2014 2015

by BRIAN JENKINS

2014-2015

6th SEPTEMBER 2014 SALE V BATH

Bath Rugby’s 2014-15 Aviva Premiership campaign got off to a nail-biting but victorious start in Salford, as a late Semesa Rokoduguni try sealed the 20-29 win over Sale Sharks.

It was a lightening start for the visitors, as Anthony Watson went in for the side’s first try inside a minute of the kick-off. A delicate cross-field kick from George Ford was well taken by the young wing, who then danced along the touchline and broke free of the Sale defence to cross the whitewash. Ford added the conversion for an early lead. 0-7.

It looked as if another try had been scored just minutes later. Stuart Hooper took the ball cleanly at the lineout and some quick service from Peter Stringer found Leroy Houston in space. With some support from Dominic Day, the number eight burst forward and it sppeared he had touched down inside the posts. Referee JP Doyle wasn’t so sure, and consulted with the Television Match Official who ruled no try for a knock-on.

An error at the lineout from the home side created the next score for Bath, as Jonathan Joseph jinked his way through the midfield before being brought down with a high tackle, which was spotted by Doyle, and Ford succeeded with the penalty attempt to take the lead to 10 after 25 minutes.

A late challenge by Day on Danny Cipriani led to a yellow card for the lock and three points for the Sale fly-half, his side’s first of the game, but it was quickly cancelled out by another three points from Ford. 3-13.

Whilst Bath had the advantage on the scoreboard, a tight game was being played out on the field, and five minutes before half-time Sale capitalised on their man advantage, centre Mark Jennings going over from close range after the home side had pounced on a loose, bobbling ball in Bath’s 22. Cipriani added the extras, before the two fly-halves exchanged further penalties ahead of the half-time whistle.

Half-time: Sale Sharks 13 – Bath Rugby 16.

With the game evenly poised, Sale came out all guns blazing, controlling the tempo and possession for the opening ten minutes or so of the second-half. However, the stubborn Bath defence held them out, and instead it was the visitors who scored next – a stunning long range penalty from the half-way line sailing through the posts from the boot of Ford.

Bath were stringing together some good phases of attack, but with 14 minutes to go, Sale took the lead for the first time in the game. A strong forward drive ended with Mark Easter barrelling over under a pile of bodies, and Cipriani’s successful conversion added the vital two points. 20-19.

They looked to have sealed the win moments later when Michael Paterson galloped away for another try, but Doyle had spotted a forward pass in the build-up and ruled the score out.

Bath were not to be fazed however, and patiently worked themselves into good areas to attack from. After a number of phases, the ball was spun wide into the hands of Ford, who drew the defence and released Semesa Rokoduguni to power down the right touchline and through the Sale defence to dive over in the corner. Doyle consulted the TMO to be sure and awarded the try, allowing Ford to add a sublime touchline conversion. The 21 year-old fly-half secured the win moments later with another spectacular long range penalty, and whilst Sale tried to get something from the closing moments, the visiting defence stood strong.

Final score: Sale Sharks 20 – Bath Rugby 29.

 

13th SEPTEMBER 2014 BATH V LONDON WELSH

A record-breaking home crowd of 12,755 witnessed Bath Rugby make it two from two in the Aviva Premiership with an emphatic 53-26 win against London Welsh at the Rec this afternoon.

The home side scored seven tries (including a brace for both wing Semesa Rokoduguni and centre Jonathan Joseph) in the victory against the Premiership newcomers. The first came in under two minutes as scrum-half Chris Cook – in the first Premiership start of his career – touched down after enterprising work from the clever-passing George Ford and the rampant Carl Fearns. Ford converted the try he started to make it 7-0 to Bath.

If it was thought London Welsh would be a pushover after their heavy opening round loss, that thought was dispelled two minutes later, when the visitors counter-rucked in Bath’s 22 and scored through second row Pete Browne. The conversion of fly-half and captain Olly Barkley, on his first appearance at the Rec since leaving Bath in 2012, drew the scores level. 7-7.

