6th SEPTEMBER 2013 NEWCASTLE V BATH
A wet and windy night greeted Bath Rugby as they arrived at Kingston Park for the first Aviva Premiership game of the season against Newcastle Falcons, but this didn’t deter the Blue, Black and White from coming away with a hard-earned 0-21 win.
The visitors tried to apply early pressure, looking to run the ball when they could, despite the conditions. A darting break from George Ford led to the first penalty of the night, as he broke through the defensive line and into the 22. As play broke down, referee Wayne Barnes brought the teams back for the penalty, and the young fly-half, kicking into the swirling wind, slotted the ball cleanly through the posts to give Bath the lead after six minutes. 0-3.
Conditions were playing their part, but both sides tried to play the ball. A pretty even half was nearly reflected on the scoreboard when Newcastle won their first kickable penalty of the game at the scrum, but fly-half Phil Godman skewed the ball wide. 0-3.
Four minutes before the end of the half, the home side infringed at the ruck, and although it was some distance out, Ford stepped up and nailed the kick to double the lead.
Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 0 – Bath Rugby 6.
The visitors were eager to get an early grip on the game coming out from the break, and they kept the Falcons pinned back in their own half for large periods. With 58 minutes gone, Ford added another three points to the lead following a penalty at the scrum. 0-9.
In a battle largely dominated by the forwards, it seemed only fitting that it was a forward who scored the first try of the game. A huge driving maul from the Bath pack took the visitors into the danger zone, and replacement prop Anthony Perenise broke away to stretch over the line to score. Ford’s conversion came back off the post, but it was another five points added to the Bath lead with 16 minutes remaining. 0-14.
The pack continued to show their power, and with just two minutes to replacement hooker Ross Batty found his man in the lineout to set-up another huge driving maul. The Falcons were left with no option but to pull the maul down illegally, and referee Barnes blew his whistle to signal the penalty try. Ford was on once again on target with the conversion, and so the game ended.
Final score – Newcastle Falcons 0 – Bath Rugby 21.
14th SEPTEMBER 2013 BATH V LEICESTER
The 100th anniversary of the first match ever played between Bath Rugby and Leicester Tigers ended in the most dramatic of fashions as Bath held off a second-half fight back from the visitors to clinch a 27-20 win in front of a packed Recreation Ground.
Both sides failed in their first attempts at goal, but Tigers’ French scrum-half David Mele was more successful with his second, giving the visitors the early lead. On the restart, tighthead prop Dan Cole knocked on attempting to steal the loose ball. A strong Bath scrum won a second shot at goal for Ford, who made sure this one was straight and true. 3-3.
On 21 minutes, and to rapturous applause from the home crowd, Jonathan Joseph broke Tigers’ hopes of a try after intercepting a Ryan Lamb pass in his own half and gliding through the defence and all the way under the posts. Ford’s conversion made it 10-3.
Bath were on the attack once more when the Tigers loosehead, Logovi’I Mulipola, was yellow carded for a shoulder charge on lock Dave Attwood. It wasn’t long until the dominant Bath pack won a shot at goal with another strong scrummage – Ford punishing Tigers’ indiscipline with a further three points to go ahead 13-3.
Tigers were dealt a second yellow card as Tom Youngs was binned for his pack’s collapse at the scrum and Ford, his boot still warm from the previous kick, slotted another three points to make it 16-3.
The first-half was drawing to a close with the visitors pressing in the Bath half. But fortunes turned, and a Tigers kick went loose under pressure from Semesa Rokoduguni and Ford cleared. Re-gathering the clearance kick, Bath spun the ball wide and inside centre Gavin Henson found Matt Banahan in space, and the winger displayed all his gas to sprint 40m to score in the corner with two defenders hanging from his coat-tails.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 21 – Leicester Tigers 3.
Shortly after the break, and back to a full complement of men, Leicester redoubled their efforts, and the TMO adjudged after some time that the scoring pass to flanker Steve Mafi from Thompstone wasn’t forward. With Mele’s conversion missed, it was 21-8 to Bath.
Tigers kept up the pressure, and Bath had to be completely on the ball in defence. Tigers again plunged into the Bath 22, and a foray near 70 minutes resulted in a try on the left wing for second-row Ed Slater. Mele’s conversion from a tough angle sailed through the posts, and the score was now a nail-biting 21-15 to Bath as the clock ticked down.
One incredible break by replacement back-rower Alafoti Fa’osiliva provided Bath with much-needed impetus as he broke through three tackles, only for his side to be turned over. Ford’s high ball seemed to be going into the hands of Tom Biggs, before the winger was obstructed off the ball. Ford’s penalty from just within the Tigers half was a good one, amidst a respectful silence from both home and away supporters. 24-15.
Leicester came straight back at the home side though, and after a series of pick and goes from the forwards, the ball was spread wide to Verniki Goneva, who touched down in the corner. To the relief of the home supporters, Mele’s conversion skewed left of the posts. 24-20.
Bath carried on chipping away at Tigers’ resolve, hungry for those crucial extra points. It proved fruitful, as Tigers failed to roll away and, aptly, it was Ford who delivered the finishing blow in front of the posts. 27-20.
A tremendous lift from his fellow forwards gave Dominic Day the platform to receive Leicester’s restart and Man of the Match Ford wasted no time in kicking the ball to touch to continue a perfect start to the season for Bath against their old rivals from the East Midlands.
Final Score: Bath Rugby 27 – Leicester Tigers 20.
22nd SEPTEMBER 2013 SARACENS V BATH
Bath Rugby succumbed to their first defeat of the season at Allianz Park this afternoon, losing 31-17 to a determined Saracens.
The first points of the game came from a penalty awarded to Saracens after Bath were judged to have not rolled away at the ruck close to their own posts, fly-half Owen Farrell taking the simple kick to make it 3-0 to the home side.
Saracens knocked on at the restart, under pressure from the oncoming Bath defenders. A sustained series of attacks on the home tryline – a position which came from a powerful burst from outside centre Matt Banahan – resulted in a penalty to Bath in front of the posts, which fly-half Tom Heathcote duly converted. 3-3.
A Saracens ball was stolen at the lineout by Bath, only to bounce into loosehead prop Mako Vunipola’s hands, before being shipped out wide for David Strettle to score. Farrell’s conversion made it 10-3 after 10 minutes.
The home side were soon back in Bath’s half, and while the visitors’ defence scrambled well, fullback Alex Goode took little time to profit from some good work from his forwards, scoring close enough to the posts for Farrell to convert with ease. 17-3.
When Bath failed to roll away from a ruck, Saracens opted for the lineout in the exact same spot. Bath’s defence was good, but hooker Rob Webber was unlucky to be shown a yellow card for offside in the same phase of play. Down to 14 men, tighthead Matt Stevens showed great aerial prowess to dive over for another Saracens try, with Farrell adding the extras. 24-3.
A magnificent tackle by the resolute Dominic Day knocked the ball from Saracens’ grasp in Bath’s 22, relieving a final quarter of relentless pressure from the home side. The clearance kick was retrieved by Goode, who soon found wing Chris Ashton. Saracens knocked-on, but the following phases of play all belonged to Saracens, and Strettle was again the grateful recipient of an easy run-in in the left-hand corner. With Farrell on target, Saracens were 28 points ahead going into the break.
Half-time: Saracens 31 – Bath Rugby 3.
The match restarted with the away team restored to a full complement of men, and a renewed sense of determination to take some control of the game.
Whilst Bath had the upper hand territorially in the second-half, Saracens’ first venture into their 22 was very nearly a prosperous one, until some sharp awareness saw Semesa Rokoduguni latch onto a miss-pass intended for Strettle and sprint the length of the field to score under the posts. Ford converted. 31-10.
A breakaway run moments later from Bath blindside Alafoti Fa’osiliva, during which he evaded the attention of three tacklers, was further proof that Bath had the go-forward spirit in them.
When the visitors were awarded a penalty after Saracens held on at the ruck, their touch-finder was accurate. The lineout on Saracens’ 5m turned into a driving maul, but the ball was knocked-on. With Bath winning the ball against the head for the third time in the match, they decided to go pack down once more.
A marvellous stolen ball by prominent replacement Matt Garvey enabled George Ford to run all the way from his 22 deep into Saracens territory; Ashton’s last-ditch tackle putting him into touch agonisingly close to the whitewash.
From there, Bath won a free kick, which second row Dave Attwood used to brutal effect, swatting away the would-be defenders and scoring from close range under the posts. Ford converted, 31-17.
Saracens’ response was immediate, and they looked close to scoring a fifth try until some aggressive work by Leroy Houston at the breakdown gave Bath a penalty, not to mention some respite. The Bath lineout that followed was deemed to be not straight, but their strength at the scrum shone through again and they won the ball against the head. A second penalty for Saracens not releasing enabled Bath to tap and go, making good inroads into Saracens territory.
A knock-on ensured Bath wouldn’t be leaving Watford with a losing bonus point, but they could take some consolation in keeping the home side pointless in the second-half.
Final Score: Saracens 31 – Bath Rugby 17.
28th SEPTEMBER 2013 BATH V LONDON IRISH
A five-try, bonus point performance saw Bath Rugby return to winning ways this afternoon, in a frantic encounter with London Irish.
Bath’s intent was clear from the start, when two early penalty chances were sent to the corner by Man of the Match George Ford.
Eager to capitalise on their momentum, Bath tapped and went, and Jonathan Joseph danced his way through the defence, stretching out to score with the ball in one hand. With Ford’s conversion attempt successful, it was 7-0 after five minutes.
A penalty for the Exiles in Bath’s 22 on 10 minutes was swiftly converted by fly-half Shane Geraghty, making it 7-3. He nearly made it two from two moments later when Bath were pinged at the lineout, but his attempt curled to the left of the post.
With 20 minutes gone, Ford’s chip and chase to the corner pressured Topsy Ojo into taking the ball into touch. The quick-thinking fly-half instantly launched a lineout pass to openside Guy Mercer 5m out from the tryline, the flanker scoring to make it 12-3. Ford converted taking the score to 14-3.
Ford received a high ball from Exiles wing Topsy Ojo on his own 10 metre line and set off on a jinking run. Feigning to run right, he stepped back inside and went on an exhilarating run which ended under the posts for Bath’s third try. A contender for one of the tries of the Aviva Premiership thus far, Ford converted his own try. 21-3 to Bath.
Minutes later, a neat one-two at the lineout from Rob Webber and Dominic Day sent the home side on a driving maul from Exiles’ 5m line. The hooker peeled away from the maul to score – but the first-half was far from over.
