2012-2013

by BRIAN.JENKINS

2012 2013 MATCH REPORTS

1ST SEPTEMBER 2012 WORCESTER V BATH

18 second-half points from the boot of Olly Barkley secured Bath Rugby’s first win of the season after a second-half resurgence and dramatic last minute penalty saw them to a 23-24 victory over Worcester Warriors at Sixways.

It was a disjointed start to the game for Bath as Andy Goode scored four unanswered penalties inside the first quarter, the fourth coming after Matt Banahan was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as the Warriors mounted their first meaningful attack of the half.

The visitors were seeing very little ball and whilst the defence held firm to stop Worcester crossing the try line, they were unable to mount any significant attack.

Matters were not helped when captain Stuart Hooper, along with Warriors captain Dean Schofield, joined Banahan in the sin-bin following an off the ball scuffle.

Bath’s first points came on the 25 minute mark. Michael Claassens gathered the high ball, and the ball was quickly shipped wide via Francois Louw to Dan Hipkiss. The centre held steady and tried to release Tom Biggs, but for the winger to be tackled into touch by Josh Drauniniu. However, play was taken back for an earlier Worcester offence and Barkley sent the first of his eight penalties through the posts. 12-3.

Barkley and Goode traded another penalty a piece before half-time, and it looked as if the Warriors’s fly-half had scored the first try of the afternoon on the stroke of half-time but for referee Luke Pearce to disallow the score for a forward pass. Half-time score – 15-6.

Whereas in the first half it was Worcester dominating both the score board and the possession the momentum shifted in the second half, with Bath retaining possession, building phase after phase of pressure which enabled Barkley to chip away at Worcester’s lead.

10 minutes into the second half and Bath had forced three more penalties from the home side, Barkley converting them all and tying the scores.

Bath looked to build on their increasing dominance with wave after wave of attack, but were unable to break-through the Worcester defence.

A neat chip from Barkley for Kyle Eastmond to run onto nearly paid off as the winger surged forwards to collect it, and whilst Worcester fullback Chris Pennell initially gathered the ball he couldn’t hold on. There was no chasing support for Bath, and play was brought back for an earlier penalty. Barkley made no mistake in taking the lead for Bath. 15-18, 66 minutes.

The see-saw nature of the game continued however and Worcester hit back from the restart. They inched closer towards the Bath line, the forwards picking and going, stretching the Bath defence until lock James Percival was able to find a gap from close range. Goode saw his conversion come back at him off the post, so there remained just two points between the two sides. 20-18.

And so Barkley and Goode traded further penalties to keep all at Sixways on the edge of their seats.

Goode missed one attempt, which looked to have sealed the win for Bath, only for the home side to be awarded another penalty in an identical position. The fly-half made no mistake at the second time of asking with just two minutes remaining. 23-21.

Bath weren’t giving up though, and from the restart the pushed hard at the Warriors. They made vital yards into home territory, before forcing the penalty. With time dead on the clock, Barkley stepped up and, with nerves of steel, sent the ball clean through the posts to seal the win.

8TH SEPTEMBER 2012 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby recorded their second win of the season with a 30-23 win over London Wasps after an exciting and at times frantic game.

Olly Barkley carried on where he left off against Worcester Warriors last week by kicking six from six goals throughout the game, with tries for the home side coming from Matt Banahan, Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond.

Barkley started with a penalty in the first five minutes giving the hosts an early lead. There were early attacking opportunities for Bath, but they were unable to take advantage, and after 15 minutes Nick Robinson responded with a penalty of his own at the second time of asking, drawing the sides level.

Both sides were looking to play the ball, using the width of the pitch to try and find holes in the opposition defence, and the much talked about backlines on either side were keeping the defences and crowd on their toes.

Patience in attack paid off for the home side as – just under the half hour mark – they were first to cross the try line, Matt Banahan powering over. A well taken lineout from Dominic Day saw the ball spun wide, with Barkley picking out Dan Hipkiss. The centre put in a deft touch to release Banahan who stormed over the line and touched down. Barkley added the extras, taking Bath’s lead to 10-3.

