum on the Bath 22 and Paul Warwick kicked the penalty from just right of centre. He missed with another attempt from the halfway line soon after.
Bath had a golden opportunity to overtake them ten minutes later. A penalty kicked to touch gave them a lineout deep in the Connacht 22. The Irishmen were penalised again, and with John Fogarty, the captain, sent to the sin-bin, Bath used their rolling maul to excellent effect from another lineout ball. They were just inches away from the line, but with play static, the referee blew for a scrum. Here Bath were penalised, and Connacht had the chance to clear their lines.
However, the next time Bath were in striking distance, they took the opportunity to go for goal and Malone’s attempt was successful.
The half continued with little action that could have been said to light up a drizzly autumn afternoon. But Connacht seemed to have the better of the play, and were rewarded for that when Daniel Riordan took an inside ball after a scrum and, though he juggled with the ball, scythed through the defence to score under the posts, making the conversion easy for Warwick.
Bath responded almost immediately from the restart, when Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu made good ground after a lineout, and Connacht were penalised. Malone’s penalty attempt went through the uprights. As the half wore into injury time, he had another chance when replacement scrum-half Chris Keane was shown the yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Andy Beattie, so Bath went into the break just a point behind.
They emerged from the dressing room in better form, but after seven minutes conceded a penalty on the attack for crossing, and Connacht once more took the reins. Warwick kicked two more penalties, one for hands in the ruck, one for holding on, and then the Australian nailed a drop goal, to leave Bath needing two scores to win.
Two scores came, with Cheeseman and Bory’s tries, and with more added time to play, the Irish desperately fought to recover the lead. But the ball went forward, Bath got the scrum, and the referee blew the final whistle after Malone hoofed the ball into the crowd.
Meehan was certainly impressed with the way the visitors prevented his charges from getting going: “They have been very proud of their record in this competition over the last few years, and rightly so,” he said. “We didn’t handle them as well as we should have done, until the last 15 minutes.
And with preparation and training all going well, he said that there is a mental problem to be addressed: “We have got to identify what makes us tick and make sure that we are ticking for 80 minutes.”
5: Penalty Warwick, 0-3
24: Pen Malone, 3-3
34: Try Riordan, Conversion Warwick, 3-10
38: Pen Malone, 6-10
40+2: Pen Malone, 9-10
47: Pen Warwick, 9-13
55: Pen Warwick, 9-16
64: Drop goal Warwick, 9-19
73: Try Cheeseman, 14-19
80+2: Try Bory, Con Malone, 21-19
BATH: 15. M Perry 14. T Cheeseman 13. S Berne 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. R Hawkins (Mears, 56) 3. D Flatman (sin-bin: 68-80; Feaunati, 80) 4. P Short (Grewcock, 41) 5. Rob Fidler 6. A Beattie (captain) 7. J Scaysbrook 8. I Feaunati (Ovens, 69).
Replacements: 16. L Mears 17. L Ovens 18. C Goodman 19. D Grewcock 20. M Stephenson 21. J Maddock 22. A Williams
CONNACHT: 15. D Riordan 14. K Matthews (McPhillips, 41) 13. J Hearty 12. G Williams 11. D Yapp 10. P Warwick 9. T Tierney (Keane, 27; sin-bin: 40+2-50) 1. R Hogan 2. J Fogarty (captain; sin-bin: 13-24) 3. B Sturgess 4. D Gannon 5. A Farley 6. J Muldoon 7. R Ofisa 8. C Rigney (Flavin, 15-24).
Replacements: 16. A Flavin 17. B Wilkinson 18. M Swift 19. B O’Connor 20. C Keane 21. C McPhillips 22. T Robinson.
Referee: D Rosich (France).
BATH 21 CONNACHT 19
4th NOVEMBER 2006 BATH V LDN IRISH
Like Bath last week against Connacht, London Irish snuck home in the closing minutes of the match, taking the spoils from this Guinness Premiership encounter at the Rec 21-17.
The home team left the field especially disappointed, as it was generally a much-improved performance compared with recent games. Indeed, Steve Meehan said afterwards: “The guys are absolutely shattered. They put their hearts and souls into it and I thought they were everything we have been criticised for not being.”
Bath were 17-6 ahead just after half-time, having taken the lead as early as the third minute, when a confident strike from Chris Malone from inside his own half punished Irish indiscipline at the scrum. Barry Everitt missed a chance to equalise a few minutes later, but his side showed glimpses of the danger they posed in the backs through the likes of wings Dominic Shabbo and Sailosi Tagicakibau, and Seilala Mapusua in the centre.
Everitt converted his second attempt, an easier shot in front of goal. The game blew up midway through the first half, when Zak Feaunati was upended in the tackle by David Paice, sparking a reaction from both sets of players that resulted in the sin-binning of Paice for the tackle, and Neal Hatley and Peter Short for fighting.
Bath could not immediately capitalise on their man advantage. Malone put the ball into touch for a lineout, but the resulting maul was pulled down, and a second penalty awarded. But although James Scaysbrook took the ball, it was subsequently lost forward. Irish regained possession, but were then penalised for crossing and Malone made good the three points from in front of the posts.
The team was attacking with confidence, and a strong run by Eliota Fuiamaono-Sapolu, continued by Rob Hawkins, gave Malone another chance, when Irish failed to roll away in the tackle, and the fly-half stretched the lead to 9-3.
The visitors generally had the better of territory in the first half, and made it count in injury time, pressing the Bath line and winning another penalty, through which Everitt closed the gap. But shortly after the restart, Bath regained the ball, Nick Walshe broke through, and gave Feaunati a clear run to the line.
Five minutes into the second half, Malone extended the lead after a superb break down the left wing by Shaun Berne, and although Bath were soon on the back foot again, a penalty to London Irish awarded within dangerous distance of Bath’s tryline was reversed after the intervention of the touch judge, as a result of which replacement bob Casey was shown the yellow card, and the home team cleared to touch.
However, the relief was temporary and soon David Barnes too was given ten minutes on the sidelines, for killing the ball as Bath scrambled back in defence. Having missed an earlier attempt, Everitt secured three more points.
The penalty count mounted in the visitors’ favour, and though one catch-and-drive move was turned over by excellent defence, Robbie Russell eventually crashed over, and just a point separated the sides after Everitt’s successful conversion.
The number of stoppages there had been meant there was plenty of time left to play, and Everitt set up the next try with a kick that put the Irish deep into the Bath half once more. The throw-in fell to Bath, but the ball went astray and as Irish accepted it gratefully. Juan Leguizamon, who with Casey had made a great impression since taking the field, scored the try that put his side ahead.
Still time remained, but for all their efforts, Bath could not pull off the requisite score. Meehan was rueful afterwards: “Perhaps had a couple of decisions done our way in the second half, it could have been a different result.”
Refusing to cast judgement on the tackle that caused the first-half dust-up, he said: “What I’m concerned about is getting back in the changing room and making the guys feel as good about themselves as they can after that performance.”
4: Penalty Malone, 3-0
15: Pen Everitt, 3-3
25: Pen Malone, 6-3
38: Pen Malone, 9-3
40+4: Pen Everitt, 9-6
40+5: Try Feaunati, 14-6
46: Pen Malone, 17-6
63: Pen Everitt, 17-9
71: Try Russell, Conversion Everitt, 17-16
80+1: Try Leguizamon, 17-21
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (Cheeseman, 59) 14. M Stephenson 13. S Berne 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. D Bory (Maddock, 54) 10. C Malone 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes (sin-bin: 61-74) 2. R Hawkins (Ward, 80+3) 3. D Flatman 4. P Short (sin-bin: 20-34) 5. R Fidler (Faamatuainu, 36) 6. A Beattie (captain) 7. J Scaysbrook (Goodman, 74) 8. I Feaunati (Ovens, 64-74).
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. C Goodman 19. J Faamatuainu 20. A Williams
21. T Cheeseman 22. J Maddock
LONDON IRISH: 15. D Armitage 14. D Shabbo (Skuse, 24-34) 13. S Mapusua 12. R Flutey 11. S Tagicakibau 10. B Everitt 9. P Hodgson (Rees, 80+6)1. N Hatley (captain; sin-bin: 20-34; Lea’aetoa, 79) 2. D Paice (sin-bin: 20-34; Russell, 56) 3. T Lea’aetoa (Skuse, 63) 4. K Roche 5. J Hudson (Casey, 48; sin-bin: 54-66) 6. A McCullen (Russell, 24-34) 7.O Magne (Danaher, 48) 8. P Murphy (Leguizamon, 66).
Replacements: 16. R Skuse 17. R Russell 18. B Casey 19. J Leguizamon 20. D Danaher 21. R Rees 22. G Tiesi
Referee: R Maybank
RESULT BATH 17 LONSON IRISH 21
12TH NOVEMBER 2006 WASPS V BATH
London Wasps gave Bath a lesson in clinical finishing chances at Adams Park on Sunday, racking up seven tries to two in a comprehensive 47-18 victory.
Although Bath had almost all the possession for the first ten minutes of the first half, and with it plenty of time in Wasps territory, they could not bring up any points to show for it. In contrast, almost as soon as Wasps first got into the Bath half, they scored with enviable efficiency. And not just once.
Having absorbed all that Bath had thrown at them, including a drop-goal attempt by Michael Stephenson, two successive penalties took Wasps into the Bath 22, and from a lineout and a series of pick and drives, Joe Worsley popped up a pass for Fraser Waters to score under the posts, and Mark Van Gisbergen converted easily.
Just three minutes later, Wasps capitalised on loose ball after Nick Abendanon put up a high kick which rebounded off a team-mate. First Simon Amor gathered the ball in his half, and made good ground, then slick passing between Ayoola Erinle and Van Gisbergen continued the move, and Edd Thrower just stretched over in the right-hand corner.
Shortly after, Bath’s defence breathed a sigh of relief when Tom Voyce was denied a try by a forward pass, but they were stung again when a hasty drop-out by Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu rebounded off Tom Payne, and the Wasps backs pounced, Thrower scoring his second try in almost the same spot as his first.