Rokoduguni scored the first of his two tries as the opening quarter drew to a close, following quick ball out to his right wing. Ford added the extras. 14-7.

Bath had seemingly complicated their try-scoring efforts after their second try, but Joseph opted to take matters into his own hands after half an hour, chipping through and touching down. Ford then took Bath to two converted scores ahead of Welsh. 21-7.

Again, Welsh endeavoured to bounce back, this time through Stegmann, whose try was converted by Barkley. 24-14.

Ford nudged Bath further ahead on the stroke of half time with a penalty, to give the home team a 13-point lead.

Half time: Bath Rugby 27 – London Welsh 14

Six minutes into the second half, and with Bath camped on the Welsh tryline, Cook was almost tempted to send the ball wide. As it was, he had Leroy Houston on his shoulder, the number eight stepping and diving in for the try, converted by Ford. 34-14.

Welsh now seemed down and out, but one of the best tries of the match (for the neutral) was to come only moments later. Inside his own 22, Welsh wing Seb Jewell passed to his namesake Stegmann, who was somewhat isolated. Jewell wisely stepped back inside and somehow slipped a tackle which allowed him to run almost three quarters of the pitch before a series of passes saw Jewell score under the posts. Barkley converted. 34-21.

It looked like Welsh were going to score another length-of-the-field score from their 22, but it was snuffed out by Rokoduguni, who intercepted a careless pass and sprinted 20m to score. With Ford’s conversion on song, Bath now led 41-21.

On the hour mark, an overthrown lineout by Bath gave Welsh flanker Lachlan McCaffrey an easy run to the tryline. The conversion by Barkley drifted wide, and the score was now 41-26.

Rokoduguni made one of the breaks of the day with ten minutes left to play, powering through tackles to give Bath the perfect field position for the increasingly dangerous Joseph to dance over for his second – and Bath’s sixth – try. Now it was Ford’s turn to miss for the only time in the match. 46-26.

Bath were more prosaic in their final try: their strong scrum gave them a penalty from which the juggernaut Fearns dotted down under the posts. Ford stroked the ball over for the final points of the match.

Final Score: Bath Rugby 53 – 26 London Welsh

20TH SEPTEMBER 2014 BATH V LEICESTER

Bath Rugby inflicted their biggest ever defeat on Leicester Tigers in front of a record-breaking crowd of 12,817 at the Rec, scoring 45 points to Tigers’ zero.

Less than ten minutes had passed before wing Semesa Rokoduguni had scored his fourth try in three matches, his midfield quick to recycle the ball to the Bath danger man. Ford’s conversion curved delightfully through the posts. 7-0.

Bath’s pack, which had already shown glimpses of it gaining the upper hand, made good on that promise when a hefty shove earned Bath a penalty on 12 minutes. Ford rewarded his forwards with an extra three points. 10-0.

The home side’s shock-and-awe tactics continued as Bath found themselves on the scoresheet six minutes later, Jonathan Joseph piercing the Tigers defence for his side’s second try, which Ford converted. 17-0.

Fully into their stride by now, the men in Blue, Black and White were running some clever lines, their attack starting to click. Ford saw to it that the scoreboard kept ticking over with a smart drop goal just past the half-hour mark. 20-0.

That drop goal was followed by another Ford three-pointer after Bath’s scrum showed it was worth its weight in gold as it won its umpteenth penalty of the day. 23-0.

Half time: Bath Rugby 23-0 Leicester Tigers

Tigers started the opening minutes of the second half brightly, but brought down a Bath maul illegally to incur another punitive three points from Ford. 26-0.

One of the moments of the match were to come ten minutes into the second half, though, when Bath turned Tigers over inside the home 22. Joseph made to run outside his man, but instead stepped back inside two defenders and sprinted almost the length of the field before being hauled down.