In keeping with the frantic nature of the game, Wasps responded quickly. Nathan Catt put in a barnstorming chip and chase, but Joe Simpson gathered for Wasps and released Christian Wade along the line. The winger looked set to score, but a fantastic try-saving tackle from Barkley saw the danger averted – for the moment at least.

The visitors kept the ball, and, after a period of sustained attack where they tried to find a way through the staunch Bath defence, a penalty was given and Robinson clawed back three points as the half-time whistle blew. 10-6.

Bath came out for the second half ready to press home their advantage, and quickly increased the lead with another penalty from Barkley after a great scrum from the home pack saw Wasps penalised.

The advantage was added to just minutes later with Biggs crossing over for Bath’s second try. A loose pass from Robinson hit teammate Tom Palmer on the back and ricocheted into the path of Biggs who chipped ahead, setting up a footrace between himself and Wade as they headed for the line. The Bath man held his line, powered in front of the Wasps wing and held on to touch down under pressure. Barkley again converted. 20-6.

Wasps were not letting go though and Tom Varndell managed to get on the end of a neat chip from lock Marco Wentzel to go over for their first try and to bring them back to within seven points as Robinson added the conversion. 20-13.

Bath had the opportunity to close the game out going into the final quarter of the after Carl Fearns stormed towards the tryline. The flanker was unable to find either Biggs or Michael Claassens with his pass though, and Wasps managed to escape and clear.

A good kick from Banahan gave Bath some vital territory, and set up the final home try of the game. From the lineout, the ball was shipped wide, Nick Abendanon making a strong run in the midfield, before Barkley picked out Kyle Eastmond in the centres. The wing collected the ball and jinked his way to the tryline, bursting through a number of tackles on his way to dance over for a superb score – his first in a competitive fixture for Bath. Barkley again completed the try, 27-13.

A turnover from Joe Launchbury gave the visitors hope of a losing bonus point, as he released Christian Wade to run in down the line, with Robinson converting, and the fly-halves traded a penalty a-piece as the game drew to its conclusion, Robinson’s coming on the final whistle.

Final Score – Bath Rugby 30 – London Wasps 23.

 

14th SEPTEMBER 2012 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

Despite not conceding a try, Bath Rugby could only take a losing bonus point in their hard-fought 14-18 defeat to Northampton Saints at the Recreation Ground.

A promising start saw Nick Abendanon cross the try-line within the first minute to give Bath the lead. A well taken lineout in the Saints half saw the ball spun quickly across the pitch, before it found its way back to Tom Biggs who put in a well-timed grubber kick for Abendanon to run onto and go over in the corner. The conversion attempt was on the touchline for Olly Barkley and the fly-half couldn’t quite find the angle to add the extras. 5-0.

Shortly after though, the lead was reduced after referee Andrew Small adjudged Bath to have come in from the side, allowing Stephen Myler to reduce the deficit. 5-3.

Bath were soon back on the attack though and a surging run from Dan Hipkiss saw the centre win a penalty, which Barkley successfully converted, restoring the five point lead.

Two quick penalties for Saints saw them draw within two points and then take the lead just after 20 minutes, Myler maintaining his 100% kicking record for the evening. 8-9.

Bath were building in attack, and Ben Williams came close to breaking through the strong Saints defence, only for the referee to call a knock-on after Williams was tackled.

Despite the pressure, it was Saints who added to their tally next. Bath turned over the ball, but were penalised in the process, giving Myler the opportunity to make it 8-12 with five minutes left of the half. Barkley had the chance to bring the home side to within a point on the stroke of half time, but his attempt came rebounding off the post and allowed Saints to clear.

Half-time – 8-12.

Saints came out firing and were putting pressure on the home defence from the start of the second half. An accidental knock-on from Tom Biggs broke the momentum, but it wasn’t long before Myler added to the Saints score with another penalty. 8-15.