Obstruction at the restart allowed Chris Malone to attempt a penalty, and so put Bath on the board. But the deficit returned to 17 points when Van Gisbergen kicked a penalty for coming in the ruck from the wrong side.
The second half began rather like the first, but Bath’s efforts in the first ten minutes this time yielded three points, through the boot of Malone. But Wasps then resumed their dominance, when Amor saw a chink of light round the fringes of the ruck and broke upfield, running sixty metres before he was hauled down. As Bath scrabbled back to organise their defence, the ball swung right and with Thrower unmarked, the right wing skated over for his hat-trick try.
It seemed like a long way back, but Bath never gave up, and their perseverance was rewarded. David Bory was just tackled into touch at the corner flag, but they headed towards the Wasps tryline with a simple series of pick and drives, and James Scaysbrook thus took the ball over to score.
But it was a brief moment of joy. A midfield break by replacement Danny Cipriani took play back into the Bath half, and as play proceeded to the line, Van Gisbergen did not need Thrower on his right, but scored himself. The clock ticked on into injury time, and Bath endeavoured still to make up for their flaws, but perhaps they tried too hard, and Cipriani, making his first-team debut, latched onto a pass in midfield by Bory, and sprinted a good sixty metres to score under the uprights.
Even so, it was not over, and after a pause for Andy Williams to be replaced, Stephenson caught the Wasps defence on the hop with a quickly taken free kick, and touched down. But it really was Wasps’ day, a point emphasised by Thrower’s fourth try at the end.
“Obviously the players are upset”, Steve Meehan said afterwards, the Head Coach himself clearly disappointed as well. Highlighting two particular areas that require work, he said: “First, our missed tackles. Then, at times we controlled the ball well and put Wasps under pressure, but then turned the ball over, and Wasps were dynamic and quick to react.”
13: Try Waters, Conversion Van Gisbergen, 7-0
16: Try Thrower, 12-0
25: Try Thrower, 17-0
27: Penalty Malone, 17-3
33: Pen Van Gisbergen, 20-3
45: Pen Malone, 20-6
51: Try Thrower, 25-6
58: Pen Walder, 28-6
69: Try Scaysbrook, 28-11
76: Try Van Gisbergen, Con Walder, 35-11
80+3: Try Cipriani, Con Walder, 42-11
80+7: Try Stephenson, Con Malone, 42-18
80+9: Try Thrower, 47-18
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (Maddock, 58) 14. M Stephenson 13. T Cheeseman (Walker, 72) 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. A Williams (Walshe, 80+6) 1. D Barnes 2. R Hawkins 3. D Flatman 4. P Short 5. H Louw (Faamatuainu, 70) 6. A Beattie (captain) 7. J Scaysbrook 8. I Feaunati.
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. C Goodman 19. J Faamatuainu 20. N Walshe 21. C Walker 22. J Maddock.
WASPS: 15. M Van Gisbergen 14. E Thrower 13. A Erinle 12. F Waters (Cipriani, 70) 11. T Voyce 10. A King (captain; Walder, 41) 9. S Amor (Reddan, 76) 1. T Payne 2. J Ward (Barrett, 68) 3. P Bracken (Adams, 73) 4. S Shaw (Skivington, 76) 5. R Birkett 6. J Haskell 7. J O’Connor (Dallaglio, 68) 8. J Worsley.
Replacements: 16. J Barrett 17. N Adams 18. G Skivington 19. L Dallaglio 20. E Reddan 21. D Walder 22. D Cipriani
Referee: D Rose (A Rowden, 53)
RESULT WASPS 47 BATH 18
18th NOVEMBER 2006 BATH V BRISTOL
A typically tense derby at the Recreation Ground on a chilly November evening concluded with victory for the visitors, as high-flying Bristol eventually overcame a committed Bath team 19-12.
A converted try by Lee Robinson was the difference between the sides, but Bath pick up a valuable losing bonus point from the result, and Acting Head Coach Steve Meehan was pleased with the commitment of the team: “The effort was great; it was like it was a fortnight ago against London Irish and after those sort of performances you can’t question their character. It was a question of missed opportunities because we did have our chances, we went very close at times, but we put ourselves under so much pressure in the second half that we gave Bristol too many opportunities.”
Bath’s intent was evident from the start. From a lineout in the second minute, the forwards drove at the Bristol pack, and as the ball was released, the visitors came offside, giving Olly Barkley an early chance at goal, but the kick passed the left-hand upright. With five minutes on the clock, Bristol had a chance themselves, when Danny Grewcock was penalised for not rolling away from the tackle after a scrum on Bath’s 22. Hill made no mistake, and Bristol took the lead.
Minutes later, the television referee was called in to adjudicate on a near score by Rob Hawkins. Barkley’s kick had taken Bath well into the visitors’ half, Bristol took the lineout quickly and kicked to Jonny Faamatuainu. His run set up several phases of attacking play before the ball reached the Bath hooker, but Bristol’s covering tacklers just shoved him into touch. The home side kept up the pressure, spurning a kick at goal as Bristol strayed offside. But despite three successive lineouts and a scrum, Bath could not make anything of the chance, and Bristol regained the ball with a free kick.
By midway through the first half, the home team had had the lion’s share of possession, and with the next kickable penalty, given for offside, Barkley equalised. Another opportunity fell to the centre after a useful box-kick by Nick Walshe, but it scudded off the boot. Still, on the half hour he made good another attempt to take Bath ahead.
When Dan Ward-Smith broke off a scrum in his own half, the visiting side showed the form that has taken them to the top of the Guinness Premiership. Perry’s tackle brought him down, but as play continued towards the Hamptons Stand, there was relief for the home crowd when Bristol knocked on. Berne cleared from the scrum, but Bristol retained possession and battered Bath’s defensive line. Given a penalty, they first took a scrum, but the clock had wound down when Bath were penalised again, so Hill opted to kick at goal and levelled the scores at the break.
Bath attacked from the restart, and a superb break by Maddock, who pirouetted round the advancing defence, took play within ten metres of the tryline, but the defenders eventually hauled Maddock down and the ball was lost forward. The most extended period pf pressure yet by Bristol ensued, after a penalty kick to touch by Hill set up an attacking lineout just metres out. Their attack was thwarted once when wing Robinson was hustled into touch by Matt Perry, and again when Andy Beattie snaffled Bristol ball at the ruck. But eventually Bath conceded a penalty in front of the posts, and Hill made no mistake.
Minutes later, though, Barkley knocked over an excellent attempt from 40 metres as Bristol failed to roll away in the tackle. Hill then took the visitors ahead with another penalty, but it remained tense until Robinson scythed through two Bath defenders for the first try of the match, which Hill converted. Bath responded with a vigorous attack which allowed Barkley to narrow the deficit with a penalty kick for offside.
As the match veered into injury time, Hill lined up another penalty kick that would have left Bath needing two scores to win, but the hitherto accurate fly-half missed. However, the countdown clock signalled time with Bristol still in possession, and they booted out the ball to leave the Rec victorious for only the second time in their history.
Meehan picked out a failure to get out of their own half, and some poor tactical kicking as particular reasons for the loss, but he is confident that, with continued hard work, a win is just around the corner: “There’s too much talent, and they are working too hard for them to be denied. It’ll come, they are almost there. It’s hugely disappointing for the players. You can’t walk off the field after that and feel anything but pride for them.”
7: Penalty Hill, 0-3
23: Pen Barkley, 3-3
30: Pen Barkley, 6-3
40+8: Pen Hill, 6-6
51: Pen Hill, 6-9
55: Pen Barkley, 9-9
63: Pen Hill, 9-12
69: Try Robinson, Conversion Hill, 9-19
74: Pen Barkley, 12-19
BATH: 15. M Perry 14. J Maddock 13. O Barkley 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. N Abendanon (Walker, 61) 10. S Berne 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. R Hawkins 3. D Flatman (Ovens, 78) 4. P Short 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie (captain) 7. J Scaysbrook 8. J Faamatuainu
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. H Louw 19. C Goodman 20. P Travagli 21. C Walker 22. D Bory
BRISTOL: 15. L Arscott 14. L Robinson 13. N Brew 12. R Higgitt 11. C Morgan 10. D Hill 9. B O’Riordan 1. D 2. M Regan (Blaney, 80+2) 3. D Crompton 4. R Winters 5. G Llewellyn (captain) 6. N Budgett (To’oala, 52) 7. J El Abd 8.D Ward-Smith
Replacements: 16. D Blaney 17. A Clarke 18. G Lewis 19. A To’oala 20. G Nicholls 21.J Strange 22. S Cox
Referee: R Maybank
BATH 12 BRISTOL 19
25th NOVEMBER 2006 BATH V NEWCASTLE
It would be premature to suggest that this win, by 20-14, over Newcastle Falcons marks a turning point in Bath’s season. But Saturday’s victory at the Recreation Ground, secured with a try by Dave Ward, arrested the club’s run of three defeats, elevated them to eight position in the league, and ensured that they ended this latest brought this latest block of Guinness Premiership matches to a close on a high.
Ward, whose all-round performance earned him the Moon and Sixpence Man of the Match award, was driven over in the far left corner after a lineout, a position set up after he had snaffled Newcastle ball in their own half. With Chev Walker and Nick Abendanon in support, Bath surged over halfway, and Walker’s chip forced Newcastle’s Loki Crichton to kick the ball into touch. Andy Beattie won the lineout, and once Ward had touched down, Barkley added the conversion. Nine tense minutes were left to play, but Newcastle’s continued attempts to snatch the win were finally thwarted when Ward again turned them over. Bath countered through Barkley and Stephenson, whose chip into touch was the final act of the match.
If the feelings of relief were stronger than those of joy, it may be because fifteen minutes from time, the visitors had taken the lead when they caught Bath’s defence on the hop: Crichton chipped the ball towards Bath’s line after they had turned over the ball on halfway, and Joe Shaw touched down. However, they led by just a point as former Wallaby Matt Burke could not add the two points.