The Exiles, perhaps realising they needed a try before half-time, chose to tap their penalty deep in Bath territory. The gamble paid off as Geraghty scored in the right-hand corner, converting his own try to make it 26-10 to Bath.
Bath were quick to bounce back, though, Mercer side-stepping his way to his second try two minutes before time, after a swift pop inside from Ford to Semesa Rokoduguni enabled the wing to make great strides into the Exiles’ 22 . The conversion an accurate one.
Half-Time: Bath Rugby 33-10 London Irish
London Irish came out fighting in the second-half, and the first points were theirs after Bath were pinged inside their 22, Geraghty making it 33-13.
Some incredibly entertaining rugby from Bath gave the crowd reason the cheer with 50 minutes gone, before replacement fullback Ollie Devoto made good his grubber kick to put pressure on Exiles in their own half. From there, Bath won a penalty and, despite the bonus point already being in the bag, opted for a scrum.
The dominant Bath scrum saw the away pack penalised three times, before the fourth call went Exiles’ way. Scrappy passages of play followed, with knock-ons disrupting both sides’ ambitions, before the hard-working Bath pack won a scrum against the head just when it counted.
Replacement second row and Club captain Stuart Hooper stole the ball at the lineout, only for his side to be penalised for being offside. The Exiles were only in Bath’s 22 for a matter of seconds before the men in Blue, Black and White stole the ball again, Mercer pinching it to the relief of the home crowd.
With eight minutes to go, Geraghty kicked for touch on a penalty. The Exiles forwards recycled the ball to their backs, and when wing Alex Lewington chipped past the Bath defence, it was Geraghty who was on the receiving end, dotting down over the tryline. 33-18.
Though Bath were scoreless in a frustrating second half, they were nonetheless enterprising, choosing to keep running the ball instead of kicking to touch for the referee to blow up for full time. Ultimately though, with time up on the clock, it was left to Ford to finish the game by sending the touch for the final time.
Final Score – Bath Rugby 33-18 London Irish
4th OCTOBER 2013 SALE V BATH
Bath Rugby came away from the AJ Bell Stadium tonight with a losing bonus point after being beaten 19-13 by Sale Sharks.
After one penalty miss a-piece from Danny Cipriani and George Ford, it was Cipriani who opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a drop goal. A break from the back of the scrum led Sale well into the Bath 22, and with the home forwards picking and going, the ball fell back to the waiting fly-half who sent it straight through the posts. 3-0.
The lead was short-lived however, as Semesa Rokoduguni side-stepped his way to the try line. A well taken lineout and heaving driving maul saw Peter Stringer emerge with the ball. The scrum-half found Rokoduguni on the wing, and the Fijian jinked his way through three on-coming defenders from about 40 metres out to sail over the line. Ford added the conversion, 3-7.
Alafoti Fa’osiliva, on for Leroy Houston, very nearly scored an astonishing try as he charged 50 metres up field. It looked very much like the Samoan had scored, with a thumping hand-off on his way to the line, only for the Television Match Official to rule no try due to a foot in touch.
It was in fact the home side who were next to score, Cipriani adding a penalty before Andy Forsyth crossed in the corner after a series of phases from the home side spread the Bath defence too wide. Cirpriani added the conversion. 13-7.
Bath quickly worked their way into the Sale half and earned a penalty at the scrum, successfully scored by Ford, but this was cancelled out minutes later with another penalty from Cipriani.
Half-time: Sale Sharks 16 – Bath Rugby 10.
The second-half started in much the same way as the first half finished , with the kickers trading testing up and unders. When Sale were awarded a penalty on the half-way line, Cipriani stepped up and added a further three. 19-10.
It was then Ford’s turn for a long range shot, and whilst that attempt drifted wide, he made amends with his next attempt, reducing the deficit to six points.
As the 60 minute mark ticked over, Sale were reduced to 14 men after lock Michael Paterson was shown a yellow card. The penalty chance was missed however, and although Bath had upped the tempo from the start of the second-half, they were unable to take advantage of the extra man as the galvanised Sale defence kept them from crossing the whitewash.
Sale missed two further penalties, one from Man of the Match Cipriani and one from his replacement Joe Ford, and even though Bath mounted attack after attack in the dying minutes of the game, the stubborn home defence stood firm.
Final score – Sale Sharks 19 – Bath Rugby 13.
26th OCTOBER 2013 BATH V GLOUCESTER
Bath Rugby saw off West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby in tense fashion this evening, clinching a 15-13 win.
On a rain-soaked evening at the Rec, it was a match where tactical kicking was very much to the fore. George Ford peppered Gloucester with probing kicks from the outset, and first blood went to Bath in this historic fixture, as they were awarded a penalty with five minutes gone on the clock. Ford converted to rapturous applause from the home crowd. 3-0.
A dizzying break by Kyle Eastmond through the Gloucester defence lit up the first quarter, but any promise of a try was snuffed out by the extremely slippery ball.
With just over 20 minutes on the clock, Francois Louw displayed expert technique and strength to drive back Mike Tindall and turn the outside centre away from his support, earning a penalty for his side. The kick from Ford was fractionally wide, but it was a great statement by the returning Springbok flanker.
On the half hour mark, Bath won another penalty as Gloucester collapsed the scrum under overwhelming pressure from the home pack. Ford squeaked the ball between the posts from 30m out, doubling the lead to 6-0.
Soon after, Gloucester failed to roll away at the ruck after a bullocking run by Matt Garvey. Ford was once more good with the boot, adding the three points.
Gloucester registered their first points of the game with minutes to go until half-time, after Bath were penalised for going off their feet at the ruck, with Burns the points scorer, narrowing the gap to just six points.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 9 – Gloucester Rugby 3
Two minutes into the second half, Jonathan Joseph was tackled off the ball. From there, the penalty kick was swiftly put into touch by Ford. After winning their lineout, Bath knocked on at the maul in Gloucester’s 22, but the increasingly dominant pack forced the opposition into giving away another scrum penalty, and Ford stroked the ball over sweetly. 12-3.
With half an hour to go, an impressive rolling maul from Bath’s 22 took them up to halfway, with influential number eight Carl Fearns breaking away to make good yardage. Gloucester gave away a penalty in the tackle, and Ford kicked into their 22. From the lineout, Bath again used to their maul to great effect, Gloucester collapsing under the pressure and gifting a penalty to the home side.
This time, Ford opted for touch. The Rec began to rumble with the noise of the crowd. Gloucester were again penalised, this time on their 5m line, and Ford kicked for touch again. Bath knocked on at the lineout, but there was still the prospect of a scrum on 5m. Referee Wayne Barnes immediately blew the whistle in Bath’s favour. As they attacked from the scrum, Gloucester illegally played the ball on the ground and lost tighthead Rupert Harden to the sin bin. Bath were unable to extend the lead however, as Ford’s kick hit the upright.
Gloucester were offered a way in on the hour mark with a penalty 35m out, but Burns’ kick hit the upright. Bath knocked on gathering the rebound, and the havoc was made worse when Burns charged down their clearance kick and won the race with Rokoduguni to touch down under the posts. His straightforward conversion made it 12-10, and Gloucester were very much back in the game.
Nearing the final ten minutes of the match, Gloucester failed to roll away at the ruck following some evasive, fancy footwork from Joseph. Bath won the resulting lineout and Gloucester were subsequently penalised for obstruction. Ford kicked a further three points for his side, extending the lead to 15-10.
Minutes later, Bath, down to 14 men following a yellow card to fullback Anthony Watson, found themselves only two points ahead after a penalty kick from Burns. But it was Bath’s consistent effectiveness at the set-pieces that calmed the nerves.
Yet another break from Fearns raised the spirits of the Blue, Black and White faithful, coming as it did from an overturned Gloucester scrum. As they finally hauled Fearns to ground, the Cherry and Whites were then penalised for not rolling away. A chance to distance themselves on the scoreboard evaded Bath, though, with Ford’s kick just short.
Bath, with fresh legs on in the front now, proceeded to win the ball against the head and the crowd had begun to reach a crescendo. But then Gloucester won a penalty on their 5m with a minute to go and Burns kicked to touch.
The crowd were now on their feet, especially so when Garvey stole the ball from breakaway Gloucester captain Tom Savage in full flight. With time up on the clock Garvey’s support was good, and Stringer kicked to touch – to the audible relief and appreciation of a nerve-wracked home crowd.
Final Score: Bath Rugby 15 – Gloucester Rugby 13.
1ST NOVEMBER 2013 WORCESTER V BATH
Bath Rugby won their third Friday night match of the season 6-21 against Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
Like the previous two Friday outings against Newcastle Falcons and Gloucester Rugby it was played out under a heavy downpour, ensuring a demanding workload for the forwards.
The first points on the board came from George Ford on three minutes, Worcester having coughed up a penalty at the breakdown. 0-3.
Two minutes later, Ford doubled his tally after another ruck infringement from the home side. Thereafter his boot was a huge influence on Bath’s game going forward, forcing Worcester back into their own territory with near-pinpoint accuracy.
On 16 minutes, it was 0-9 after another Ford penalty. The fly-half was steering his side from deep in the pocket because of the extremely wet conditions, but he did so effectively, and always with willing chasers.
Despite the back-and-forth kicking game, Bath were slowly but surely making headway towards the Worcester line, with Anthony Watson in particular effective under the high ball and in attack. When Ford delivered another accurate grubber kick to touch on Worcester’s 5m line, the pressure seemed to tell on the homeside, whose wayward throw was snaffled by Matt Garvey. Dummy runner Rob Webber drew in the rushing Worcester defenders, allowing Anthony Perenise the power to dive over and touchdown. Ford’s conversion came on the half-hour mark, and took the score to 0-16.
Worcester fly-half Paul Warwick drew it back slightly for his side with three points just before half-time, but momentum was with the visitors as the referee blew his whistle to end the first-half.
Half-time: Worcester Warriors 3 – 16 Bath Rugby
Warwick bookended the half-time break with penalties, his second coming two minutes following the restart after the referee pinged Bath at the ruck. 6-21.
Following this, it was just under 20 minutes until the scoreboard changed again – admittedly a period in which Bath repeatedly and effectively denied the enthusiastic Warriors attack time and again with strong defence.
Near the hour mark, Worcester spilled the ball on half-way and Horacio Agulla, new to the field, pounced on the opportunity, racing away to score unopposed. Ford’s tricky conversion drifted wide, but Bath were now firmly in the lead. 6-21.
It was a lead Bath held until the final whistle, the overall power of their forwards, coupled with the savvy abilities of the backline safely guiding them out of any dangerous situations and through to close out the game.