Bath hit-back straight away from the kick-off though, forcing Saints to give away a penalty at the ruck through strong attacking play, which Barkley sent sailing through the posts to bring Bath back to within four points.

He added to this six minutes later after a powerful driving maul resulted in a scrum and then penalty in Bath’s favour. 14-15.

Myler’s only miss of the evening came at 65 minutes after they had been awarded a penalty at the scrum. Bath tried to take advantage of the slight momentum shift, and had some good phases building towards the Saints line.

A stolen lineout saw Barkley send the ball wide to Abendanon, which he swiftly offloaded to Hipkiss, who won the penalty as Saints went over the top. Barkley’s kick was low though, and it dipped under the bar with ten minutes to go.

A charge down kick from Barkley saw Luther Burrell burst through and give Saints good field position, allowing replacement full-back Tom May to slot a drop goal, reinstating their four point lead. 14-18.

Bath refused to give up, and attacked hard for the remaining few minutes. However, despite heavy pressure, they were unable to breach the Saints defence, and had to settle for the bonus point as the final whistle blew.

Final Score 14-18.

22nd SEPTEMBER 2012 LONDON IRISH V BATH

A try from Kyle Eastmond alongside a conversion and five penalties from Olly Barkley wasn’t enough for Bath Rugby to overcome London Irish at the Madejski Stadium as they fell to a 29-22 loss.

Both sides were looking to press forward in the early stages of the game, and when Marland Yarde failed to gather the high ball it gave Bath the chance to take an early lead as Olly Barkley looked to strike a drop goal from the back of a scrum. The attempt was wide, but Bath maintained the pressure. A good lineout, following a penalty in the visitors favour at the scrum, saw a powerful driving maul set up and Irish had no choice but to give away the penalty to halt it. Barkley made no mistake this time, giving Bath the lead after nine minutes. 0-3.

Irish were looking lively in attack though, and it wasn’t long before Steven Shingler had levelled the scores for the hosts.

An exchange of penalties followed, with both Barkley and Shingler striking the ball well, before the Irish centre gave them the lead on the 23rd minute with his second kick from the halfway line.

Staunch defence from Bath quickly snuffed out the attacking opportunities for Irish, and they were soon on the attack themselves. A well-secured lineout saw the ball come back to Stephen Donald, and as Eastmond looped behind him, the fly-half floated the pass out the winger. Eastmond broke and fedNick Abendanon who continued the break, with Tom Biggs outside him in support. Eastmond was quickly on his inside shoulder though, and as the ball was offloaded he had a simple run in. Barkley’s conversion was good, and Bath were back in front on the half hour, 9-13.

Shingler’s monster boot came to the fore again moments later though, this time kicking from just inside the Bath half to reduce the deficit to just one point.

The hosts continued to push hard, and with just a minute left of the half they got the break as Halani Aulika drove over from short range. Shingler got the conversion, and it was 19-13 at half-time.

Barkley immediately clawed three back for the visitors when the teams returned to the pitch after Irish were seen to come in from the side, but the home side were refusing to give in to the pressure, instead forcing their way up the field and into a good position on the field. The Bath defence held their ground, but when Ian Humphreys combined well with Yarde in the centre, they released Jonathan Joseph to burst through and score. Shingler’s conversion took the lead to 10 points, but Bath weren’t giving up, and powered their way into the opposition half.

A strong lineout drive from Bath saw Jamie Gibson sin-binned for repeated infringements, and the visitors looked to press home their advantage with Barkley kicking for the corner rather than goal. The forwards drew the defence, picking and going from close range. The ball was shipped wide, and whilst it looked like a try was certain, there was a knock-on and the advantage lost.

The Irish defence, a problem for them in their first three games, had been shored up and weren’t giving in to the heavy pressure from the visitors attack.
Barkley reduced the gap with two more penalties in the closing stages, but Shingler was on hand again to extend the lead with one of his own, taking the score to 29-22 as the game drew to an end.

With just seven points in it, Bath continued to hit Irish with wave after wave of attack, but they were unable to find the gap they needed to wriggle through for the try, and it finished with just a losing bonus point for the visitors.