Bath otherwise led from the kick-off. In the second minute, they were awarded a penalty for an infringement at the ruck but from the far right of the field, just outside the 22-metre area, Olly Barkley could not convert his first attempt at goal. But he had another chance from near halfway five minutes later, and this time struck the ball well to give Bath the lead.
For the middle period of the first half, Bath were pinned into their own 22, but although Newcastle got within inches of the tryline, Bath’s defensive work was solid, notably that of Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolou, who ripped the ball from one Falcon, and also Joe Maddock, whose tackle on James Hoyle caused the centre to knock on. However, the visitors retained possession and eventually Tom May chipped over a drop goal to ensure that they came away with some reward for their pressure.
Shortly after the kick-off, though, the Falcons were penalised and Barkley reasserted Bath’s three-point lead. Minutes later, as the sun broke through the clouds, that lead became ten. Maddock hacked the ball on after a knock-on by Hoyle, forcing Newcastle to clear to touch. From the Bath lineout, Berne cut a line through the Falcons defence and fed Barkley, who brushed off the tackles to score under the posts. The centre easily added the two points.
Just before half-time, the Falcons captain Burke cut the deficit when Bath strayed offside, and the full-back was the first to put any points on the board in the second half, when he kicked another penalty in the 56th minute to reduce the arrears still further.
But although Shaw’s try took Newcastle ahead, Bath’s efforts, particularly in the forwards, continued and were rewarded.
Mark Bakewell, the Forwards Coach, was full of praise for his pack: “I have a lot of pride in their performance, especially when you consider the number of internationals unavailable. Laurence Ovens has never played tighthead until this year and Dave Ward was under a lot of pressure – we were all under pressure to perform. It’s never one-way traffic in the Premiership but we played tough.”
7: Penalty Barkley, 3-0
24: Drop goal May, 3-3
27: Pen Barkley, 6-3
31: Try Barkley, Conversion Barkley, 13-3
40+6: Pen Burke, 13-6
56: Pen Burke, 13-9
64: Try Shaw, 13-14
71: Try Ward, Con Barkley, 20-14
BATH: 15. M Perry (Abendanon, 54) 14. J Maddock (Stephenson, 56) 13. O Barkley 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. C Walker 10 S Berne (Stephenson, 32-26) 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. D Ward 3. L Ovens 4. P Short (Louw, 71) 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook (Faamatuainu, 60) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. C Brooker 17. D Parkes 18. H Louw 19. J Faamatuianu 20. P Travagli 21. M Stephenson 22. N Abendanon
NEWCASTLE: 15. M Burke (captain) 14. T May 13. J Hoyle 12. M Mayerhofler (Shaw, 25)11. J Rudd 10. L Crichton 9. L Dickson (Grindal, 67) 1. J McDonnell 2. A Long (Thompson, 54) 3. D Wilson (Morris, 41) 4. A Perry 5. J Oakes 6. G Parling (Wilson, 40+2) 7. B Woods (sin-bin: 39-46) 8. M McCarthy (Winter, 60)
Replacements: 16. R Morris 17. M Thompson 8. B Wilson 19. R Winter 20. J Shaw 21. J Grindal 22. T Dillon
Referee: S Davey
RESULT BATH 20 NEWCASTLE14
2nd DECEMBER 2006 GLOUCESTER v BATH
The Ospreys’ comprehensive victory over Bristol meant that Gloucester were unable to qualify for the semi-finals of the EDF Energy Cup, despite a 30-12 win over an unfamiliar-looking Bath side at Kingsholm.
As Steve Meehan had said earlier in the week, for Bath, it was a useful opportunity for individual players to get some game time and make a case for selection, and after the match, the Acting Head Coach said he was pleased with the performance.
“I quite enjoyed that. The guys really put in, and some of our young guys had a very good match. Gloucester had a good side out there tonight. Chev Walker looked pretty comfortable at outside centre and Dave Ward is an industrious player and was very busy.”
Although Bath made a lively start, the concession of a penalty allowed Gloucester to kick for a lineout in the Bath 22. The young pack just withstood the driving maul that followed but two more penalties gave the home side another chance. With a third, they opted for the scrum, and when the front row stood up, the referee awarded a penalty try, which Willie Walker converted.
Bath rallied from this early set back, and put together a number of phases that edged them closer to the Gloucester line. Unfortunately, a penalty at the breakdown allowed Gloucester to clear their lines. And it was Gloucester who scored next, through Adam Balding, after patient build-up work allowed the No 8 to muscle over.
As the half hour approached, Bath found themselves within spitting distance of the Gloucester line again, and they attacked from a five-metre scrum, but the move broke down when the ball was knocked on and played in an offside position in midfield, and Gloucester cleared the danger.
However, a lovely break by Tom Cheeseman, followed up by Michael Stephenson, took play back into the home team’s 22. Malone, the match captain, had been opting to kick penalties to touch, and after two in succession, debutant Dan Parkes stretched over after a lineout to score.
Gloucester signed off the half with a successful penalty kick taken from in front of the posts by fly-half Walker, when Bath strayed offside. Walker had the opportunity to open the second-half tally, with a penalty kick for coming in on the wrong side, but surprisingly he missed. Minutes later, superb work by Dave Ward snaffled Gloucester ball as the Kingsholm crowd egged them towards the tryline, and Jonny Faamatuianu showed excellent pace and handling to take play over halfway. Unfortunately, David Bory could not hold on to the Samoan’s pass.
A try for each side after ten minutes of the half set the game alight, First James Merriman finished off a move that had begun in his own territory, the ball having given Jack Adams and Karl Pryce space to get behinds the Bath defence. But they rued kicking the ball to Ian Davey, for the wing, back from injury, fielded it with ease, ran into midfield and passed to Stephenson in support. The full-back passed onto Faamatuainu, and with the defence in disarray, Cheeseman strolled over for a try, which Malone converted.
The game was breaking up rather, but Walker calmly struck a penalty for Gloucester when Ward was penalised at a ruck, and indeed sin-binned for his efforts. Gloucester did not take long to capitalise further on their man advantage, for Walker soon dived over for a try, to give his side a bonus point.
8: Penalty try Gloucester, Conversion Walker, 7-0
18: Try Balding, Con Walker, 14-0
37: Try Parkes, 14-5
40+5: Penalty Walker, 17-5
51: Try Merriman, 22-5
55: Try Cheeseman, Con Malone, 22-12
67: Pen Walker, 25-12
71: Try Walker, 30-12
BATH: 15. M Stephenson 14. I Davey (Cuthbert, 73) 13. C Walker 12. T Cheeseman 11. D Bory 10. C Malone (captain) 9. PTravagli (Williams, 56) 1. D Parkes (Barnes, 53) 2. D Ward (sin-bin: 66-78) 3. L Ovens 4. D Smith (Miller, 33) 5. R Fidler 6. H Louw 7. J Faamatuainu (Brooker, 69) 8. C Goodman (Bentall, 79)
Replacements: 16. C Brooker 17. D Barnes 18. J Bentall 19. J Miller 20. A Williams 21. J Cuthbert 22. M Mangeolles
GLOUCESTER: 15. O Morgan 14. K Pryce 13. J Adams (Simpson-Daniel, 56)12. M Tindall (captain) 11. M Foster 10. W Walker 9. H Thomas (Lawson, 61)1. P Collazo (Forster, 23-29) 2. R Elloway (McMillan, 78) 3. C Nieto 4. W James 5. J Pendlebury (Eustace, 62) 6. J Boer (Brown, 72) 7. J Merriman 8. A Balding
Replacements: 16. R McMillan 17. J Forster 18. A Eustace 19. A Brown 20. R Lawson 21. B Davies 22. J Simpson-Daniel
Referee: D Pearson
RESULT GLOUCESTER 30 BATH 12
9th DECEMBER 2006 HARLEQUINS V BATH
Two Nick Abendanon tries, a Joe Maddock try and three Olly Barkley penalties gave Bath Rugby a welcome 24-18 victory in the European Challenge Cup match against NEC Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
Bath began the match as they would finish it, playing some fierce attacking rugby that was matched by an improving defence. Scrum-half Nick Walshe made the first foray into Harlequins territory making a break from his own half that would see the ball moved through several quick phases only to be ultimately ruined with a dangerous tackle by Joe Maddock on Quins wing David Strettle seeing the New Zealander being awarded a yellow card.
In the 10th minute sustained Quins pressure looked likely to yield a try for the home side, only for Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu to turnover the ball in the tackle and setup up Shaun Berne who then ran virtually the whole length of the pitch before finding winger Nick Abendanon who touched down to open the scoring. Olly Barkley missed the resulting conversion.
A few minutes later David Strettle nearly leveled the scores by outpacing his marker and chipping ahead. However his kick was just too long and the ball went dead just before he could reach it.
Bath then stretched their lead to eight points through a Barkley penalty only for Quins fly-half Adrian Jarvis to score a penalty of his own moments later.
In the 28th minute, Bath won their line-out and played some very attractive attacking rugby, again using the phases to their advantage. The culmination of the move saw Andy Beattie popping a pass to the man of the moment Nick Abendanon who crashed over the whitewash to score his second try. It was obvious that his stint the previous weekend in a rain lashed Dubai with the England Sevens squad was proving beneficial.
The final minutes of the first-half were all about the home side. Firstly, after being on the receiving end of a high tackle earlier in the game, David Strettle was sin binned for doing exactly the same on a Bath player and then the Harlequins captain Paul Volley also received a yellow card. Secondly Adrian Jarvis reduced the point’s gap with two penalties.
With another Olly Barkley penalty being landed just before the break, the away side went into half-time 16-9 to the good.
In the opening exchanges of the second-half, Nick Abendanon nearly completed a hatrick of tries only for him to knock-on after receiving the ball from Maddock in front of the try-line.
Over a ten minute period, Harlequins clawed their way back into the game as Bath gave away three successive penalties and Jarvis gladly hit all three between the uprights to give Quins an 18-16 lead. However the lead was short lived with Barkley scoring a penalty of his own in the 57th minute.