Final score: Worcester Warriors 6 – Bath Rugby 21
8th NOVEMBER 2013 SALE V BATH
Bath Rugby sealed a dramatic late 20-27 victory against Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium tonight, with the winning try scored in the 80th minute.
The first half was an even display, starting with a Joe Ford penalty for the Sharks three minutes after the opening whistle.
Bath did very well to keep Sale out in the first quarter, the home side exerting pressure with the ball in hand. Nonetheless, the visitors kept their nerve in defence – not least out wide, where Tom Biggs showed precision and force in the tackle.
The key moment for Bath came on 24 minutes, after Shark fly-half Ford was deemed to have made his clearance kick from outside his 22. Suddenly the visitors had the invite their forwards had been waiting for, the resulting maul guzzling up yards patiently until Anthony Perenise touched down amidst the mass of bodies in the in-goal area. Tom Heathcote converted to make it 3-7.
Then, near the half-hour mark, Bath were penalised for not entering the ruck through the gate, and Sale kicked to touch. From a near-identical position to Bath’s try six minutes earlier, Sale scored from a driving maul, Ford’s conversion giving the home side the lead. 10-7.
With two minutes to go in the first half, Bath tapped and went after a free kick in Sharks’ 22. The edgy Sale defence were caught offside, and Tom Heathcote’s straightforward penalty kick made it 10-10 to end the first half.
Half-time: Sale Sharks 10 – Bath Rugby 10
It was Bath who had the upper hand at the start of the second half, despite the score remaining the same until sixteen minutes in, when Heathcote slotted a neat drop goal to give his team a 10-13 lead.
Despite glimpses of enterprising play from both sides, it wasn’t until a moment of magic from Matt Banahan in the 64th minute that the game truly came alive. Receiving the ball in Sale’s 22, Banahan made the deftest of chips over the Sharks defence, ghosted through the gap and touch down over the line to score his side’s second try. Heathcote’s conversion made it 10-20.
The game was far from over, however. With ten minutes to go, replacement Sharks fly-half Nick MacLeod kicked a penalty to bring his team within a converted try of Bath.
Bath almost had the win in the bag when, with two minutes to go, a Sale surge at their tryline was foiled by a fumbled ball into open space after a heavy tackle from the visitors. Bath even had the sniff of a length-of-the-field try and hoofed the ball downfield – except it was intercepted by Sale, who scored near the posts. MacLeod’s conversion made it 20-20.
It was in the final few minutes of the game that both sides, rather than take the draw, threw the kitchen sink at each other looking for the win.
First Sale looked to have broken away with an intercept, only for a heroic chase by Tom Biggs to haul his man back down. When play moved to the other side of the field following a Bath penalty, a Trojan effort by Dave Attwood resulted in an exhilarating try with time dead on the clock.
Heathcote made a fine conversion to put the cherry on a dazzling match between these two sides.
Final Score: Sale Sharks 20 – Bath Rugby 27
24TH NOVEMBER 2013 WASPS V BATH
Bath Rugby’s tremendous forward pack laid the platform for the West Country men to defeat London Wasps 5-28 in an ultimately convincing encounter at Adams Park.
In their first victory at High Wycombe in several seasons, Bath drew first blood in the third minute after Wasps were penalised for bringing down the visitors’ maul, Ford’s penalty kick making it 0-3.
Both Ford and Wasps fly-half Andy Goode – two of the most precise kickers in the Premiership – struggled from the tee early on, but the former found more joy with a drop goal in the 27th minute to take Bath six points clear.
A muted first half was brought alive in the 39th minute. Wasps had paid the price for persistently infringing on their 5m line as Bath plugged away patiently. With Wasps’ tighthead prop Phil Swainston in the sin bin, Bath attacked from the lineout and scrum-half Peter Stringer sent the ball wide. With Wasps in their renowned defensive blitz mode, first receiver Ford immediately offloaded to Jonathan Joseph. The outside centre span out of the would-be tackler’s grasp and sent Semesa Rokoduguni over in the corner with room to spare. The conversion was missed, but Bath went into half-time with a decent eleven-point buffer.
Half-time: London Wasps 0 – Bath Rugby 11
30TH NOVEMBER 2013 BATH V EXETER
A three-pointer from a George Ford penalty kick aside, the first 20 minutes of the second half brought very little to write home about – until, that is, Leroy Houston received the ball out wide and, instead of going back inside for support from his forwards, palmed off Wasps lock Tom Palmer and sprinted 20m down the wing before feeding inside man Rokoduguni for his second try of the match. This time, in front of the posts, Ford converted the Fijian’s touchdown and put Bath 18 points ahead.
Wasps responded ten minutes later through wing Jonah Holmes, who ran strongly onto fullback Elliot Daly’s pass to score his team’s first and only try. Replacement fly-half Joe Carlisle missed the conversion, however, and Bath led 5-18.
With four minutes left, a Bath penalty took them into the visitors’ 22. From the lineout, Matt Garvey showed surprising agility for such a big man to work his way over the line for Bath’s third and final try of the match. Tom Heathcote, who had come onto the field only two minutes earlier for Ford, repeated his recent feat against Sale Sharks to kick a masterful touchline conversion in the dying minutes of the game, making it 5-28 to Bath.
The highly impressive inside centre Ollie Devoto closed out the game with a second desperate tackle into touch of a Wasps player in as many minutes.
Final Score: London Wasps 5 – Bath Rugby 28
A gutsy display from both sides saw Bath Rugby edge an incredibly tense 21-16 encounter with Exeter Chiefs at a sold-out Rec this afternoon.
George Ford kicked all Bath’s points, his accuracy with the boot proving the main difference between the two West Country sides. It was a game far removed from their previous meeting two weeks ago, with Exeter taking the game to Bath from the off.
When a Chiefs player was tackled off the ball just outside Bath’s 22 with five minutes on the clock, Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked a penalty to make it 0-3 to the visitors.
George Ford was given the opportunity less than four minutes later to level the scores after the Chiefs were deemed offside in their attempt to scramble after a loose ball – one he took well to make it 3-3.
In the 22nd minute, Chiefs fullback Luke Arscott received a long kick from Ford. Realising that it was all Bath forwards out wide, he exploited the opportunity, second row Damian Welch doing well to reach over to score in the corner. Steenson missed with his conversion attempt, but Exeter led 3-8.
After some strong showings in the scrum from Bath (which allowed Peter Stringer to give opposite number Dave Lewis a torrid time), Ford banged over a penalty with eleven minutes remaining to bring his team within two points of Exeter. 6-8 to Chiefs.
In the final minute of the first half, and just when Bath needed it most after some relentless attacking phases from Exeter, Ford showed tremendous power with the boot to drill a penalty kick over from just a metre inside the visitors’ half.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 9 – Exeter Chiefs 8
Bath could have taken an easy shot at goal three minutes after the commencement of the second half, but having threatened to score immediately preceding their penalty, Ford put the ball into touch for the lineout. Unfortunately, it came to nothing when the referee awarded Exeter the scrum close to their own line after a Bath knock-on, and Chiefs sought to make the most of their reprieve.
Chiefs failed to roll away at the ruck well inside their half in the 54th minute, after some astute interlinking play by the Bath backs, and Ford kicked his fourth penalty of the evening. 12-8 to Bath.
On the hour mark, Exeter were quick to take advantage of a loose ball in Bath’s half, captain Dean Mumm kicking through and showing good pace to touch down in the right-hand corner. Steenson’s conversion failed after bouncing off the upright, but Chiefs now led 12-13.
After 63 minutes, Exeter wheeled the scrum under enormous pressure from the Bath pack and were penalised. The task of kicking a difficult penalty from out wide and almost from halfway was welcomed by Ford, who nailed it to edge Bath 15-13 ahead.
The successful kick seemed to re-energise the home side, and Bath upped the pace, winning ball back at the breakdown and attacking with gusto. It got them into a good enough position in Exeter territory that Ford was able to slot his second drop goal in as many weeks – and from a not inconsiderable distance. 18-13 to Bath.
Steenson got his team back to within two points after Bath were penalised at the scrum, and with the score now at 18-16, the tension at the Rec was palpable. Moments later, the Chiefs were given another penalty following a ruck infringement by Bath, but Steenson’s effort was fractionally wide.
With five minutes left on the clock, Bath had a scrum inside their own 22. Under duress, they shipped the ball wide and bravely decided to run the ball rather than kick it. Replacement fullback Nick Abendanon found Matt Banahan, who evaded two defenders and made enough yards to take Bath out of their half and out of the danger zone.
It was from this well-earned position that Bath were awarded a desperately-needed penalty when Exeter were pinged for not rolling away. Ford, having done so from a similar position almost 20 minutes earlier, kicked the crucial three points. 21-16.
An extremely tense encounter was ended when Bath won a penalty in the last minute of the game. Fittingly, it was Ford who booted the ball into touch to a chorus of approval from a packed Rec.
Final Score: Bath Rugby 21 – Exeter Chiefs 16
7TH DECEMBER 2013 BATH V RUGBY MOGILANO
Bath Rugby continued their winning run in the Amlin Challenge Cup with a nine try, bonus point win over Rugby Mogliano, final score 8-55.
Bath attacked early on, Nick Abendanon leading the charge and Olly Woodburn coming close to opening the scoring on the outside. However, it was the forwards who registered the first score for the visitors.
Mat Gilbert broke through the defence of his former team and Nathan Catt continued the attack with a charging run. Ryan Caldwell was on hand to carry further, before off-loading to his second row partner Dominic Day, who crashed his way over the line. Tom Heathcote added the conversion, giving Bath an early 0-7 lead.
Despite having the majority of the possession and territory in the opening quarter, the home side worked hard in defence and it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that Bath found a way to breakthrough. A series of driving mauls had brought the visitors close, and eventually the pressure told, with Carl Fearns crashing over from the back. Heathcote again added the extras.
Mogliano made the most of their first foray into the Bath 22, earning a penalty at the breakdown which fullback Nicolo Fadalti converted. 3-14.
Bath kept control though, and Gilbert and Fearns were both in bulldozing form. Good link play led to Abendanon finding Richard Lane with a neat inside pass for the Academy winger to go over the line. Heathcote was again on target, taking the lead to 3-21.
With 35 minutes gone on the clock a powerful Bath scrum saw Micky Young burst away from the back and sprint away from the Mogliano defenders. Good inter-play between the scrum-half and Lane saw the wing free in space to score his second try of the game. 3-26.