Final Score – London Irish 29 – Bath Rugby 22.

29th SEPTEMBER 2012 BATH V SALE

Bath Rugby gave Olly Barkley a winning send-off as they consigned Sale Sharks to a fifth straight defeat in the Aviva Premiership at the Recreation Ground today, final score 31-10.

The visitors had the first shot at goal, but fly-half Nick Macleod couldn’t find his angle and missed the chance to give them an early lead.

Man of the hour Barkley, who was playing his last game in the blue, black and white before departing for Racing Metro 92 on Monday, made no such mistake when he was handed the ball for Bath’s first penalty. A loose line-out from Sale saw Bath pounce and spread the ball wide. Kyle Eastmond was heavily involved in the build-up, and whilst he couldn’t quite hold on to Stephen Donald’s looping pass, the referee took play back for a penalty on the touchline. Barkley sent the ball sailing through the posts, to give Bath the lead on nine minutes.

He doubled the lead two minutes later, before Macleod got Sale on the board on 14 minutes. 6-3.

Bath kept looking to attack, forging their way up the field, but were unable to break the defence early on. Sale’s indiscipline let them down though, with Barkley striking another solid penalty just before the half hour mark.

A sensational take in the air from Michael Claassens led to the next penalty, allowing David Wilson charged up the field in possession. Sale infringed, and Barkley secured three more. 12-3.

It went from bad to worse for the visitors as they soon found themselves a man down after Tom Brady took Ben Skirving out in the air from the re-start, and they had a chance to claw back three points moments later but Macleod was again off target with his attempt.

Half time score – 12-3.

Bath came out hard from the break, eager to turn the screw on the visitors, and it was Wilson who sparked the game into life.

The tighthead prop went on a bullocking run through the midfield, carving open the Sale defence. The ball was quickly recycled and sent through the hands of the forwards, before it was spread wide to Simon Taylor and Nick Abendanon outside. Abendanon couldn’t find his way through to the line, but as the ball came back into the middle of the pitch, Wilson was on hand to power over from short range. Barkley was good with the conversion, extending Bath’s lead to 19-3.

Sale were still fighting though, and hit back with a try of their own. Good work from their forwards took them within range, allowing Samoan centre Johnny Leota to burrow over and score. Macleod converted, bringing them back to within nine points of the home side.

The game was well into its closing stages when the next score occurred, and it came from an interception.

Bath were defending in their 22 when a sloppy pass found Barkley, who fed the ball wide to Tom Biggs. The winger raced away, and chipped ahead, trying to get the better of his opposite number, Mark Cueto. The ex-England wing fielded the kick well, but Biggs caught him in possession, and Cueto conceded the penalty. Opting for the lineout, the forwards secured the ball, drove hard, and sent Ben Skirving over to take Bath into a 24-10 lead with six minutes remaining.

Anthony Perenise looked to have scored Bath’s third shortly after, but referee Sean Davey ruled no try, and instead it was the last play of the game that extended the winning margin.

With just a minute left on the clock Andy Powell hit Dominic Day with a dangerous tackle, seeing yellow for his troubles and Bath awarded a penalty.

They opted for the scrum, and after a monumental shove saw the Sale pack travel back at a rate of knots, the home side were awarded a penalty try, leaving Barkley to kick the final points of the game, and his last for Bath, to seal the win.

Final Score – Bath Rugby 31 – Sale Sharks 10.

6th OCTOBER 2012 GLOUCESTER V BATH

Despite a converted try within the first minute of the game from Stephen Donald, Bath Rugby could not prevent local rivals Gloucester taking the bragging rights in a physical, hard-fought West Country derby at Kingsholm. Final Score 16-10.

It looked to be the perfect start for Bath when Donald went over after just 32 seconds. Nick Abendanon had burst through and offloaded to David Wilson, who then made a bullocking run of his own. The tighthead quickly offloaded out of the tackle to Donald who burst through the Gloucester defence and sprinted 40 metres to score. He converted his own try, giving the visitors an early 0-7 lead.