Joseph’s supporting runners worked incredibly hard in support, with Eastmond the one to finally to benefit, touching down for Bath’s fifth try. Ford’s conversion rebounded off the upright. 31-0.

In the 63rd minute, replacement wing Olly Woodburn latched onto Ford’s high kick into space in Leicester’s half. Woodburn passed back inside to the oncoming Leroy Houston, who was brought down, but in doing so managed to offload back to Woodburn, who cut inside Mathew Tait to score under the posts. Ford then made it 38-0.

The coup de grace, six minutes from time, saw a fumbled Bath lineout in their own 22m become a blessing in disguise. Replacement scrum-half Peter Stringer gathered and popped to Rokoduguni. Sensing weakness in Tigers’ defence, the winger sidestepped with apparent ease the immediate defenders and strode away. The move ended with Stringer touching down and a Ford conversion ensuring Bath’s biggest victory against their East Midlands rivals.

Full time: Bath Rugby 45-0 Leicester Tigers

27th SEPTEMBER 2014 NORTHAMPTON V BATH

Bath Rugby fought back at Franklin’s Gardens this afternoon to claim a losing bonus point against the Aviva Premiership Champions, Northampton Saints, in a tight 31-24 victory for the home side.

It was advantage Northampton in the opening exchanges as a break from Ben Foden set-up a strong attacking platform. The ball was spun wide through the hands and it looked as if a certain try was about to be scored, but a deliberate knock-on from Luke Arscott left referee Tim Wigglesworth with no option but to award the home side a penalty try and show a yellow card to the fullback. Stephen Myler added the extra three with the conversion, giving the home side a 7-0 lead.

Saints maintained their early dominance – starving the visitors of any meaningful possession and making the extra man count on 15 minutes. Calum Clark was on the end of Luther Burrell’s looping pass to go over in the corner after the home side had drawn the Bath defence into the centre of the 22. Myler was again on target to add the conversion. 14-0.

20 minutes into the game and with the back up to the full complement of 15 men, Bath were finding their rhythm. A well-taken lineout led to a good period of possession with phases being built patiently inside the Saints 22. Wave after wave of attack eventually broke the staunch barriers that Saints had erected, ending with David Wilson bulldozing his way over from five metres out. George Ford was on target with his first shot at goal, reducing the deficit to seven.

The two England fly-halves traded penalties with first Myler and then Ford bisecting the posts following penalties at the scrum and the breakdown respectively. Myler had the chance to extend the lead for the home side but he dragged his final attempt of the half wide.

Half-time: Northampton Saints 17 – Bath Rugby 10

Having taken control of the opening period of the first-half, Northampton promptly did the same in the second-half. Steady work from the forwards resulted in the ball being passed out wide to Foden, who in turn fed Christian Day to crash over in the corner. Myler re-discovered his range with the conversion, 24-10.

Foden created their fourth try in a similar fashion to the first, the fullback making a searing break from deep to set-up winger George Pisi in the corner. Myler’s boot took the lead to 21 points, with 25 minutes left to play.

Just as it looked as if the hosts were going to run away with the game, Bath fought back. A neat pass from Ford created space for replacement Gavin Henson to ghost through a gap in the Northampton defence and then send a no-look pass out to Olly Woodburn. The winger sprinted away from the covering tackler and crossed for the try, and with Ford’s conversion, the visitors’ hopes were alive. 31-17.

Bath’s resurgence continued, with Kyle Eastmond, Semesa Rokoduguni and Woodburn all working hard to try and find holes in the Saints defensive wall from which they could launch an attack. A well-earned penalty was dispensed to touch by Ford, and from the resulting line-out the forwards turned on the power for a heaving driving maul. At the back was replacement prop Nick Auterac, and the young loosehead crashed down over the line. Ford was once more on target, and Bath were back within seven points.