Half-time: Rugby Mogliano 3 – Bath Rugby 26.
The home side came out firing after the break, enjoying a strong phase of possession which eventually led to their only try of the game. The driving maul was put to good affect, and lock Andrea Ceccato got the score. 8-26.
Bath hit back quickly and once again took control of the game. Kyle Eastmond was next to score, darting through a gap and over the try line following some patient phases of play from the visitors.
The forwards kept up the high work-rate in the tight, and after being camped on the Mogliano try line and winning the resulting scrum, they were rewarded with the penalty try. Heathcote added the conversion, taking the lead to 8-38.
Mogliano were keeping up the fight, but three quick tries in the closing minutes of the game sealed the win for Bath.
First, the ball was turned over in the Mogliano 22, and after some quick work across the line, Tom Biggs latched onto the end of a long pass, stepped around the waiting defender and scored. 8-42.
Having scored the opening try of the game, Day was intergral in the final two. It was his bullocking run that led play right up into the Mogliano 22, and a long, arching pass found Lane out wide, who sprinted over for his hat-trick try. Heathcote rounded the score up to 50 with the conversion. 8-50.
The lock then got his own moment of glory, as another stunning solo run saw him go all the way to the try line and score his second to finish the game.
Final score: Rugby Mogliano 8 – Bath Rugby 55.
Tickets are available for the return fixture when Mogliano visit the Recreation Ground next Saturday, kick-off 15.00. Book online here or call the Ticket Office on 0844 448 1865 to secure your seats.
14TH DECEMBER 2013 BATH V RUGBY MOGILAND
Bath Rugby continued their unbeaten run in the Amlin Challenge Cup with a resounding 11 try, 63-0 beating of a plucky Rugby Mogliano side.
Having come away 8-55 winners last weekend against the same side, it didn’t take Bath long to carry on where they left off in Italy last week. A big rumble from an attacking lineout saw Carl Fearns dive over after just four minutes. From a tricky angle and with the wind swirling, Ford couldn’t convert the additional two points. 5-0.
Undeterred, Mogliano went straight back on the attack and soon found themselves with a shot at goal. The kick fell short and the score remained at 5-0 after seven minutes.
Bath’s attacking intent was clear as another penalty for the home side was sent into the corner by Ford. The resulting play saw Matt Banahan cap his 150th Club appearance with a try in the corner after some lovely handling from the backline. Ford skewed his touchline conversion, but Bath led 10-0. In the build-up to the try, Mogliano also had number 8, Thorleif Halvorsen sin binned, seeing them play with a man down for the next 10 minutes.
From the restart, Bath made their additional man advantage count and after some great work by Kyle Eastmond and Leroy Houston, Matt Garvey had the easiest of finishes to notch up the third try of the afternoon as he strolled over the line. The wind was not helping the kickers and Ford again nudged his effort slightly wide of the mark. 15-0.
Mogliano were spirited throughout and enjoyed a good attacking spell but it didn’t last for long. Hooper stole the lineout ball and after a break by the surging Leroy Houston and some quick feet by Kyle Eastmond, George Ford was able to finish under the posts to register the bonus point on the half hour mark. The young fly-half made no mistake this time around by adding the extras from in front of the posts. 22-0.
The Bath scrum, which has proven so effective so far this season, was in full force again as the pack marched forward towards the line. Mogliano infringed, and referee Leo Colgan awarded the penalty try to Bath. Ford was again on target with the conversion to move the score to 29-0.
Fearns looked to have got his second try of the afternoon just before half-time, but the powerful flanker just knocked on short of the line.
Half-time score: Bath Rugby 29 – Rugby Mogliano 0.
The second half started with as much pace as was seen in the first, and the next score came just as quickly. Banahan touched down over the whitewash for his second score of the day following some great work by Eastmond and Martin Roberts in the build-up. Ford was once again on song with the extras. 36-0.
Bath were showing no mercy and some lovely work by young Ollie Devoto in the midfield saw Fearns finally register his second of the afternoon. Ford converted to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 43-0.
Another yellow card for Mogliano, this time for replacement Simone Ferrari, did little to help matters. Starting in their own 22, quick ball from Roberts to replacement Tom Heathcote saw the young Scot race up half the pitch before offloading to Olly Woodburn who finished in the corner. Heathcote’s first attempt at goal went wide, leaving the score at 48-0.
Woodburn was the next Bath player to notch up a brace of tries with an easy finish after another strong drive by the forwards near the line. There was no conversion, but Bath had broken the fifty point barrier. 53-0.
Banahan completed his hat-trick in the last ten minutes to round off his landmark appearance, touching down after another carving run from Eastmond saw Woodburn take play close to the line. The giant winger then dotted the ball down from close range. 58-0.
Not content with a hat-trick, Banahan went on to score his fourth of the afternoon as the game drew to a close. A perfectly weighted chip ahead by the Jersey winger was skilfully gathered and touched down, much to the crowd’s appreciation.
Final score: Bath Rugby 63 Rugby Mogliano 0
28TH DECEMBER 2013 NORTHAMPTON V BATH
Bath Rugby’s 11 game winning run came to an end in a fiercely contested encounter between the teams lying in second and third place in the Aviva Premiership at Franklin’s Gardens, with Northampton Saints securing a 43-25 win.
The start to the game was disrupted after referee Luke Pearce got caught up in play and suffered a nasty looking cut. This meant he couldn’t continue and after a delay, he was replaced by Martin Fox.
When play re-started, it was Bath who were out of the blocks first. A powerful shunt by the forwards earned the penalty and a first shot at goal for George Ford. The young fly-half made no mistake with his kick. 0-3.
Minutes later, a seering run by Anthony Watson along the left touchline split the Saints defence and the flying Kyle Eastmond followed up in support to finish a great move. Ford slotted the easy conversion. 0-10.
The Bath scrum looked to be in full force as Saints again infringed leaving Ford with another opportunity to kick at goal. 0-13.
However, Saints went straight back on the attack and despite a booming hit on Hartley by Louw, Bath were penalised at the breakdown. The home side’s ambition was clear as Myler kicked for the corner and Saints thought they’d scored from the resulting maul, but referee Fox ruled the try out after a quick consultation with the TMO.
With the pressure now very much on the visitors, Bath soon found themselves down to fourteen men as Paul James was sent to the bin having adjudged to have collapsed a maul. Myler again kicked for the corner and after sustained pressure on the Bath line, Christian Day dived over unopposed in the corner. Myler was on target with a tricky touchline conversion to move Saints back within a score of the visitors. 7-13.
Saints continued their pressure, and a pin-point crossfield kick from Myler found Elliot, and a quick pass to George Pisi saw the centre crash over. Myler was again accurate with the boot to give his side the lead for the first time in the match. 14-13, after 30 minutes played.
With the momentum with the home side, another attacking lineout, followed by some quick play from the backs, spread the Bath defence too wide and Jamie Elliott touched down in the corner. Myler converted to move the score to 21-13 with only minutes of the first-half remaining.
Half-time: Northampton Saints 21 – Bath Rugby 13.
Saints started the second half exactly how they ended the first, with Day going on over for his second try of the game. Bath were caught cold in defence and the lock bundled his way over from close range to secure the bonus point for Saints. Myler again split the posts with his conversion to move his side further in front. 28-13.
Bath were still fighting though, and were straight back on the attack. They came close to scoring after a perfectly weighted crossfield kick by Eastmond was narrowly missed by Agulla as George North hacked the ball to safety.
The resulting scrum led to sustained pressure on the Saints 5m line, which eventually resulted in Rob Webber bundling over from close range. Ford was unlucky to nudge a tricky conversion just wide of the mark. 28-18.
The home side were still working hard to find gaps in the Bath defence and after several phases of pressure, Samu Manoa found his way over the try line. Myler’s conversion attempt bounced back off the uprights. 33-18.
Neither side was showing any let up in an incredibly physical encounter. An electric break by Jonathan Joseph saw him chip ahead and put him one on one with replacement Tom Collins. The chip ran long, and forced the Saints fullback to touch the ball down over his own line.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, another powerful scrum by the Bath forwards was grounded by replacement Leroy Houston leaving Ford with a straight forward conversion. 33-25.
In the closing stages, a penalty at the breakdown went the way of the home side and Myler was again accurate with the boot to edge his side even further clear. 35-25.
With time up on the clock, Bath had no option but to run a penalty from inside their own half as they went in search of both a losing and try scoring bonus point.
However, the ball was lost allowing George North to run in unopposed to seal the win for his side and deny a courageous Bath effort.
Final score: Northampton Saints 43 – Bath Rugby 25
5th JANUARY 2014 LEICESTER V BATH
Bath Rugby started the New Year with a 27-27 draw at Welford Road, after old foes Leicester Tigers fought back to score in the last minute through Jamie Gibson.
A bitterly cold but dry day saw both sides chasing wins to cement their place in the top four.
In a cagey first ten minutes, it was the home side who mounted the first real attack of the game. After patient build-up play, the Bath defence was finally stretched too far and winger Miles Benjamin crashed over in the corner. Owen Williams couldn’t convert from a tricky angle to leave the score 5-0. Minutes later, Bath were pinged at the breakdown giving Williams an easy shot at goal. He made no mistake to take the score to 8-0.
From a line-out in their own half, Bath went on the attack after some quick hands through the backline, Nick Abendanon spotted a gap in the Tigers’ defence, finding the flying Anthony Watson in support who broke through for the score. George Ford, returning to his former club for the first time, was on target with his first kick at goal. 8-7.
The visitors followed it up shortly after with another well worked team try. A jinking break from Kyle Eastmond in the centre split the Tigers defence, with Ford working hard in support to keep the move alive. The fly-half found Francois Louw who replicated his try scoring heroics from last season to acrobatically dive over the line. Ford again made no mistake with the conversion. 8-14.
Leicester hit straight back with a penalty after Bath infringed at the lineout, Williams adding the three points to keep his side’s score ticking over.
A fast-paced first half was showing no sign of letting up and when Tigers were penalised for pulling down a maul on the half hour mark, Ford elected to have a shot at the posts, opening up a six point gap. 11-17.
Leicester enjoyed an attacking spell in the Bath 22 but after some big tackles it was the visitors who were awarded the penalty and the chance to clear their lines. However the home side were undeterred and with less than five minutes left of the half, Williams had another penalty opportunity. Having missed his previous effort, this time he found his mark to take the score to 14-17.
With the first half drawing to a close, it was the visitors who were to have the final say when a late tackle gave Ford another shot at goal from 45 metres out. Another clean strike saw the ball sailing through the posts, and meant Bath went in at the interval with a seven point lead.