It was a lead they held on to for the remainder of the first half as they pinned the home side back in their own half, quickly snuffing out any threat of attack from the Cherry and Whites.

With the notorious Shed somewhat quieter than normal, the 14th minute initially seemed to silence them even more. Sam Vesty received the ball in the midfield and looped round to grubber through to Eastmond out wide. The wing danced along the edge of the try-line, and managed to get the ball away to Abendanon just before he was tackled. Abendanon touched down, and it looked as if Bath had doubled their lead. Referee Dave Pearson consulted the TMO however, who ruled no try as Eastmond had edged into touch before offloading.

A penalty at the scrum meant Bath could extend their lead six minutes later though, Donald sending the ball sailing through the posts following some good work from the pack. 0-10.

Whilst Bath were on top for much of the first half, two penalties late in the first half from Freddie Burns got some points on the board for the home side, and gave them a lift going in at half-time. 6-10.

Burns had the chance early in the second-half to narrow the gap once more, but he was wide with the penalty attempt.

It didn’t dent the Gloucester confidence though, and they dominated early on in the second half. They appeared to have got their first try of the match through Shane Monahan, but some critical defensive work from Tom Biggs and Ben Skirving saw the TMO rule no try after a double movement from the wing.

The Bath defence was working incredibly hard to keep the home side at bay, and after 52 minutes, they were stretched too far – Rob Cook going over in the corner. Burns got the conversion, giving Gloucester the lead for the first time in the game. 13-10.

A cliché it may be, but the game was quickly becoming one of two halves – whilst Gloucester had struggled for possession in the first half, so Bath were doing in the second. There were good breaks from Donald, Skirving and Biggs, but the visitors just couldn’t capitalise on them.

A drop goal from Burns on the 72nd minute gave the home side a small buffer, and whilst Bath battled hard for the remaining minutes, they were unable to breach the fierce home defence, and so had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Final Score – Gloucester Rugby 16 – Bath Rugby 10.

27th OCTOBER 2012 BATH V EXETER

Bath Rugby maintained their unbeaten run against the Exeter Chiefs with a 23-15 win at the Recreation Ground.

The home side opened the scoring after just three minutes with a try from Ben Williams. The centre had put in a huge hit on Jason Shoemark moments before, securing a penalty for the home side. From the resulting lineout, possession was held, and the ball spun through the hands, eventually finding Nick Abendanon who burst through. Williams was on the wing in support and crashed through the tackle of Gonzalo Camacho to go over in the corner. Fly-half Stephen Donald sent the touchline conversion sailing through the posts to give Bath a 7-0 lead.

Gareth Steenson had the chance to get the Chiefs on the score-board minutes later, only to see his penalty attempt bounce back at him off the upright.

Instead it was the home side who continued to control the early stages of the match, running the ball through the hands and working hard to find holes in the Exeter defence.

They were rewarded after 16 minutes, with Kyle Eastmond crossing in the corner. Another sparkling run from Abendanon allowed Francois Louw to bulldoze his way to the line. The flanker was felled just short, but the ball was quickly recycled by Donald. The fly-half saw the space out wide with Eastmond virtually unmarked, and looped the ball to the wing to score Bath’s second try. 12-0.

Another penalty attempt was missed by Steenson before Exeter found their way onto the scoreboard, as they stretched the Bath defence to its limit, allowing prop Brett Sturgess to cross. 12-5.

Bath didn’t panic and kept the majority of possession for the rest of the half, probing at the Exeter 22. Another period of attack close to the half-time whistle proved too much for the Exeter defence and they conceded a penalty at the lineout. Advantage was played but play was eventually brought back for the original penalty. Donald was straight and true with his attempt, and it gave Bath a 10 point advantage going into half-time. 15-5.

Exeter started the second half much brighter, attacking from the kick-off. Steenson managed to dissect the uprights at the fourth time of asking after 49 minutes, and the visitors’ confidence was growing.