With time pressing on, Harlequins brought on Andrew Mehrtens in the hope of using the former All Black’s kicking game to give them an advantage. The substitution nearly paid off with Quins setting up a drop-goal opportunity only for Mehrtens not being able to gather the pass sent to him.
With the game going to the death, some superb Bath defence kept Harlequins at bay in their own half. Then, much to the relief of a tense Bath side, Maddock sealed the win with a well taken try in the far right hand corner to give Bath a 24-18 victory.
10 – Try Abendanon, 0-5
19 – Pen Barkley, 0-8
23 – Pen Jarvis, 3-8
28 – Try Abendanon, 3-13
38 – Pen Jarvis, 6-13
40 – Pen Jarvis, 9-13
40+2 – Pen Barkley, 9-16
47 – Pen Jarivs, 12-16
52 – Pen Jarvis, 15-16
55 – Pen Jarvis, 18-16
57 – Pen Barkley 18-19
80+2 – Try Maddock 24-18
BATH: 15. M Perry (Cheeseman, 5) 14. J Maddock (sin-bin: 4) 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. N Abendanon 10. S Berne (Malone, 76) 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears 3. L Ovens 4. P Short (Fidler, 76) 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook (Faamatuainu, 47) 8. Z Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. A Jarvis 18. R Fidler 19. J Faamatuainu 20. P Travagli 21. C Malone 22. T Cheeseman
HARLEQUINS: 15. T Williams 14. D Strettle (sin-bin: 34) 13. H Luscombe, 12. S Abbott 11. U Monye (Duffy, 80) 10. A Jarvis (Mehrtens, 70) 9. D Care (So’oialo, 58) 1. C Jones 2. T Fuga 3. L Ward (Nebbett 63) 4. J Evans 5. N Spanghero (Kohn, 63) 6. T Guest (Skinner, 63) 7. P Volley (sin-bin: 40) 8. N Easter
Replacements: 16. J Richards 17. R Nebbett 18. O Kohn 19. W Skinner 20 S So’oialo 21 A Mehrtens 22 G Duffy
Referee: E Darriere
RESULT HARLEQUINS 24 BATH 18
16th DECEMBER 2006 BATH V HARLEQUINS
Bath sit at the top of Pool Four of the European Challenge Cup after recording their second victory over NEC Harlequins in successive weeks, 20-14.
Determined defence was just as important as the attack, but Bath sought to play rugby and the surface of the Recreation Ground held up well after all the recent rain. A positive start was fully rewarded, for within two minutes, Nick Abendanon had made up for missing out on his hat-trick against Harlequins last weekend by scoring in front of the Hamptons Stand, after first Andy Beattie and then Nick Walshe had made telling breaks down the blindside.
But the visitors had the better of play for the succeeding minutes. First, Quins wing David Strettle asked questions of the Bath defence when he chipped the ball over their heads and only just failed to gather, with the line open ahead of him. Bath were relieved again when Mike Brown’s pass to Tom Williams in space was deemed forward, and Bath were awarded a penalty as Andy Gomersall disputed the referee’s decision. But eventually Quins were offered a penalty in front of the posts, which Adrian Jarvis took.
In the middle period of the half, Bath could not lay their hands on the ball for any length of time, and the sin-binning of Peter Short for use of the boot in the ruck was of no assistance. Quins threatened to breach the line again when Gomersall sold a dummy in the 22, but the ball went forward after he went to ground.
In fact, against the run of play, Barkley gave Bath the next points, with a penalty after Quins wing Williams failed to release in the tackle having fielded a box kick by Walshe.
The half ended as it began, with a try for the hosts in the left-hand side of the pitch. Patient work at close quarters had taken play into range, and when Bath won a penalty just metres out, Walshe took it quickly and passed to Shaun Berne, who dived over.
After the break, the first scoring opportunity was Barkley’s again, thanks to a break down the right-hand touchline by Lee Mears, which eventually forced Quins offside, but the kick veered to the left of the posts.
The Harlequins fly-half Jarvis made no mistake with the next opportunity afforded him, two successive penalties taking him within striking range of the posts. The score proved the visitors were not out of it, and they should have scored a try, but Hal Luscombe knocked on with the line at his mercy.
The second period was at its midway point when Bath opted to kick a penalty to the touchline five metres out, but they failed to protect the ball after the initial drive and Quins cleared the danger. This heralded further dominance of position by Harlequins, but the defence held firm and when Mears broke upfield it seemed the pressure had been relieved.
The referee quickly penalised the hooker for holding on, but Jarvis’s kick fell short, and Bath’s adventurous running of the ball was rewarded with a penalty, which was booted into touch to take play back into the Quins half. Shortly after, a second penalty within kickable distance allowed Barkley to increase Bath’s lead.
Although Bath’s defence had been solid throughout the game, it gave way at last when Andrew Mehrtens, the replacement fly-half, looped round to set up Williams. Mehrtens missed the conversion, but Bath could not afford to relax, as there was still more injury time and when Quins got a penalty in front of the posts, though forty metres out, the former All Black kicked it over to gain the visitors a losing bonus point. An agonising nine minutes of added time had elapsed before the final whistle went.
Steve Meehan said afterwards: “The team performed well and I was pleased with our attack. We now have a couple of hard games in the Premiership to come, so a win will help us to go into those in a positive frame of mind.”
2: Try Abendanon, Conversion Barkley, 7-0
16: Penalty Jarvis, 7-3
31: Pen Barkley, 10-3
40+1: Try Berne, Con Barkley, 17-3
49: Pen Jarvis, 17-6
76: Pen Barkley, 20-6
80+2: Try Williams, 20-11
80+6: Pen Mehrtens, 20-14
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. J Maddock 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. T Cheeseman (Stephenson, 79) 10. S Berne (Malone, 79) 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears 3. L Ovens (Jarvis, 50; Ward, 60) 4. P Short (sin-bin: 22-33) 5. D Grewcock (Fidler, 77) 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook (Faamatuainu, 54) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. A Jarvis 18. R Fidler 19. J Faamatuianu 20. P Travagli
21. M Stephenson 22. C Malone
NEC HARLEQUINS: 15. M Brown 14. D Strettle 13. H Luscombe 12. S Abbott (Deane, 80+4) 11. T Williams 10. A Jarvis (Mehrtens, 73) 9. A Gomersall (So’oailo, 73) 1. C Jones 2. T Fuga (Richards, 80+2) 3. M Ross (Robson, 60) 4. O Kohn 5. S Miall 6. A Vos 7. P Volley (captain) 8. N Easter (Guest, 41)
Replacements: 16. J Richards 17. R Nebbett 18. G Robson 19. T Guest 20. S So’oailo 21. A Mehrtens 22. M Deane
Referee: Andrew MacPherson
27th DECEMBER 2006 BRISTOL V BATH
A record crowd for the Guinness Premiership witnessed the latest chapter in the history of Bath-Bristol derbies, but as with the last two this season, it finished in favour of Bristol, who finished 16-6 winners.
Steve Meehan pinpointed the Bath set-piece as the main reason for the loss: “I thought we let ourselves down,” the Head Coach said after the match. “Our set-piece didn’t function as well as it did against Sale, our discipline cost us at times and we turned over ball far too easily.”
Bath had not been fazed either by the firework nor the roar or 21,000 fans that greeted the home team’s entrance onto the pitch. They took the game to Bristol, making headway well into the Bristol half with a cut-out pass to David Bory from Shaun Berne, and again with Peter Short down the left wing.
A deft kick by Berne to touch put Bristol on the back foot again, and though this time they won their lineout, Shaun Perry’s clearance found Michael Stephenson, who cut straight through the defence, making ten metres.
Again, Bristol cleared thanks to a penalty, but Bath stole the lineout, and Bory and Stephenson again put the defence to work before the ball was lost forward. The pressure eventually yielded a penalty in Bath’s favour, which Olly Barkley elected to kick for goal, and he coolly kicked it over from 35 metres.
Minutes later, a kick by Berne from his 22 was charged down by centre Josh Taumalolo and had the in-goal area been larger, he might have scored a try.
However, the Bristol pack was giving Bath a torrid time in the scrum, and from such a set-piece, David Hill cut through the tackles, the ball went left and up to the tryline through Lee Robinson and David Lemi, but the video referee ruled that the wing had knocked the ball forward. Bristol kept up the pressure, forcing Bath to push a garryowen by Perry over the dead-ball line, and after two more penalties, the Bristol captain stretched over to score from a catch-and-drive.
Bath still looked to attack, and when Bristol were penalised at a scrum in their half, Barkley took Bath ahead again. But when Dan Ward-Smith picked up from a Bristol scrum in the Bath half, he ran through a gaping hole deep into the 22. As he tracked back in defence, Peter Short got in the way of the ball. He was shown the yellow card and Hill kicked the penalty, giving the home team the half-time lead.
Seven minutes into the second half, the fly-half could have stretched Bristol’s lead when Joe El Abd stole Bath lineout ball, and Bath were penalised at the ruck, but he missed the attempt at goal. Bristol’s confidence was not diminished, and having continued to press Bath’s defence, they forced another penalty which Hill converted.
Bath won possession from the restart, and this time Bristol indiscipline allowed Barkley to kick for goal, but the attempt went awry. Play came to a brief halt when Nick Walshe was flattened by a late, high tackle by Mark Regan, for which the former Bath hooker was sin-binned. Given the penalty, Bath took the kick to touch and lineout option, but after a ruck that followed, Regan was soon joined by his opposite number Lee Mears, sent off for ten minutes for stamping, and the territorial advantage was lost.
The television match official was called upon for the second time in the match when Bristol turned over ball at a Bath scrum, Hill put a cross-field kick for Robinson, and the wing claimed the ball. This time, the try counted.
With both teams back to their full complement, Barkley and Hill each had a chance to kick three more points for their side, but neither was successful and the match petered out to the final whistle.