Half-time score Leicester Tigers 14 – Bath Rugby 20
It was Leicester who started the second half the brightest and when Bath were pinged for wheeling a scrum, Williams found his range with a kick from distance to draw the Tigers closer. 17-20.
Bath’s attacking intent was clear though when Ford was given the order to kick for the corner rather than at goal when the penalty was given. The drive resulting from the line-out five metres from the line couldn’t quite go the distance as Anthony Perenise was held just short, but a strong scrum pushed Bath tantalisingly close. The ball was recycled quickly across the field, and some quick hands found Jonathan Joseph within range. The centre powered towards the line, and stretched to score, despite the pressure from the tackling Tigers. After a quick check with the TMO, referee JP Doyle awarded the try and Ford was left with an easy conversion in front of the post, from which he made no mistake. 17-27.
As the game went into the last quarter, Tigers were pressing hard, and Bath were having to be resilient. A yellow card to Stuart Hooper saw the visitors go down to 14men, but Leicester couldn’t make the pressure count and conceded a penalty. Ford booted clear much to the temporary relief of the players and travelling Bath support.
Buoyed on by the home support, Leicester kept up the pressure and the man advantage eventually paid dividends with replacement Thomas Waldrom burrowing over from close range. Williams couldn’t add the extras, so the score remained 22-27.
A nail-biting last ten minutes followed, as Tigers continued to attack, knowing that a try and conversion would seal the win. They hammered away at the tryline, and Bath’s brave defence eventually came undone with Gibson scoring in the corner. With the scores tied at 27 a piece, it was left to Williams to land the conversion. From a tricky angle he couldn’t quite find the target leaving these two great rivals having to share the spoils.
Final score: Leicester Tigers 27 – Bath Rugby 27.
11TH JANUARY 2014 NEWPORT V BATH
Bath Rugby remain unbeaten in their Amlin Challenge Cup pool after a convincing 13-30 win against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade this afternoon.
Micky Young opened Bath’s account, sniping over for a try on six minutes after some powerful runs from Dominic Day and Ollie Devoto into Dragons’ 22. Heathcote converted to make it 0-7 to the visitors.
Minutes later, Heathcote landed another successful kick at goal, this time from a penalty – Bath leading 0-10 with eleven minutes gone.
Heathcote was at the heart of Bath’s next try when he looked up and saw nobody at home, his wise chip over the defence pounced on by a flying Tom Biggs. The conversion was wide, however, but Bath were now 0-15 ahead with only 15 minutes gone.
In the 24th minute, the visitors conceded a penalty within kickable distance for replacement Dragons fly-half Steffan Jones, whose effort made it 3-15. But less than three minutes later Mat Gilbert scored under the posts after some frantic phases of play from Bath, and Heathcote’s extras gave Bath a healthy 19-point lead.
Leroy Houston, so effective throughout, got his name on the scoresheet just after the half-hour mark after Bath had spread the ball wide following some effective hit-ups from the forward pack. It meant that Bath had the all-important try bonus point before the half-time whistle had blown.
Following Houston’s try, the only points scored before the interval came from a Dragons penalty kick four minutes before time.
Half time: Newport Gwent Dragons 6 – Bath Rugby 27
The second half was a considerably more defensive affair for Bath, as Dragons sought to attack again and again, spurning opportunities at goal in the process.
This tactic paid off nine minutes in, as some heroic Bath defence finally gave way to a Nic Cudd try, the flanker’s score converted by Jones. At 13-30, Dragons might have sensed the slightest chance of a bounceback, but Bath responded only minutes later through a Heathcote penalty. 13-30.
A raft of replacements were then made by both sides, but Bath held the momentum to keep the lively Dragons scoreless for the remainder of the match; a momentum they will hope to take into Thursday’s European clash with Bordeaux Begles at the Rec.
Full time: Newport Gwent Dragons 13 – Bath Rugby 30
16th JANUARY 2014 BATH V BORDEAUX BEGLES
Bath Rugby tonight confirmed their position as number one seeds in the Amlin Challenge Cup with an impressive eight-try, 54-13 win against Bordeaux Begles at the Rec.
The visitors didn’t make the perfect start, knocking on in the process of chasing their kick-off. In contrast, Bath, now in possession, delivered the ball to Anthony Watson whose scything run from inside his own 22 only ended when he popped the ball inside for the supporting Tom Biggs to score from 10 metres out. The try, scored within 2 minutes, was converted by George Ford. 7-0.
With five minutes on the clock, Bath failed to roll away from a ruck in their half, and Bordeaux Begles’ Manu Saubusse punished the indiscretion with a penalty kick to bring it back to 7-3. It was to be the first of two penalties the scrum-half would score within two minutes, his second a powerful effort from inside his own half. 7-6.
After Ford had gained good territory for Bath through his boot, the forwards took over. An angled run by Dom Day brought the tryline within the home side’s grasp. The ball was shipped to Ford, who jinked his way over for his team’s second try. Ford converted his own score, and Bath led 14-6.
Three minutes were left before half time, and with Bath plugging away at Bordeaux Begles’ line, Leroy Houston spotted Anthony Perenise loitering with intent on the right wing. The number eight threw a perfect cut-out pass to the tighthead, who spun out of the tackle and fended off the defender to score Bath’s third try. Ford crafted a great conversion to make it 21-6, which is the how the first half remained.
Half time: Bath Rugby 21 – Bordeaux Begles 6
On 45 minutes, a well-won Bath lineout enabled Ford to pop a quick ball to Jonathan Joseph. The outside centre handed off Bordeaux 12 Jean-Baptiste Lamotte and accelerated from 25 metres out to score the much-needed fourth try for Bath, which Ford converted. 28-6.
Only minutes later, the Bordeaux Begles fullback spilled the ball in his 22. The galloping Day took advantage of the mistake and swept up the ball for Bath’s fifth try. Ford’s conversion made it 35-6.
Near the hour mark, the returning Semesa Rokoduguni –moments after bouncing off two would-be defenders– received the ball on the halfway line. After outpacing the cover defence, the wing stepped inside the opposition fullback for a try in his first match since November. Ford added the extras and Bath were now in a commanding 42-6 lead.
Nathan Catt, not to be outdone by his teammates in the backs, dashed 50 yards upfield, the ball eventually falling into the hands of Kyle Eastmond to score Bath’s seventh try of the evening on 64 minutes. The conversion was wide, but Bath still had much to show for their efforts at 47-6.
Bordeaux Begles scored a consolation try with three minutes left, Gilem Queheille chipping over the top and catching the ball to score with a great piece of skill. They claimed the conversion, and with only two minutes remaining, the game seemed to be coming to an end. 47-13.
Peter Stringer, making his 101st appearance in European rugby, had other ideas. Sniping around the scrum, he unleashed Rokoduguni, who made a challenging try look easy and in the process scored his second brace in as many games. Banahan’s successful drop-goal conversion topped off a try-filled evening for Bath, and a job well done.
Bath now wait to discover who they face in a home quarter-final in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Full time: Bath Rugby 57 – Bordeaux Begles 13
25TH JANUARY 2014 BATH V CARDIFF BLUES
Bath Rugby secured their place in the semi-finals of the LV=Cup with a hard-fought, bonus point 24-13 victory against Cardiff Blues at the Rec this afternoon.
When Bath were deemed to have wheeled the scrum with five minutes gone, it offered the Blues a straightforward shot a goal which fly-half Simon Humberstone succeeded with to score the first points of the match. 0-3.
The home side weren’t long in responding however, and three minutes later Bath’s impressive maul enabled Alafoti Fa’osiliva to touch down. The conversion dragged wide, but Bath now led 5-3.
With under a quarter of an hour left in the first half, Bath once more utilised their potent driving maul to good effect – this time with Micky Young the beneficiary as he sniped over for the try. Heathcote added the extras to make it 12-3.
On 35 minutes, Humberstone landed a penalty from in front of the Bath posts to double the Blues’ points tally. 12-6.
Bath spent most of the final five minutes of the half in Blues territory, but a vital scrum on the visitors’ five metre line came to nothing as the ball rebounded into Blues hands. Scrum-half Lewis Evans kicked the ball dead to draw the curtain on the first half.
Half time: Bath Rugby 12 – Cardiff Blues 6
Ten minutes into the second half, replacement Gavin Henson crashed over for Bath’s third try of the match after some patient build-up. Heathcote’s conversion then made the score 19-6.
Following that try, Bath started to take control of the game, denying the Blues any momentum, and on 76 minutes the visitors failed to deal with another powerful driving maul from the home side, leading to replacement flanker Guy Mercer touching down for the bonus point try.
Despite Heathcote’s conversion striking the post, Bath now held an 18-point lead. However, the visitors responded through Dan Fish as he carved his way through to score the first try of the match for the Blues. Humberstone duly converted to bring the Blues within nine points of Bath. 24-13.
Cardiff tried to build some momentum in the closing minutes of the game but couldn’t find a way through the stubborn home defence, and as time was up on the clock, referee Dean Richards brought the game to a close, guaranteeing Bath qualification to the knock-out stages of another tournament.
Final score: Bath Rugby 24 – Cardiff Blues 13.
3RD FEBRUARY 2014 LEICESTER V BATH
Bath Rugby tonight earned an LV= Cup home semi-final in some style after seeing off Leicester Tigers 17-35 at Welford Road.
Bath set out their stall in the first minute, chasing their kick-off aggressively, Tigers coughing up a penalty as they came in at the ruck from the side. Henson stepped up to punish the home side’s indiscretion with a three-pointer. 0-3.
Inside those first ten minutes, Tigers struck back when, following an attacking lineout in Bath’s 22, Argetinean openside Pablo Matera broke away from the maul to score under the posts. Fly-half Owen Williams converted, and Tigers led 7-3.
Ten minutes later, in the 18th minute, former Samoa Sevens star Alafoti Fa’osaliva found himself with little room on the wing. The openside put in a last-second grubber kick from 25m out. His pace was such that Tigers had little time to react and, before they knew it, Fa’osaliva had scored. The difficult conversion was missed by Henson, but Bath now had the upper hand by a single point. 7-8.
It took Tigers only four minutes to respond. In the wet conditions, Williams had been put up some testing high balls on numerous occasions. Bath failed to gather this one sufficiently, and Leicester fullback Blaine Scully kicked the loose ball through to score his team’s second try. With Williams converting the try, it was 14-8 to the home side.
Bath’s battling scrum enabled them to draw closer only two minutes after Scully’s try, when they were given a penalty which Henson promptly punted without hesitation to make it 14-11.