Despite the growing amount of possession Exeter were enjoying, they were finding it hard to get out of their own half, choosing to run the ball back at the home side. Turnover ball from the hosts created the third try, after some patient build up through the hands saw Louw barge his way through the Exeter defence and crash over the line, extending the lead back to 12 points with 20 minutes left to play.

And what a tense 20 minutes it turned out to be. Exeter continually tried to work their way through the Bath defence, sneaking through any gap they could find. Twice they looked to have gone over the tryline, only for the scores to be ruled out for a double movement and being held up. The pressure eventually told though, with Dan Hipkiss being shown a yellow card in the build-up to the second for slowing the ball down.

Exeter took advantage of the extra man, piling on more pressure from five metres out, and as the defence tried to hold firm a gap eventually emerged, Ignacio Mieres finding it to score. He converted his own try, taking Exeter to within seven points with 10 minutes remaining.

Given the chance to relieve the pressure, Donald dutifully did with a touch finding kick, however Hipkiss picked up a second yellow card whilst in the sin bin for trying to prevent the quick lineout, meaning Bath were forced to play the remainder of the game with 14 men.

The defence was working tirelessly to try and prevent Exeter from entering the red zone again, and when Chris Whitehead pulled Nathan Catt back off the ball, Donald wasted no time in taking the opportunity to go for goal and put three more points between the two sides as the clock counted down.

Both sides were searching for the elusive bonus point as the game drew to its close – Mieres’s missed penalty for Exeter saw Bath charge back at them, but eventually the ball was lost and the game ended with no further scores.

Final score – Bath Rugby 23 – Exeter Chiefs 15

 

4th NOVEMBER 2012 LONDON WELSH V BATH

Bath Rugby came away from the Kassam Stadium with a losing bonus point this afternoon after Nick Scott stole a 16-9 win for London Welsh with an intercept try in the last minute of the game.

Stephen Donald and Gavin Henson exchanged early penalty misses as the game commenced, before the Welshman broke the deadlock on 10 minutes.

Bath were looking to create space to attack with centres Matt Banahan and Ben Williams combining well to bust holes in the Welsh defence. However, the home side held on and managed to re-group and keep out Michael Claassens, Guy Mercer and Tom Biggs as they launched a series of attacks on the try line.

With just under 20 minutes gone, Welsh forced their way up-field. A great covering tackle from Mercer prevented the breakaway try, but a couple of phases on and Henson extended the lead after referee Andrew Small awarded a penalty. 6-0.

Bath were working hard in Welsh territory, with the home side struggling to get out of their own half much in the first half. However it took until the 29th minute before Bath could get some points on the board. Academy back-row Will Skuse drove from the lineout and earned a penalty after Welsh were guilty of holding on. It was a tricky angle for Donald, but the fly-half curled the ball beautifully inside the posts, taking the score to 6-3.

Bath had the upper hand as the first half drew to a close, and from a lineout 20 metres out Lee Mears burst through the defence. The ball was recycled and found the hands of Dave Attwood who powered his way over the line, only for Small to rule he was held-up and blow the whistle for half-time.

The visitors came out for the second half looking to convert some of their pressure into points. A collapsed scrum from Welsh on the 50 minute mark gave Donald the chance to draw the game level. The fly-half gave Bath the lead with an almost identical penalty kick ten minutes later, after Attwood was brought down in the lineout. 6-9.

With ten minutes to go the visitors were looking to close the game out with the defence working hard to snuff out any Welsh attack before it gathered momentum. Replacement fly-half Gordon Ross missed his first opportunity to bring the scores level once more, but made no mistake the second time around as the game was drawing to a close. 9-9.

As the last minute of the game ticked on, Bath looked for one last attack. Donald spotted an overlap out-wide, and threw a long pass. Ex-Bath Academy wing Scott, having read the pass, came in off his wing and intercepted, winning the 40m footrace with Kyle Eastmond to score between the posts. Ross’s conversion sealed the win for the home side, and Bath were left ruing missed opportunities.

Final score London Welsh 16 – Bath Rugby 9.

 

 

 

 

 

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