14: Penalty Barkley, 0-3
31: Try Llewellyn, 5-3
36: Pen Barkley, 5-6
40+3: Pen Hill, 8-6
53: Pen Hill, 11-6
71: Try Robinson, 16-6
BATH: 15. M Stephenson 14. J Maddock 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. D Bory (Walker, 68) 10. S Berne 9. N Walshe (Williams, 73) 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears (sin-bin 60-76) 3. L Ovens 4. P Short (sin-bin: 40+2-43; Fidler, 74) 5. D Grewcock (Louw, 74) 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook (Dixon, 62; Faamatuainu, 77) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. P Dixon 17. T Sigley 18. R Fidler 19. J Faamatuainu 20. H Louw 21. A Williams 22. C Walker
BRISTOL: 15. C Morgan 14. L Robinson 13. S Cox 12. J Taumalolo (Lima, 68) 11. D Lemi 10. D Hill 9. S Perry (O’Riordan, 49) 1. A Clarke 2. M Regan (sin-bin: 58-74) 3. D Crompton 4. R Winters 5. G Llewellyn (captain) 6. A To’oala (Budgett, 79) 7. J El Abd (Nelson, 62; Salter, 74) 8. D Ward-Smith
Replacements: 16. S Nelson 17. D Hilton 18. N Budgett 19. M Salter 20. B O’Riordan 21. J Strange 22. B Lima
Referee: S Davey
RESULT BATH 6 BRISTOL 16
1st JANUARY 2007 BATH V WASPS
Bath welcomed in the New Year with three tries and victory over London Wasps by 30-19, in filthy conditions at the Recreation Ground.
The soggy turf made it difficult for either side to assert themselves, and having taken the lead early in the first half with a try by Joe Maddock, Bath threatened to lose their grip in the second. But they recovered from 16-13 down to finish off a win that Steve Meehan admitted was all the more satisfying given the result suffered away to Wasps at Adams Park earlier in the season.
Within one minute of kick-off, Bath were awarded a penalty when Tom Cheeseman was taken out in the air by Paul Sackey as he claimed a kick from Wasps fly-half Simon Amor. Chris Malone ambitiously went for goal from his own half, but the attempt fell just short. Three minutes later the same problem befell Dave Walder of Wasps as he went for goal when Rob Fidler was penalised for not rolling away.
But when Josh Lewsey was forced to clear to touch after a chip by Cheeseman, the lineout gave Bath good field position. Wasps strayed offside as Bath’s forwards made ground, and Malone successfully kicked the penalty. Bath were enjoying the best of possession, testing the Wasps discipline in defence, and another chance soon followed in front of the posts. The Australian fly-half went for goal, and extended the lead.
Moments later, the crowd came to life as Maddock went over in the right-hand corner, the wing set up by Cheeseman’s work at close quarters before offloading to James Scaysbrook, who passed neatly out of the tackle to Olly Barkley, and he to Maddock. Malone struck the conversion from the touchline.
Walder narrowed the deficit midway through the half, when Wasps attacked in the Bath 22 area, and the defender failed to roll away in the tackle. As Wasps inched into Bath’s half again, Maddock made the most of advantage when they knocked on, skating well into the visitors’ territory, and Wasps soon encroached once more, but Malone’s kick at goal struck the right-hand upright.
Instead, in ever wetter conditions, Walder kicked the next points, and not just once, for Bath twice conceded penalties for going offside, and Bath’s lead had been cut to four points by half-time.
The second half began slowly, but Wasps suddenly put Bath on the back foot after Dominic Waldouck broke through a couple of tackles. They took a five-metre scrum when Bath were penalised and as the scrum disintegrated with the pressure of the drive, the referee awarded a penalty try, which Walder converted easily.
Malone equalised with a penalty, but both sides were struggling to do much with the slippery ball in the mud, until James Scaysbrook burst through the Wasps defence, making twenty metres before he was hauled down. Bath recycled the ball through several phases, and then the back-row player repeated his surging run, and eventually the ball was swung right and Maddock jigged over for his second try.
The conversion by Malone was very well taken, but Wasps struck back immediately after the restart when Walder hit another penalty through the posts. The score was still agonisingly close, but from nowhere, Nick Walshe made a break down the left touchline and fed replacement fly-half Shaun Berne, who skidded over. Barkley’s conversion from the touchline was greeted with more cheers, and the clock wound down with Bath the victors.
Meehan, the Head Coach, was delighted with the spirit his side showed: “It was very satisfying after the disappointment of our first match against Wasps earlier in the year. There was something about Wasps coming here that raised the spirits and the ambition of the players, and I think they reacted well to a quality side.”
9: Penalty Malone, 3-0
14: Pen Malone, 6-0
17: Try Maddock, Conversion Malone, 13-0
25: Pen Walder, 13-3
38: Pen Walder, 13-6
40+3: Pen Walder, 13-9
49: Penalty Try, Con Walder, 13-16
54: Pen Malone, 16-16
71: Try Maddock, Con Malone, 23-16
74: Pen Walder, 23-19
80+5: Try Berne, Con Barkley, 30-19
BATH: 15. O Barkley 14. J Maddock 13. C Walker 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. T Cheeseman (Walshe, 36) 10. C Malone (Berne, 75) 9. A Williams 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears (Dixon, 80) 3. T Sigley (Ovens, 61) 4. R Fidler (Beattie, 54) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short 7. J Scaysbrook (Delve, 77) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. P Dixon 17. L Ovens 18. H Louw 19. A Beattie 20. G Delve 21. N Walshe 22. S Berne
WASPS: 15. J Lewsey 14. P Sackey 13. R Hoadley 12. D Waldouck 11. T Voyce (Cipriani, 73) 10. D Walder 9. S Amor (Reddan, 61) 1. T Payne 2. J Ward 3. P Bracken (Evans, 74) 4. M Purdy 5. T Palmer 6. J Worsley (Hart, 64) 7. J O’Connor (Haskell, 9-22; 79) 8. L Dallaglio (captain; Leo, 64)
Replacements: 16. R Webber 17. N Adams 18. J Hart 19. J Haskell 20. E Reddan 21. D Cipriani 22. D Leo
Referee: R Maybank
BATH 30 WASPS 19
6th JANUARY 2007 HARLEQUINS V BATH
Another rainy day, but in a low-scoring contest at the Twickenham Stoop, Bath Rugby could not repeat their win in the wet of New Year’s Day, nor their previous two victories over NEC Harlequins this season, as the match finished 9-3 to the hosts.
The rain had been falling for much of the morning, and just as the match kicked off, it began to do so even more heavily, making conditions awkward for both sides, who had to contend with the slippery ball, soggy turf and bright floodlights. But Harlequins drew first blood when Bath were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle, and Adrian Jarvis slotted a fairly straightforward penalty from in front of the posts.
The combination of a heavy ball and an adverse penalty count meant Bath played little of the first forty minutes in the Quins half. It was not a day conducive to attractive rugby, but about midway through the half, a sweetly timed pass to Jordan Turner-Hall put the centre over the gain-line, and when David Strettle took the ball further, Bath’s defence had to be on its guard. But James Scaysbrook pounced when the ball came out of the ruck, to avert the immediate danger.
And as both sides struggled to control the ball, a chip towards Bath’s line, with Jordan-Hall and Danny Care in pursuit, nearly led to a try, but the ball went forward as it was touched down, and play taken back for a Harlequins scrum for an earlier knock-on.
Still the home side dominated possession and territory, but it was half an hour after the first score before they won another kickable penalty. Jarvis’s attempt fell below the crossbar, but the fly-half made up for it a few minutes later with another shot after Bath were penalised at the scrum for breaking their binding.
The half closed with Bath defending their line again in the face of pick-and-drive tactics, but the move eventually fell down without yielding anything. In the circumstances, six points could be considered a reasonable lead.
Two minutes after the resumption, Olly Barkley had his first attempt at goal, a penalty for an infringement at the ruck, but the ball fell left of the uprights. After Jarvis too had missed another kick at goal, Barkley got his second opportunity when Gareth Delve, who had just replaced Scaysbrook, was impeded in the lineout, and this time he made no mistake.
The home side continued with the territorial advantage, and having missed another attempt at goal, Jarvis booted the next penalty to touch. When the maul collapsed after the resulting lineout, David Barnes was shown a yellow card. With the next two penalties, Quins opted for the scrum, but to Bath’s credit, the second was won against the head. Play remained in the Bath half, and eventually Jarvis went for goal again, this time successfully.
Now Bath’s forwards strung together a number of phases that took them within range of the tryline, but though Nick Walshe crossed it, he was denied the try for accidental offside. Apart from this, Harlequins retained the lion’s share of possession until, with three minutes left on the countdown clock, Joe Maddock took play into their half after a scrum. Bath forced a penalty and the ball was kicked to touch but Quins stole the lineout ball and cleared the danger.
Bath were in possession when the final whistle went, but were left on the wrong end of the score, and Steve Meehan, the Head Coach, said the whole team was disappointed: “We had some opportunities in the second half and should have nailed the game,” he said. “We got away with a competition point but we have lost three and the guys are aware of that.”
He was, though, pleased with the return of captain Steve Borthwick: “He said afterwards that he feels physically quite good and I thought he had a pretty good performance first time out in four months. He will only get better.”
4: Penalty Jarvis, 3-0
37: Pen Jarvis, 6-0
56: Pen Barkley, 6-3
68: Pen Jarvis, 9-3
BATH: 15. O Barkley 14. J Maddock 13. C Walker 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. M Stephenson 10. S Berne (Malone, 68) 9. A Williams (Walshe, 52) 1. D Barnes (sin-bin: 63-77) 2. P Dixon (Hawkins, 59) 3. T Sigley (Feaunati, 77) 4. S Borthwick (captain) 5. H Louw (Short, 50) 6. A Beattie (Fidler, 77) 7. J Scaysbrook (Delve, 52) 8. I Feaunati (Jarvis, 64)
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. A Jarvis 18. R Fidler 19. P Short 20. G Delve 21. N Walshe 22. C Malone
NEC HARLEQUINS: 15. M Brown 14. D Strettle (Monye, 41) 13. S Abbott 12. J Turner-Hall 11. S Keogh 10. A Jarvis 9. D Care 1. A Croall 2. T Fuga 3. M Ross 4. O Kohn 5. N Spanghero 6. A Vos 7. P Volley (captain) 8. N Easter
Replacements: 16. J Richards 17. R Nebbett 18. S Miall 19. C Hala’Ufia 20. W Skinner 21. H Luscombe 22. U Monye
Referee: D Pearson
Attendance: 10, 920
HARLEQUINS 9 BATH 3
12th JANUARY 2007 CONNACHT V BATH
Connacht Rugby 24 v 36 Bath Rugby
17th FEBRUARY 2007 LDN IRISH V BATH
Bath paid the price for being slower to get out of the blocks than London Irish as they resumed their Guinness Premiership campaign at the Madejski Stadium, conceding 15 first-half points before scoring a 76th-minute try to make the final score 15-7.