With just over half an hour gone, Tigers successfully kicked a penalty after Bath were deemed to have collapsed the scrum, extending their lead to 17-11.
With minutes remaining in the first half, Bath were desperate to finish it on a high. Tom Biggs received the ball out wide just inside Tigers’ half, interlinking well with Matt Banahan, who threw a basketball pass to the oncoming Leroy Houston. The number eight came within a whisker of scoring himself, but Stringer quickly recycled the ball out wide for Banahan to finish the move he’d helped create. Henson converted, and Bath saw out the first half 17-18.
Half time: Leicester Tigers 17 – Bath Rugby 18
The opening to the second half was a tense affair, with the aerial battle to the fore – both sides daring the other to run the ball in the pouring rain. 13 minutes on, it was Bath who profited first from playing it tight, their scrum winning them a penalty which Henson saw home. 17-21.
Tigers made a costly error near the hour mark, knocking the ball on from their lineout on their own 5m line. Bath’s forwards marched patiently forward, before unleashing replacement number eight Carl Fearns, whose yards gained enabled Stringer to put over Ollie Devoto from short distance. Henson converted. 17-28.
Fearns was soon rewarded for the damage he’d wrought in the loose. Ten minutes from time, Bath’s pack had positioned themselves well in the Tigers’ 22, and from their destructive maul emerged Fearns, who strolled over to score Bath’s fifth and final try. The on-form Henson converted once more. 17-35.
Leicester hammered away at Bath in the final ten minutes of the match, but came up against a determined and stubborn defence, which eventually saw referee Wayne Barnes award the visitors the penalty which finished the match.
Final score: Leicester Tigers 17 – Bath Rugby 35
8TH FEBRUARY 2014 BATH V NEWCASTLE
A strong finish from Bath Rugby saw them beat a tenacious Newcastle Falcons side 24-6 at the Rec this afternoon.
A straightforward penalty kick from George Ford got Bath on the scoreboard first after a scrum on fifteen minutes was edged by the home side, making it 3-0. It was to be Bath’s only points in the first 40 minutes, with two other attempts failing in the strong wind.
The first half was a flurry of Bath attack and an onslaught of Falcons defence, neither of which were helped by the wind and rain.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Falcons fly-half Phil Godman converted a penalty to bring the scores level at 3-3.
Half time: Bath Rugby 3 – Newcastle Falcons 3
Three minutes into the second half, Bath were penalised for not releasing a Falcons player in the tackle, and Godman’s penalty kick gave the visitors the lead for the first and only time in the match.
With almost 50 minutes on the clock, Ford found himself in very little space with the ball in hand in the Falcons half. The fleet-footed fly-half sidestepped then fended his way through two would-be tacklers, before popping to replacement wing Horacio Agulla, who ran in under the posts for the first try of the match. Ford converted the Argentinean’s effort to give Bath a four-point lead. 10-6.
Ford was at the heart of his side’s next try when his penalty kick from hand inside Bath’s half found touch on Falcons’ 5m line. The ball was slung wide from the lineout that followed, before coming back inside to Nathan Catt. The loosehead showed commendable footwork to go close himself, before Leroy Houston received the ball to dive under the posts for his side’s second try in five minutes. The conversion from Ford made it 17-6.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the match that Bath – having sent wave after wave of attack into the Falcons’ red zone – at last scored their third try. A Bath lineout on Newcastle’s 22 saw the ball recycled quickly enough to create panic amongst the visiting defence. Francois Louw profited from the scrambling defence to go over for the try, which Ford converted from in front of the post.
Final score: Bath Rugby 24 – Newcastle Falcons 6
15th FEBRUARY 2014 EXETER V BATH
The West Country rivalry between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs was taken to another level this afternoon as the visitors to Sandy Park battled to a thrilling 23-27 victory.
The first points were scored by Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson, whose simple penalty kick made it 3-0 when Bath were found guilty of holding on in front of their posts after ten minutes of play.
Three minutes later, Chiefs went off their feet at the ruck, and Ford punished the indiscretion with a three-pointer out wide. 3-3.
With almost half an hour played, Ford shimmied outside the rush defence, then popped the ball to the oncoming Kyle Eastmond who found centre partner Ollie Devoto on his shoulder. Devoto, still with much to do, raced to touch down under the posts for his first Premiership try. Ford converted, and Bath now led 3-10.
Straight after the re-start, Devoto looked to be away once more, but Bath were turned over and Chiefs kicked the ball deep. The retreating Bath backs had little time to react, and were penalised close enough to their own posts for Steenson’s kick to be a foregone conclusion. 6-10.
It was in the final minute of the first half that Chiefs got some reward for all their possession and territory, the TMO judging that Ben White’s close-range effort was indeed a try. Steenson added the conversion, with the home side heading into the changing rooms 13-10 in the lead at half time.
Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 13 – Bath Rugby 10
A difficult first half at scrum time for Bath was compounded four minutes into the second act of the match, when a collapse at the set-piece went Exeter’s way. Steenson converted the penalty to take Chiefs six points clear. 16-10.
The momentum had clearly been on the home team’s side so far in the match, until the 54th minute, when a supremely patient Bath attack worked its way from its own 22 into the opposition’s. It was Eastmond who finally touched down for Bath, but it was the entire team which had started to click, Ford’s extras giving them a one-point lead. 16-17.
Almost ten minutes after that well-worked try, Ford took the ball to the defence in his own half, then set free replacement fullback Nick Abendanon. In full flight and with little space, Abendanon chipped and chased, getting a fingertip to the ball over Exeter’s line for an all-important try for Bath. Ford made no mistake, and slotted the conversion. 16-24.
The eight-point gap wasn’t to last, however, as Exeter themselves went through the phases after the restart, stretching Bath’s defence before enabling outside centre Ian Whitten to score, which Steenson converted. 23-24.
There was a one-point difference once more, and again Exeter sought to hit the ball up in order to get precious territory from which they might get the winning kick. That was until the player in possession of the ball went unwisely for the gap between replacement centre Gavin Henson and Francois Louw. The flanker took the man and Henson stripped the ball, which Bath promptly hoofed downfield.
Abendanon had the immediate foresight to chase the kick, tackling the defender and getting to his feet to secure the penalty for holding on. Now Bath had the territorial advantage, and from the lineout in Exeter’s 22 the visitors got a penalty with less than a minute on the clock. The three points from Ford’s boot made it a 100% kicking effort for the talismanic fly-half and ensured it would be a match that will live long in the memory for rugby fans.
Final score: Exeter Chiefs 23-27 Bath Rugby
22ND FEBRUARY 2014 BATH V WASPS
Bath Rugby battled to a bonus point win over London Wasps this afternoon in a seven try thriller at the Recreation Ground, final score 32-25.
The home side started well, and some strong early pressure saw them awarded a penalty, which Tom Heathcote duly sent between the posts. He had a chance to double the lead minutes later, but the shot drifted wide. 3-0.
The first try of the game came about five minutes later, after a strong scrum from Bath set the backs flying. Nick Abendanon took the ball forward and offloaded quickly to Kyle Eastmond, who in turn found Anthony Watson outside him. The winger evaded the covering defender to touch down out wide. 8-0.
Wasps got back into the game with two successive penalties from Joe Carlisle, but Heathcote extended the lead to five points with a shot on target of his own.
The visitors looked dangerous on the attack, and when scrum-half Charlie Davies saw Will Helu out wide, it looked as if they would be in for a try of their own. Watson had other ideas however, deftly intercepting the ball on the Bath 22 and sprinting away to score between the posts. Heathcote added the extras to set up a 12 point lead after just under half an hour of play. 18-6.
In what was quickly becoming an absorbing game, Wasps were quick to get a try of their own. A tap penalty saw the ball go sailing through the hands and out to Nathan Hughes, who dotted down in the corner. Carlisle added the conversion. 18-13.
The see-saw nature of the game continued though, as from the kick-off the home side were scoring once more. A Wasps knock-on saw Bath gain possession, and after a neat offload off the floor from Man of the Match Leroy Houston, Abendanon flew over for the try. Heathcote was on target with a tricky conversion.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 25 – London Wasps 13.
Wasps came out strong in the second half, and whilst Carlisle missed a shot at goal, winger Helu made up for it minutes later with a try. The fly-half was this time accurate with the conversion, narrowing the gap to just five points in an enthralling game. 25-20.
Bath were quickly back on the attack. Heathcote chipped over, which was gathered by replacement Peter Stringer. The scrum-half broke free and offloaded to Ollie Devoto, who then passed out the back of his hand to the supporting Eastmond. The centre stepped inside, away from the covering Wasps defence and went over for the bonus point score. Heathcote just squeezed the conversion inside the posts to add the extra two points. 32-20.
Neither side were content to just sit back, and it was the visitors who had the final score of the day as Elliot Daly worked through the gap in defence to score. 32-25.
There was nearly a fifth try for Bath, only for the TMO to rule that a knock-on had occurred under the pile of bodies on the line.
Wasps kept attacking, as they had all game, but a resolute Bath worked hard to keep them out until the final whistle, which came as Stringer sent the ball sailing into touch.
Final score: Bath Rugby 32 – London Wasps 25.
28TH FEBRUARY 2014 BATH V SARACENS
Bath Rugby’s home winning streak came to an end at the hands of the relentless Saracens this evening, the visitors prevailing 10-23.
It was a pointless affair for the first 20 minutes, until George Ford struck a penalty from in front of the posts to draw first blood. 3-0.
It took Saracens only two minutes to reply, however, as Alex Goode responded with his own penalty from slightly further out to draw the scores level. 3-3.
In the 32nd minute, Saracens had worked an overlap for themselves and wing Chris Wyles just managed to hold onto the ball to score the first try of the match. Goode converted, giving Saracens a seven-point lead. 3-10.
A fumble for Bath didn’t work out so well when, with two minutes remaining in the first half, Saracens pounced on the loose ball and kicked through. Dave Strettle ran onto the favourable bounce and touched down. Goode converted to take Saracens into half time at 3-17 up.
Half time: Bath Rugby 3 – Saracens 17
It was the laser-like accuracy of Goode’s boot that extended Saracens’ lead to 17 points as, with quarter of an hour gone in the second half, Bath’s determined defence convinced the fly-half to snap a drop goal. It sailed through the posts, making it 3-20 to the visitors.
Bath desperately needed to score some points – points which came on 72 minutes, when repeated crushing scrums from the home side on Saracens’ 5m line forced the referee to award a penalty try. Ford wasted no time in converting as Bath sought to hit back again straight away. 10-20.
As it was, Saracens were back on the scoreboard within two minutes when Anthony Watson – despite a fantastic fingertip take of a high ball – was penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground. Goode punished Bath with a further three points.
The score remained 10-23 for the rest of what was a frustrating evening for the home side.
Full time: Bath Rugby 10 – 23 Saracens
9TH MARCH 2014 BATH V EXETER
Bath Rugby’s run in the LV=Cup came to an end as they fell 19-22 at the Semi-Final stage to a determined Exeter Chiefs side.
Bath couldn’t have wished for a better start, the Chiefs’ kick-off finding Nick Abendanon, who broke through and offloaded to Horacio Agulla. The Argentine was brought down near the visitors’ tryline, but the supporting Leroy Houston was on hand to complete the scoring effort. Heathcote converted to make it 7-0 after only one minute.
Chiefs narrowed the gap to four points within the first ten minutes when fly-half Henry Slade slotted a simple penalty from in front of the post after Bath infringed at the ruck. 7-3.
Heathcote responded with a penalty of his own near the fifteen-minute mark to regain that seven-point buffer. 10-3.
It took ten minutes for Chiefs to find a way back in. Gavin Henson had tracked back to make a try-saving tackle, but in doing so was penalised for not releasing his man. Not only was he yellow-carded, but Chiefs then took advantage of the 14-man Bath defence to score out wide through fullback Luke Arscott a minute later. Slade’s conversion attempt failed, but it was now 10-8.
Four minutes from half time, Chiefs brought down Bath’s lineout in their own half, and Heathcote showed good nerve and accuracy to strike a great penalty to take his side into the second half with a five-point lead.
Half Time: Bath Rugby 13 – Exeter Chiefs 8
Chiefs again brought down a lineout eleven minutes into the first half to give Heathcote another shot at goal. The fly-half took it, and Bath now led 16-8.
Shortly after the restart, Bath hoisted a high ball which Arscott ran onto in the midfield. Catching the defence cold, he ran in from near halfway to score under the posts. Slade converted, and now there was only one point in it. 16-15.
It was from a near-identical position that, three minutes later, replacement Chiefs wing Fetu’u Vainikolo displayed incredible strength to burst through two tackles to score under the posts in a double-blow to Bath. Slade again converted, and now the Chiefs led 16-22.
Bath clawed back in the 62nd minute through a Heathcote penalty, which made it 19-22. However, the home side were unable to capitalise on any further penalties against the visitors, with a long-range penalty effort dropping just short for Chiefs to run the ball dead.
Full Time: Bath Rugby 19 – Exeter Chiefs 22
22ND MARCH 2014 LDN IRISH V BATH
Bath Rugby got back to winning ways in style this afternoon with a bonus point away 23-44 win over London Irish.
Spurred on by the home support in the mood for a St Patricks Day Party, it was Irish who made the brighter start. James O’Conner had the chance to register the first points of the game inside the first 10 minutes, but his kick drifted wayward allowing Bath to clear their lines.
The home side’s momentum was then disrupted as prop Matt Parr was sent to the bin for holding back a rampaging Semesa Rokoduguni as he looked to charge forward on a loose ball.
Patient build-up play by Bath eventually led to Irish conceding the penalty at the breakdown after a powerful maul. Fresh from England duty, George Ford slotted the straightforward kick to score the first points of the match after 20 minutes. 0-3.
Irish hit straight back though when Bath were penalised for pulling down the scrum and this time, O’Conner was on target with his kick. 3-3.
Some good work from Anthony Watson, followed by a booming box kick by Ford, paid dividends for the visitors and after some great pressure from Rokoduguni, Irish conceded the penalty. Ford kept his cool and slotted another three points. 3-6.
With 10 minutes until half-time, a thunderous rolling maul from Irish saw them barrel their way towards the Bath line. Topsy Ojo emerged as the scorer from under a pile of bodies as O’Conner converted to move the home side into the lead for the first time in the match. 10-6
Bath were not deterred and a sublime team move from the re-start allowed the back line to turn on the pace and Kyle Eastmond dived over in the corner, after a neat pass from Nick Abendanon. 10-11.
In a nervy end to the first-half, Ford and O’Connor exchanged two more penalties, with Ford having the last word on the stroke of half-time to nudge the visitors back into the lead.
Half-time: London Irish 13 – Bath Rugby 14
Irish started the second-half with the same attacking tenacity as they had in the first, but Bath soon began to find their stride. Watson danced past three defenders, carving a brilliant attacking line that created another penalty opportunity for Ford, who made no mistake in extending the lead. 13-17.
After Ford and Geraghty traded penalties, the half came alive when Nick Abendanon darted through a gap in the Irish defence before offloading to the supporting Watson to score against his old club. Ford again split the posts with the extras. 16-27.
The metronomic right boot of Ford further increased the scoreline after a powerful Bath scrum earned yet another penalty. The fly-half was orchestrating proceedings beautifully and as Watson punctured the Irish defence, a few quick phases later, David Wilson crashed over under the posts leaving Ford with simplest of conversions. 16-37.
The home side kept trying to come at Bath, and as the final 10 minutes ticked away, the visitors were forced to play defensively. Irish made their possession count as replacement Chris Hala’Ufia barged his way over from close range. A quick conversion by O’Conner set up an exciting finish as Irish sensed a losing bonus point.
However, momentum switched once more as Irish skipper George Skivington was sent to the sin-bin with two minutes left on the clock. Bath, looking for a bonus point of their own, powered their way up field and were soon rewarded as Matt Garvey bulldozed over the whitewash to score the all-important fourth try, and leave Man of the Match Ford with a straightforward conversion.
Final score: London Irish 23 – Bath Rugby 44
28TH MARCH 2014 BATH V SALE
Sale Sharks inflicted a second consecutive home defeat on a desperately unlucky Bath Rugby at the Rec, edging a tight encounter 11-12 on a rain-soaked evening in the city.
Sale notched up their first points on six minutes, when Bath were penalised for illegal entry at the ruck. Fly-half Danny Cipriani slotted the penalty from in front of the posts to make it 0-3 to Sale.
After some inspired attacking work by George Ford and Nick Abendanon caused panic in the Sale defence, Bath were awarded a penalty as the visitors strayed offside. The resultant penalty from Ford drew the scores level with just over eleven minutes on the clock. 3-3.
When Bath were penalised for a high tackle in the 17th minute, Cipriani took the lead for Sale again with another successful three-pointer. 3-6.
Five minutes later, Cipriani struck a third successful penalty from a similar position after Bath were pinged at the scrum to extend Sale’s lead to 3-9.
On 33 minutes, Bath were granted a way back in as a Sale player failed to retreat onside. Ford got his team back to within three points with a well-struck penalty. 6-9.
With minutes to go in the first half, Bath had an opportunity to equalise with Sale after Sharks openside Dave Seymour was punished for not rolling away. Ford’s attempt at goal failed, however, and it was Sale who went in at half time with a three-point lead.
Half time: Bath Rugby 6 – Sale Sharks 9
As with the first half, it took Sale only six minutes to get on the scoreboard in the second. Bath, penalised for diving in at the ruck, were made to pay as Cipriani continued with his fine kicking form. 6-12.
With an hour gone, outstanding strength from Matt Garvey at the breakdown signalled Bath’s first chance of points in the second half, but Ford’s penalty kick was marginally wide.
Bath exerted great pressure on Sale’s scrum on the visitors’ 5m line, reverting the put-in to the home team. Again, the men in Blue, Black and White dominated, forcing Sale to concede another penalty. A TMO ruled out a try from Leroy Houston from the move that followed, before Sale were penalised again at the reset scrum.
After Sharks were pinged on five consecutive occasions, Bath-bound replacement prop Henry Thomas was sin-binned, but the referee still called for another scrum rather than a penalty try to the home side. Sale were penalised a sixth time at the scrum, but when the seventh was set, the ball squirted out on Bath’s side and the visitors escaped imminent danger.
It was a desperate Bath that broke into Sale’s half with just over five minutes left, but their driving maul was assured and the TMO eventually judged Ross Batty to have touched down. Ford’s conversion attempt, however, was slightly askew, and Sale held an 11-12 lead.
Bath had two opportunities for drop goals as they attacked in the final minutes of play, but both were wide and Sale were rewarded with victory for their committed performance.
Congratulations must go to Nick Abendanon and Nathan Catt, who made their 200th and 100th appearances respectively for Bath Rugby.
Full time: Bath Rugby 11 – Sale Sharks 12
6TH APRIL 2014 BATH V BRIVE
Bath Rugby savoured a 39-7 victory against Brive at the Rec this afternoon, in a rematch of the historic 1998 Heineken Cup Final. The six-try victory takes them into the Semi-Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
It took Bath less than ten minutes to lay down their marker, as Matt Garvey sent an unattended Horacio Agulla away inside the Brive half. The livewire Argentinean found time to dummy the covering defender before slamming the ball down for his side’s first try. The conversion by Ford went wide, which meant Bath led 5-0.
Despite Bath evidently having the upper hand through the opening quarter, they didn’t have the points to show for it until the 22nd minute. A misfiring lineout by the home team was salvaged by Matt Banahan, who thundered upfield where a penalty was awarded at the resultant ruck. Ford nailed the penalty to stretch the lead to eight points. 8-0.
A quick tap penalty by Micky Young seven minutes later put Brive on the back foot, with Abendanon on hand to receive the pass from the scrum-half and score Bath’s second try. Ford converted in front of the posts. 15-0.
Semesa Rokoduguni got an opportunity to strut his stuff with just over half an hour gone, reclaiming a bouncing ball and dancing away from the Brive defence to sprint away for Bath’s third try. The missed conversion made it 20-0 to the home side.
Straight from the restart, Agulla received the ball out on his wing and showed a marvellous turn of pace to outsprint his opposite number and score his second try of the half. The difficult angle saw Ford’s conversion attempt miss, but Bath took a commanding 25-0 lead into the changing rooms at half time.
Half time: Bath Rugby 25 – Brive 0
Bath continued the second half in the same rich vein of form they’d shown in the first 40 minutes, wasting no time in gaining good yards that allowed Young to burrow over for a try after two minutes. Making no mistake this time, Ford struck the ball well to add the extra two points. 32-0.
With half an hour still to be played, Ford took the ball on halfway and popped to Abendanon. The increasingly dangerous fullback sucked in the defender, allowing the ever-present Agulla to latch onto Abendanon’s offload and score his hat-trick. Another awkward angle scuppered Ford’s conversion attempt. 39-0.