Steve Meehan blamed the result on a lack of aggression in the opening period. “The first half is where the damage was done,” the Head Coach said. “It wasn’t as if we didn’t have some opportunities but we couldn’t convert any of them – we pushed some passes. But we were sitting back on our heels, not being aggressive, not being as positive as we could have been.”
London Irish had taken an early lead in a score initially set up by young fly-half Shane Geraghty. His kick across field forced Nick Abendanon back into his 22, and he, with Sailosi Tagicakibau bearing down on him, offloaded to Joe Maddock, who cleared to touch. But Bob Casey took the lineout at the tail and the Irish, who had first stretched Bath’s defence down the right wing, when Geraghty nearly released Delon Armitage, made the most of an overlap on the left, and Tagicakibau crossed to score.
Putting Bath under pressure again soon after, Nick Kennedy hacked on a loose ball and Bath were forced to touch it down over the line. Given a penalty after the scrum, Irish kicked to touch, but Bath were penalised again when the maul from the lineout collapsed. Another ensued, and this time Irish went through the backs, Geraghty again getting over the gainline before the other wing, Topsy Ojo, got through to score. This time, the fly-half added the conversion.
Soon after the restart Bath, having entered the home side’s half for only the second time in the match, won a penalty. As it was just a metre over halfway, Olly Barkley opted to kick for touch, and when Zak Feaunati won the lineout, the forwards drove superbly to take Bath up to – but not quite over – the line. They won another penalty but the second attack was repelled and London Irish cleared the danger.
They soon extended their lead, having turned Bath over in their own half and used their quick backline to counter attack. Tagicakibau was well tackled but Abendanon was penalised at the ruck and sent to the sin-bin. Irish opted to kick for touch, but when Bath were penalised in front of their posts, Geraghty took the three points on offer.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, Bath nearly cut the deficit when Maddock on the right wing cut back inside, but his offload to Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was deemed forward by the touch judge. From the scrum, Irish attacked down the blindside, this time through scrum-half Paul Hodson, but the retreating Bath defenders intercepted the pass to Tagicakibau and the ball bobbled into touch. Swinging the ball quickly to the right from the lineout, they nearly scored again, but Ojo fumbled the would-be scoring pass from Armitage.
Into injury time, Barkley took his first attempt at goal when Irish were penalised at the scrum, but his kick just shaved the left-hand post, and Bath remained scoreless at half-time.
As in the first period, Bath spent much of the early part of the second in their own half, but after fifteen minutes, a penetrating run by Abendanon and some slick passing in the backs showed signs of their offensive capabilities. And it was the full-back again who reignited Bath hopes with a searing break that took him over the Irish 22, after a scrum back in his own half.
The home side was stretched, and though Bath could not breach their line, a fight had broken out on the right-hand side of the field, and Irish were deeded the offenders. Barkley kicked for touch, the lineout was secured, and Danny Grewcock emerged from the bottom of the pile as after the forwards rumbled over the whitewash. Barkley struck an excellent conversion, and as there had been a number of stoppages during the game, over ten minutes remained.
The closing minutes made for exciting viewing, now that Bath too were playing with some sparkle and ambition, but their revival had come too late.
On a positive note, Meehan said: “We were very good in the set-piece – we won our ball. But we didn’t give ourselves a chance strategically.”
9: Try Tagicakibau, 5-0
16: Try Ojo, Conversion Geraghty, 12-0
29: Penalty Geraghty, 15-0
76: Try Grewcock, Con Barkley, 15-7
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (sin-bin: 26-37)14. M Stephenson 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. S Berne 11. J Maddock 10. O Barkley 9. N Walshe (Williams, 48) 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears 3. M Stevens 4. S Borthwick (captain) 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie (Short, 61) 7. G Delve (Scaysbrook, 80) 8. I Feaunati
Replacements: 16. P Dixon 17. A Jarvis 18. P Short 19. J Scaysbrook 20. A Williams 21. D Bory 22. C Malone
LONDON IRISH: 15. D Armitage (Horak, 75) 14. T Ojo 13. N Mordt 12. M Catt (captain) 11. S Tagicakibau 10. S Geraghty (Everitt, 80+2) 9. P Hodgson 1. T Lea’aetoa 2. D Coetzee (Russell, 24-32; 55) 3. F Rautenbach (Hatley, 41) 4. N Kennedy 5. B Casey (Hudson, 67) 6. K Roche 7. S Armitage 8. P Murphy (Leguizamon, 63)
Replacements: 16. N Hatley 17. R Russell 18. J Hudson 19. J Leguizamon 20. M Horak 21. B Willis 22. B Everitt
Referee: W Barnes
RESULT LONDON IRISH 15 BATH 7
24th FEBRUARY 2007 BATH V SARACENS
A try in injury time by David Bory, with Olly Barkley’s conversion, gave Bath a draw against Saracens at the Rec on Saturday, ensuring they extended their unbeaten home run to seven matches.
But the team had let slip a 13-nil lead, and Steve Meehan, the Head Coach, viewed the result as two points lost, rather than two gained. “We should have won that game well and truly,” he said afterwards. “I am bitterly disappointed – and so is the team.”
The rain had held off for most of the morning, but began to fall again just as the teams emerged from the changing room, as if on cue. Just five minutes had passed before Barkley gave Bath the lead, with a penalty goal in front of the posts at the Hamptons Stand end, taken 15 yards out, when the front rows went down at the scrum.
Bath continued to dominate territory, and though pushed into touch on the left wing as they attacked, Saracens infringed at the lineout and Barkley punished them again with another well-struck penalty.
A penalty the other way allowed Saracens to make inroads into Bath’s half, as they kicked to touch, but Matt Cairns’s throw-in to the lineout was not straight, and Bath regained possession. The visiting forwards did their best to keep Bath penned back, but fell offside and Bath cleared to touch. Excellent work by Matt Stevens and the forwards helped Bath to build a good series of attacking phases, and Bory came close to scoring on the left wing. But the good work was undone by crossing, and Saracens relieved the pressure.
The soggy turf inevitably influenced the nature of the game. A chip by Joe Maddock which looked at if it might bobble over Saracens’ line actually stopped in the mud inches short, forcing the visitors to clear to touch. From the lineout, the forwards put on an exemplary display of the pick-and-drive technique, and though the defence at close quarters held up well, eventually Bath’s patience paid off, as the ball was released to Chris Malone and the fly-half jigged through to score. Malone kindly ran round under the posts to make the conversion easy for Barkley.
But Saracens soon struck back with their first points when Karemi Ratavou was released in space down the left wing. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu’s excellent tackle prevented the wing from reaching the line, but Bath were penalised at the resulting ruck. Saracens took the penalty quickly, sucking in the forwards before releasing the ball to the backs, and Tomas de Vedia, cutting a useful angle, scored.
Half time was due, but first Saracens had time for another try. After a simple attack down the right-hand side of the field, Jackson’s well-timed offload put veteran flanker Richard Hill in and, with Jackson’s successful conversion, the visitors led by a point at half-time.
After the break, Bath attacked vigorously but tough tackling by Saracens kept them out, and they then extended their lead when Jackson slotted a penalty given by the referee for failing to roll away in the tackle.
The luck seemed to be going the visitors’ way, when Kris Chesney fell into possession of the ball at a Bath scrum and steamed towards the Bath line. An excellent tackle by Andy Williams brought him down, and the ball went forward. But Saracens were awarded a penalty, and Bath had to defend stoutly as they opted for the scrum. A superb tackle by Fuimaono-Sapolu helped relieve the pressure, but the home side fell foul of the referee at the ruck again, and Jackson slotted another penalty.
For much of the second half, the initiative remained with Saracens, and though Bath attempted to fight back, nothing seemed to go to hand. But suddenly Bath found themselves in range of the visitors’ line, after Barkley had opened up the defence initially back on halfway. The forwards pressed on to the line, but were just held up. From the five-metre scrum that followed, Bory ran onto the ball at pace and, though tackled, twisted round to score near the posts. Barkley’s conversion tied the scores, and it remained 20-all when the whistle went.
5: Penalty Barkley, 3-0
12: Pen Barkley, 6-0
30: Try Malone, Conversion Barkley, 13-0
37: Try De Vedia, Con Jackson, 13-7
40+1: Try Hill, Con Jackson, 13-14
49: Pen Jackson, 13-17
60: Pen Jackson, 13-20
80+5: Try Bory, Con Barkley, 20-20
BATH: 15. J Maddock 14. C Walker (Berne, 69) 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. A Williams (Walshe, 57) 1. D Barnes 2. P Dixon 3. M Stevens 4. S Borthwick (c) 5. P Short (Louw, 80+2) 6. A Beattie 7. M Lipman (Scaysbrook, 75) 8. I Feaunati (Delve, 57)
Replacements: 16. A Jarvis 17. R Hawkins 18. H Lowe 19. J Scaysbrook 20. N Walshe 21. S Berne 22. M Stephenson
SARACENS: 15. D Scarbrough 14. T de Vedia (Haughton, 69) 13. R Penney 12. K Sorrell 11. K Ratuvou 10. G Jackson 9. N de Kock (Dickens, 80) 1. N Lloyd (Johnston, 64) 2. M Cairns (Byrne, 80) 3. C Visagie 4. I Fullarton (Gustard, 69) 5. S Raiwalui (captain) 6. K Chesney 7. R Hill 8. B Skirving (Ryder, 78)
Replacements: 16. S Byrne 17. C Johnston 18. T Ryder 19. P Gustard 20. A Dickens 21. T Taylor 22. R Haughton
Referee: A Small
RESULTBATH 20 SARACENS 20
7th MARCH 2007 SALE V BATH
After their defeat at the Rec, it is little surprise that Sale Sharks were aiming to wreak revenge for their loss and try and settle the score. With Bath Rugby fielding a different team to the squad that fans would be familiar with, it was an uncharacteristic, yet determined, battle for Bath which left them going home with a loss of 25 – 10.