Despite failing to capitalise on plentiful possession for the remainder of the match, Bath continued to put on a magnificent display of running rugby to the obvious delight of the appreciative crowd.
Brive, in desperate need of a score to appease their visiting supporters, duly touched down after 65 minutes of trying. They did so through number eight Kieran Murphy, the competition’s top ball carrier, who lunged over from close quarters for a consolation score. Inside centre Thomas Laranjeira made an impressive conversion from the left touchline to ensure Brive made it onto the scoreboard for what was an eminently one-sided match against the men in Blue, Black and White.
Full time: Bath Rugby 39 – Brive 7
12TH APRIL 2014 GLOUCESTER V BATH
A sell-out crowd at Kingsholm were treated to a typically tense West Country derby this afternoon, as Bath Rugby claimed the local bragging rights in dramatic fashion, winning 17-18.
The home side made the most of some good early possession with Billy Twelvetrees soon getting the Cherry and Whites in front with a straightforward penalty. 3-0.
Bath soon started to get into their stride and from an attacking lineout, the forwards set a powerful driving maul rumbling right through the Gloucester 22. After a Gloucester infringement from the resulting scrum, George Ford had his first opportunity at goal and he made no mistake, drawing the visitors level after 10 minutes. 3-3
After Ford spotted a gap in the defence, a nicely weighted punt from Matt Banahan allowed the centre to charge after it and force Charlie Sharples to carry the ball back over his own line. Bath had the 5m scrum and after a big shunt and some quick passes, Horacio Agulla dotted down over the line only for the ref to rule it out for crossing in the build-up.
The game was turning into a bit of a midfield battle and with Gloucester starting to string some phases together, Bath were pinged at the breakdown. Twelvetrees was once again accurate from the tee, extending the home side’s lead. 6-3
With just over 10 minutes of the half remaining, the away side were down to 14 when Carl Fearns was sent to the bin and Twelvetrees kicked the resulting penalty to further extend his teams lead. Despite being a man down, Bath continued to attack and were rewarded with a penalty, which Ford duly converted with less than five minutes of the half to play. 9-6
With the clock ticking down on the first-half, Bath were restored to 15 men with the return of Fearns, only to go back to 14 a minute later with Matt Garvey being shown yellow for an apparent high tackle.
Half-time: Gloucester Rugby 9 – Bath Rugby 6
Despite being a man down, Bath started the brighter of the two teams after the break. Ford was unsuccessful with an early penalty opportunity but the visitors were mounting some good attacking phases. Sniping runs by both Kyle Eastmond and Banahan had the Gloucester defence scrambling and Ford was unlucky to hit the post with a drop goal.
With the game evenly balanced, Gloucester replacement prop Sila Puafisi was shown a straight red card after a dangerous tackle on Abendanon as the fullback looked to make another scything run through the defence.
Bath were quick to take advantage, with a quick catch and drive at the line-out, a huge surge towards the line and Club captain Stuart Hooper emerging from under a pile of bodies to claim the all-important try to give Bath the lead for the first time in the game. 9-11.
The red card meant uncontested scrums for the remainder of the game, and Twelvetrees nudged the home side back in front with a penalty from inside his own half when Dave Attwood was the third Bath player to be sent to the sin-bin. 12-11.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Gloucester found the breakthrough that had been building as centre Henry Trinder scampered over to score much to a jubilant Kingsholm’s delight. Twelvetrees skewed his conversion attempt wide to set up an extremely tense final few moments. 17-11.
Bath were not deterred and when Abendanon made a blistering break through midfield, he was pulled down agonisingly close to the line. Gloucester then lost Tindall and Edmonds in quick succession to yet more yellow cards, but Bath were doing all they could to break down a stubborn defence as they chased the win.
With less than two minutes to play, a lineout saw another big drive from the Bath pack and Gloucester were left with no options to infringe, and referee Wigglesworth awarded the penalty try. Ford added the simple extra two points to move Bath into the lead with less than 60 seconds left on the clock, as Gloucester had replacement scrum-half Tavis Knoyle sent-off for throwing a punch. 17-18.
With a penalty awarded for the red card, Bath re-started and Ford kicked to touch. Bath secured the lineout ball, and as time was dead on the clock Peter Stringer sent the ball sailing in to touch to end the game and seal the victory for Bath.
Final score: Gloucester Rugby 17 – Bath Rugby 18.
28TH APRIL 2014 WASPS V BATH
Bath Rugby sealed their place in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final this afternoon after a closely fought encounter against London Wasps, final score 18-24.
The away side emerged the victors to book their place in the final for the first time since 2008.
It was Wasps who registered the first points of the match through the assured boot of Andy Goode with an early penalty just inside the 22, after Bath were penalised at the scrum. 3-0.
Bath started to find their feet in the game, stringing a couple of decent phases of play together and after a promising attacking spell in the Wasps 22, Ford levelled the scores after a Wasps infringement in the maul. 3-3.
Just minutes later, Wasps had another penalty opportunity in front of the posts as Bath were judged to be guilty of not rolling away. Goode made no mistake to nudge Wasps back in the lead after 15 minutes of play. 6-3.
The visitors took the lead soon after though. After Ford found touch in the corner with a superb kick, the ball was thrown to the back of the lineout, which set the foundations for a big powerful drive towards the line. Anthony Perenise crashed over to emerge as the scorer and Ford nailed the conversion. 6-10.
Both teams were trying to play fast, expansive rugby, with some big hits being made across the park making it an entertaining encounter for both sets of supporters.
A clever chip through from centre Elliot Daly forced a defensive lineout 5m from the Bath try line. Hooper secured the ball and although Stringer’s attempted clearance was charged down, Ford cleared the ball with the 22 dropout. His kick went only as far as Daly and Will Helu though, and the two combined to send the winger in under the posts. Goode converted in the last act of half as Wasps went into the break with a slender lead.
Half-time score: London Wasps 13 Bath Rugby 10
Wasps came racing out of the blocks in the second half as they looked to build on the momentum gained before the break. After quick hands across the back line, they thought they had scored their second try through Kearnan Myall, but after a quick consultation with the TMO, referee Roman Poite ruled it out due to a forward pass in the build-up.
With the momentum swinging from team to team throughout the game, a moment of quick thinking by 98 times capped Peter Stringer, spotted a gap and a pin-point grubber kick went out into touch on the Wasps 5m line. Wasps hooker Carlo Festuccia overthrew the ball, missing the jumper and instead finding the grateful hands of former Wasps Rob Webber, who swooped on the ball to score the try near the posts, leaving Ford with a straightforward conversion. 13-17.
Bath looked to further extend their lead but the Wasps defence held firm with a series of promising attacking phases for the away team coming to nothing. However, the pressure paid off and after another lineout, safely gathered by Hooper, another powerful Bath maul was only going in one direction, gathering pace all the time and eventually Webber crashed over to notch up his second try of the game. Ford once again converted with just over 20 minutes of the second half played. 13-24.
Bouyed on by their home support, Wasps immediately stepped back on the attack. The intent was clear when Goode passed up a kickable shot at goal to instead send the ball to the corner for a 5m lineout. This time around, despite a gallant defensive effort, Wasps proved too strong and after a consultation with the TMO, flanker Ashley Johnson was awarded the try. Goode missed the conversion, but Wasps had their tails up and the comeback was on. 18-24.
Straight from the re-start, replacement Anthony Watson looked to have won the ball and a searing break from the young back had the Wasps defence scrambling. The ball was worked quickly through the hands to Jonathan Joseph, who thought he’d scored a great try, only for Poite to reverse his decision on consultation with the TMO – Watson had knocked the ball on earlier in play, and so the try was disallowed.
A nervy last ten minutes followed for Bath as phase after phase of attack from Wasps threatened to puncture the defence at any moment, and with Kyle Eastmond’s sin-binning meaning Bath were down to 14 men, it was a tense countdown for the travelling support.
With just under three minutes left, a 5m line-out to Wasps saw them practically camped on the Bath line but the visitor’s resolute efforts were rewarded with a penalty and Ford cleared the ball as far as he could into touch.
Only a minute remained on the clock as Leroy Houston rose to gather the lineout and a patient, but powerful, maul had Bath in control in the dying seconds. The maul kept rumbling but Micky Young showed no hesitation in booting the ball into the stands to book their place in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final.
Final score: London Wasps 18 Bath Rugby 24
2ND MAY 2014 BATH V NORTHAMPTON
Bath Rugby were left hurting after a last-minute penalty decision against Northampton Saints was eventually overturned to end an evenly-matched contest 19-19.
An indescretion by the home side at the opening scrum enabled Saints to take the lead through a Stephen Myler penalty. 0-3.
The name of the game throughout most of the first half was defence, punctuated by some stirring phases of attacking play from both teams. It was nearly half an hour before the scoreboard changed, Ford and Myler trading penalty kicks within three minutes of each other. 3-6.
Ford drew Bath closer with a penalty just minutes from half-time to square things up.
Half time: Bath Rugby 6 – Northampton Saints 6
Ford sent the apprehensive Bath crowd into rapture with a maverick solo effort in the 45th minute, following some majestic groundwork by Leroy Houston with the ball in hand. The fly-half converted his try, giving Bath a 13-6 lead.
Myler showed some skill of his own eight minutes later, showing a cool sleight of hand to put wing Jamie Elliott in for a try, which the fly-half converted. 13-13.
Near the hour, Bath had to adapt to having three props in the front row after injuries to both hookers. Rather than merely survive, they appeared to thrive, while flanker Guy Mercer did an admirable job throwing in at the lineout.
Another penalty from Ford was just the tonic for Bath with 20 minutes left on the clock, and then with Courtney Lawes yellow-carded for Saints for tackling the man without the ball. 16-13.
With Saints equally cutting in attack as well as defence, it was impressive that Bath managed to hold them out until the 67th minute, when Myler levelled the scores at 16-16 with a penalty.
Bath looked to have edged an extremely intense match with only two minutes left to play, as Ford held his nerve to send the ball sailing through the posts from outside the Saints’ 10m. 19-16.
Alas, a minute later Bath had received a yellow card and Myler had clawed Saints back into the match. Bath then showed a remarkable desire not to let the win escape them: they reclaimed their restart and were then awarded a potentially match-winning penalty by the referee from a kickable position.
The drama intensified when the referee, after conferring with his assistant and the TMO, changed his mind about the original penalty and declared the match over.
The result sets up a mouthwatering encounter between Bath and Saints in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final on May 23rd at the Cardiff Arms Park.
Full time: Bath Rugby 19 – Northampton Saints 19