The game opened with Sale gaining instant possession and after six minutes, had pushed Bath to within metres of their try line. With pressure on the Sharks to score, fly-half Hodgson chose to award the team with three points, over five for a try, planting a drop goal between the posts.
Minutes later, Sale Hooker Scott Lawson made his way through the Bath defence and ran into Bath’s territory, but he failed to ground the ball for a try due to a forward pass and a scrum ensued instead.
After 12 minutes, Chabal went on the rampage. Having returned fresh from the World Cup to play his first game for Sale this season he attempted a half-break that was rapidly followed by a further Hodgson penalty and then, again, at 15 minutes, giving the Sharks a 9-point lead.
Bath took the chance to put some points of their own onto the scoreboard five minutes later when Sale were caught offside following some quick passing between Crockett, Stephenson and Nick Walshe, who started in place of Michael Claassens.
Shaun Berne, back starting at fly-half, intercepted a pass by Sharks and ran it into their 22. With the pressure mounting on Sale to defend and Bath to score, Berne booted the ball for a drop goal, but unfortunately the ball tipped just wide of the posts.
Club captain, Steve Borthwick, enforcing his presence on the pitch, passed out to Martin Purdy who then found Flatman and moving out to the wing for Nick Abendanon to rush the ball to within spitting distance of the scoring line, but with inches to go, Sale managed to clear. The clearance kick was caught by the wing, having come on as a replacement for Ian Davey, and who had run down the pitch and passed to Cheeseman who went for a drop goal. No points were scored.
Just before the half-time whistle the Sharks had managed to rack up a late burst of scores with Hodgson, in finer form than at his visit to the Rec, planted another penalty that was coupled with a try from Chris Bell and a conversion. This last minute advantage turned the tide of the game, as Bath left the pitch 16 points behind.
Bath came back onto the field with a renewed vigour, displaying character and resistance, but were unable to claw back to victory over the hosting team as Hodgson grasped yet another chance to knock up the numbers on the scoreboard with his fourth penalty kick.
Bath responded positively to the 19-point lead, as, out of the blue, prop Lorne Ward, making his first starting debut, launched over the line for his first try since leaving Harlequins last summer.
With Hodgson’s fifth penalty haunting them, Bath needed three scores to rescue the game and when Sales’ Julien Laharaggue made a break midfield with a chip and chase, it was the Guinness Premiership’s Player of the month, Shaun Berne, who made the preventative save, ensuring that when the full-time whistle was finally blown the score was left at 25 -10 to Sale.
10th MARCH 2007 BATH NORTHAMPTON
A try apiece for the forwards and backs in the first half – Danny Grewcock and Nick Abendanon the scorers – set Bath on the road to victory over Northampton Saints at the Rec on Saturday, 22-17.
In front of a sell-out crowd of 10,600, and in the spring sunshine, Bath’s first-half performance not only established a lead, but gave them the confidence – and a points cushion – to withstand a fightback by the Saints late in the second half.
An early attack by Northampton took the Saints within 10 metres of the line, but excellent tackling turned them over, and Nick Walshe booted the ball upfield, leading eventually to a scrum midway in the visitors’ half. However, Bath made a similar error a few minutes later, after Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Abendanon had taken them into the Saints’ 22.
But Northampton conceded a free kick at the scrum, were then penalised for not rolling away, and Olly Barkley struck three points to give Bath the lead.
Having sent a beautiful spiralling kick into the Saints half, which bounced once into touch just shy of the tryline, Barkley kicked his second penalty, for although Saints took the lineout quickly, Bath were alert and the threat of their counter-attack forced the visitors to concede another penalty.
The Saints restarted again, but Bath were soon back in their half, and though two series of attacks led to nothing, the second was halted when the Saints were penalised at the ruck. Number 8 Christian Labit was shown a yellow card and Bath kicked to touch. Grewcock claimed the lineout ball, and moments later, when the ball found its way back to the England lock, he crashed over the tryline on the left-hand side to score.
Between the twenty- and thirty-minute marks, Northampton managed to win more possession than in the first quarter of the game, but Bath’s defence kept them from getting within range. Instead, a mis-pass by Barkley gave David Bory space, and the French winger made thirty metres, offloaded to Michael Lipman, and he in turn to Joe Maddock. Bath were now well into the Saints’ 22, and threatened to score again, but as Bory lunged for the line, the ball fell loose.
Northampton managed to clear when given a penalty, but missed touch, and Abendanon started yet another foray into their half. An attempted drop-goal by Chris Malone went astray, but Maddock’s tackle on Ben Cohen, who claimed the restart, forced a turnover.
When Abendanon scooped up a loose ball just by halfway, little seemed on, but the full-back carved up the Northampton defence, and though Bruce Reihana chased him down, the ball was recycled and this time Abendanon took the ball on and scored. Bath led 16-0 at half-time.
Bath wasted no time in getting out of the blocks after half-time, making headway to the Saints’ 22 in a move that began when Maddock caught Walshe’s box kick above his head. But two penalties – one for holding on, one for pulling a man at the lineout – allowed the Saints to enter Bath’s half and string together their best attack of the match so far. A third penalty ensued, in front of the posts, and Matthieu Bourret took the chance to notch the visitors’ first points.
The restart fell short, allowing Northampton possession and territory again, but this time they conceded two penalties, again, one for holding on and one when Grewcock was pulled down at the lineout. And this time, Bath won a third penalty, within kickable distance, and Barkley slotted three points.
The Saints hit straight back, attacking from the restart, and a quick ball and forwards and backs combined to create a sure score on the left – but the final pass was adjudged forward by the referee.
A long clearance by Malone put play back in their half, and Cohen’s throw-in to himself misfired when Reihana was penalised for holding on. This time, Bath nearly scored, but Abendanon’s pass went beyond Grewcock into touch.
Although a penalty gave Saints the chance to clear, they were turned over in midfield after the lineout, and soon Barkley was lining up another penalty.
Northampton refused to lie down. With two substitutes in the forwards, they used a rolling maul to move steadily towards Bath’s 22. Dylan Hartley broke off to take them on still further, and eventually Bath conceded a penalty. The Saints kicked to touch and then reached the line, but were held up. However, a couple of scrums on the Bath line wore them down, and eventually Mark Robinson reached over to score.
With this, the Saints began to exert a grip on the game, controlling the ball through their forwards, and cutting out the mistakes that had let them down earlier. So it was that they worked their way back again to the Bath line, and set up a nail-biting end to the match when Robbie Kydd cut through Bath’s defence at an angle and scored. Bourret’s conversion shut the gap to five points.
A couple of minutes remained, and though the Saints took the ball at the restart, Bath’s disciplined defence prevented them from making much progress, and Bath remained ahead when the final whistle blew.
Although the Saints had clawed back a losing bonus point, Steve Meehan, the Head Coach, was pleased with a performance that showed the good rugby Bath are capable of playing.
“In the first half, we were really positive,” he said. “We should have scored more points than we did – we should have buried Northampton in the first half.”
Meehan added that Bath remain positive and ambitious towards this season’s Guinness Premiership : “We have got four matches left in the Premiership and still have an opportunity to get in the top half of the table.”
11: Penalty Barkley, 3-0
15: Pen Barkley, 6-0
22: Try Grewcock, 11-0
40: Try Abendanon, 16-0
45: Pen Bourret, 16-3
51: Pen Barkley, 19-3
64: Pen Barkley, 22-3
74: Try Robinson, Con Bourret, 22-10
80+4: Try Kydd, Con Bourret, 22-17
BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. J Maddock 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. N Walshe (Williams, 79)1. D Barnes 2. P Dixon (Hawkins, 75) 3. M Stevens 4. P Short 5. D Grewcock (Louw, 75) 6. A Beattie 7. M Lipman (Scaysbrook, 75) 8. I Feaunati (captain)
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. A Jarvis 18. H Louw 19. J Scaysbrook 20. C Walker 21. S Berne 22. A Williams
NORTHAMPTON: 15. B Reihana (captain) 14. M Bourret 13. S Mallon 12. R Kydd 11. B Cohen 10. C Spencer 9. M Robinson 1. T Smith 2. D Hartley (Cortese, 79) 3. J Brooks (Tonga’Uhia, 65) 4. D Browne (Lord, 65) 5. C Short 6. P Tupai 7. D Fox 8. C Labit (sin-bin: 20-32)
Replacements: 16. M Cortese 17. S Tonga’Uhia 18. M Lord 19. M Hopley 20. J Howard 21. S Myler 22. V Going
Referee: R Maybank
RESULT BATH 22 NORTHAMPTON 17
31st MARCH 2007 BATH V BRISTOL
Within the opening minutes Nick Abendanon, Tom Cheeseman and Jack Cuthbert commenced the game with some impressive passing that would set the precedent for the majority of the match and although Shaun Berne attempted a drop goal, for which he was just wide, he answered the miss by taking a successful penalty kick at the 4th minute.
Enterprising passing between new Bath favourite, Michael Claassens and the skipper, Crockett, gave Bath the opportunity to take the ball towards the opposition’s 22, which was met with a strong kick from Berne.
With a line out quickly won by Bath, and after a pass from Crockett, Nick Abendanon displayed the fiery pace that he has become renowned for, powering down the wing straight into Leinster’s 22, although their efforts were countered by a penalty kick at the 18th minute by Leinster’s fly half, Christian Warner.
Leinster were matching Bath’s efforts and shot the ball into the home 22, but Nick Abendanon was quick to retrieve and send it off the pitch where it thundered into the roof of Kronenburg stand. Gary Brown for Leinster saw to it that it was taken back into the home side’s enclave, and with a chance to move into the lead, Leinster’s fly half took a kick at 24th minute, but with the ball flailing too wide, Warner failed to score.
After half-time, with Leinster leading on 6 – 3, Bath brought on Rob Fidler for Peter Short and Daniel Browne for Zak Feaunati. The Bath Centre, Shaun Berne, was quick to answer the lead, striking the ball over the posts to take Bath back into the comfort zone.
The second half proved a much tighter match than the first, and although Jonathan Sexton sent the ball over the posts in 47th minute, Leinster’s efforts were not enough to keep them in the game for a victory.
Tom Cheeseman saw the opportunity to send the ball towards Leinster’s waiting defenders and with a pass to Nick Abendanon, Leinster were forced to employ two men in a bid to take him down, but he stayed on his feet long enough to give Bath the chance to win a penalty and Shaun Berne once again kicked it over the posts at 51st minute.
Leinster’s Number 11, Rob Kearney, made an explosive run straight down the middle and whilst it looked like it was going to result in a try, a forward pass put paid to that.
Cracking run from Berne and then making its way up to Banahan, afforded Bath the chance to make a further penalty kick by Berne. (15 – 9) at 62nd min. Rob Fidler made excellent headway, then it came across the pitch to Captain Crockett who set up the try for David Barnes who soared over the line in superman style to give Bath an 11-point lead, which soon increased with a successful conversion by Berne.
Electric final minutes of the match saw Matt Banahan explode up the wing to an awaiting Crockett, who slipped the ball to Davis and Walshe, who set up an excellent touch down by Aaron Jarvis in the 79th minute. Berne stamped his mark on the final seconds with a conversion that saw Bath victorious at 29 to 9.
Bath defence Coach Brad Davis said of the game: “What was important as far as lessons from this match go, was the fact that when we held on to the ball and put phases together, we showed we could open Leinster up. A number of the club’s younger players, like Tom Cheeseman, who was outstanding tonight – are really pushing their cases for Premiership rugby now.”
BATH RUGBY: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Alex Crockett (capt), 12 Tom Cheeseman (Ryan Davis 65mins), 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Michael Claassens (Nick Walshe 69mins), 1 David Barnes (Aaron Jarvis 69mins), 2 Pieter Dixon (Rob Hawkins 69mins), 3 Paulica Ion (Laurence Ovens 69mins), 4 Martin Purdy (Peter Short 73mins), 5 Peter Short (Rob Fidler 41mins), 6 Chris Goodman, 7 James Scaysbrook (Jonny Faamatuainu 11mins), 8 Zak Feaunati (Daniel Browne 41mins).
LEINSTER: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Gary Brown, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Michael Berne, 11 Fionn Carr (Fergus McFadden 61mins), 10 Christian Warner (Jonathan Sexton 41mins, Christian Warner 62mins), 9 Chris Whitaker (capt, Cillian Willis 41mins, Chris Keane 61mins)), 1 Stan Wright (Cian Healey 41mins), 2 Bernard Jackman (Brian Blaney 55mins), 3 Juan-Francisco Gomez (Steven Knoop 14mins, Stan Wright 65mins), 4 Trevor Hogan, 5 Devin Toner (Sean O’Brien 50mins), 6 Stephen Keogh (Kevin McLaughlin 65mins), 7 Keith Gleeson, 8 Kevin McLaughlin (Cameron Jowitt 41mins).
4: Penalty Berne, 3 – 0
19: Penalty Warner, 3 -3
30: Penalty Warner, 3 – 6
38: Penalty Berne, 6 -6
43:Penalty Berne, 9 – 6
47: Penalty Sexton, 9 – 9
51:Penalty Berne, 12 – 9
63:Penalty Berne, 15 – 9
68: Try Barnes, Conversion Berne, 22 – 9
79: Try Jarvis, Conversion Berne, 29 – 9
RESULT BATH 51 BRISTOL 12
13th APRIL 2007 SALE V BATH
Bath Rugby came within a minute of recording their first away win in the Guinness Premiership on Friday night against Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park.
But this was Jason Robinson’s last game, and he was not to be denied the full glory of the occasion. With the final play of the game, the full-back and club captain, who had not scored in the league all season, scored a try to clinch victory 25-22, dashing over the line on the left-hand side of the field in characteristic fashion after a scrum on the other flank.
Bath had had a great deal of possession in the opening minutes, and a grubber by Shaun Berne took his team within range. Sale won a penalty at the lineout and with it the chance to clear, but they missed touch and on the counter-attack, Michael Stephenson charged back towards halfway. Nick Abendanon took the ball on further with a superb line, but his pass to the left wing didn’t go to hand.
Another exciting attack followed, when Jonny Faamatuainu turned Sale over at the ruck. Michael Lipman got as far as the 22, and passed to Olly Barkley, who hit the line at pace. Stephenson was with him on the right wing, but had to step back inside and again the tacklers were equal to the task.
But with thirteen minutes gone, and having turned a Sale scrum in their 22, Bath were rewarded with a penalty for hands in the ruck and from the left-hand side, Barkley kicked three points.
Sale struck straight back. Sebastien Chabal fielded Berne’s kick, and though Berne tackled him well, the Frenchman offloaded to Chris Mayor, and he to Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, who scored. Lee Thomas’s conversion extended the Sharks’ lead. Midway through the half, Barkley made an ambitious attempt to close the gap with a penalty kick from over halfway, and though it had the legs, the direction was awry.
If Jason Robinson was the main story, an important sub-plot was taking place in the scrum, and Bath endured several difficult moments five metres from their line, even with the put-in their own. Excellent foraging work by David Barnes forced a turnover from which Bath raided Sale’s half again, but in the 32nd minute, the Sharks were awarded a penalty at the breakdown which Thomas kicked.
Within five minutes, further indiscipline saw the fly-half lining up – and converting – another penalty. But when Sale conceded a free kick at the lineout, and then another for not retreating, Barkley clawed back three points, thanks to direct running by Lipman, which forced a penalty.
Into injury time at the end of the first half, Bath were awarded a scrum after a fumble by Sale. Their error was compounded when they were penalised at the set-piece, and Barkley punished them to close the gap to four points at the break.
When play resumed, as in the first half, Bath enjoyed plenty of the ball in the opening minutes, and made steady progress towards the line. A grubber by Barkley to the in-goal area was meant for Tom Cheeseman, but the wing was pushed off the ball and Bath awarded a penalty. Play, though, was delayed for several minutes, as Lipman needed attention for a neck injury. The flanker was taken off on a stretcher as a precaution.
When play resumed, Berne kicked for touch, after a patient build-up, Nick Walshe scored from close range, and Barkley’s conversion put Bath three points up. Perhaps no-one was more surprised than Barnes himself when the dependable prop ran a good thirty or forty yards to score a try, with two men on his heels, after Sale were turned over and Walshe had made the telling break.
Barkley converted to put Bath ten points up, a lead they maintained when Thomas missed a penalty attempt. Soon after, the Sharks won another which Thomas kicked to touch. The attack was repelled, and though Bath conceded another penalty, Bath stole the lineout and cleared. It was momentary relief, though, and defending again, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu paid the price for the run of penalties by being shown a yellow card.
More penalties kept up the pressure, and despite valiant defending, Bath were worn down at last, when Robinson delivered the scoring pass to Premiership debutant Selorm Kuadey on the right wing. Thomas converted.
The extent and number of stoppages meant there was plenty of time left. Barkley had the chance to give Bath a little more breathing space with a penalty for failing to roll away, but his attempt rebounded off the posts.
Then, the fairy-tale moment for Robinson. It was hard to begrudge it him, but Steve Meehan was naturally very disappointed: “It’s not the first time we’ve seen a fairytale,” the Head Coach said. “That’s life. We didn’t do ourselves any favours out there. In the second half, we had opportunities to put that game to bed, but the number of penalties that came against us was extraordinary.”
15: Penalty Barkley, 0-3
16: Try Fernandez Lobbe, Conversion 7-3
32: Pen Thomas, 10-3
37: Pen Thomas, 13-3
40+1: Pen Barkley, 13-6
40+6: Pen Barkley, 13-9
53: Try Walshe, Con Barkley, 13-16
61: Try Barnes, Con Barkley, 13-23
76: Try Kuadey, Con Thomas, 20-23
80+17: Try Robinson, 25-23
BATH RUGBY: 15. N Abendanon (Fuimaono-Sapolu, 35; sin-bin: 71-80+4) 14. M Stephenson 13. C Walker 12. O Barkley 11. T Cheeseman 10. S Berne 9. N Walshe (Williams, 80+5) 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears (Dixon, 80) 3. M Stevens 4. S Borthwick (captain) 5. D Grewcock (Louw, 80+8) 6. A Beattie 7. M Lipman (Scaysbrook, 44) 8. J Faamatuainu (Short, 58)
Replacements: 16. P Dixon 17. A Jarvis 18. H Louw 19. P Short 20. J Scaysbrook 21. A Williams 22. E Fuimaono-Sapolu
SALE SHARKS: 15. J Robinson (captain) 14. C Mayor (Wigglesworth, 40+1; 63) 13. E Seveali’i 12. C Bell 11. S Kuadey 10. L Thomas 9. B Foden 1. E Roberts (Turner, 32) 2. S Bruno (Titterrell, 80) 3. B Stewart 4. C Jones 5. D Schofield 6. J M Fernandez Lobbe 7. M Lund 8. S Chabal (Day, 80+8)
Replacements: 16. A Titterrell 17. S Turner 18. S Cox 19. C Day 20. R Wigglesworth 21. R Jones 22. M Taylor
Referee: W Barnes
RESULT BATH 25 SALE 23