A tense end to the game was on hand and with Bath in the ascendancy, Northampton were having to keep their guard up. Wave after wave of pressure was being forced onto the home side, with penalties being dispensed to touch as Bath searched for the vital seven points that could draw the game.

The tried and tested driving maul was once more brought into play and, as the Bath forwards powered towards the try line , it looked as if Alafoti Fa’osiliva had grounded the ball over the whitewash. With the grounding in question, Wigglesworth called on the assistance of the TMO who ruled the try out.

It didn’t deter Bath from using the closing seconds of the game to try and get the score but the Saints stood strong and the visitors had to be content with a losing bonus point.

Final score: Northampton Saints 31 – Bath Rugby 24.

 

3rd OCTOBER 2014 BATH V SARACENS

Bath Rugby ended Saracens’ unbeaten run in the Aviva Premiership at the Rec tonight, beating last season’s domestic and European finalists 21-11.

In defeating the London side, Bath also ensured that Saracens came away from the Rec with nothing following their five previous successful visits to the city. It was a fitting result too, since this was tighthead prop David Wilson’s 100th appearance for the Club.

The match was a pulsating affair from the start. Just over ten minutes had passed when eventual Man of the Match Semesa Rokoduguni received the ball on his wing, stepped opposite wing David Strettle and took the ball up. It soon found its way to Eastmond, who dashed ahead into Saracens’ half and popped inside to Jonathan Joseph to score. George Ford converted to make it 7-0.

Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson got the first points for his team with a 19th-minute penalty after a collapsed scrum Ford then watched as two penalty attempts in short succession failed shortly thereafter, but the third – from very much a similar position as the first two – was a good one. Bath now led 10-3 with almost 30 minutes played.

Five minutes before half time, fullback Alex Goode stepped up to take a penalty in front of the posts, with Hodgson receiving treatment. 10-6.

The first half was nearly up when fullback Gavin Henson launched a counterattack. Houston then carried up with Joseph in support. The ball was recycled out to the Bath wing for a near certain try, before it was deliberately knocked down by Chris Ashton. The Saracens winger was sin-binned and Ford delivered another penalty kick to the noisy Rec crowd.

Half time: Bath Rugby 13 – 6 Saracens

It was a breathless start to the second half which then erupted six minutes in. Alafoti Fa’osiliva swept through a midfield gap and thudded into his opponent. Joseph was on hand, as always, and shot out wide in Saracens’ 22, finding his midfield partner in support to finish off the move. Ford was unable to convert Eastmond’s try. 18-6.

There followed over 10 minutes of obstinate defence by the home side, with the men in Blue, Black and White having to shackle Saracens’ heavy strike runners – often in twos.

The visitors’ perseverance eventually paid off with almost an hour gone when inside centre Chris Wyles slid over in the corner. Goode failed with the conversion. 18-11.

On their restart, Bath were determined to put more room than a converted try between their opponents. They chased Ford’s kick with great speed, pressurising Saracens into a short clearance kick. From the lineout that followed, Saracens pulled down the Bath jumper, allowing Ford to extend Bath’s lead with a penalty. 21-11.

There were still 20 minutes of play left, but incredibly 21-11 is how the score remained. Bath even spurned a simple three points in order to wind down the clock – and maybe even get another score – but then knocked on with the line beckoning. A record 13,314 crowd at the Rec broke into euphoric applause as the referee eventually called time.

Full time: Bath Rugby 21 – 11 Saracens

12 OCTOBER 2014 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby battled back to secure a losing bonus point at Adams Park this afternoon having fought from 29-0 down to a final score of 29-22 against Wasps.

It was the visitors who enjoyed the more dominant opening stages of the game as they kept Wasps held back in their own 22. Patient build-up saw Anthony Watson go close before Kyle Eastmond scythed through the Wasps midfield unopposed and cantered in under the posts. However the score was ruled out by Referee JP Doyle following consultation with the TMO, and an Andy Goode penalty moments later took the lead for the home side against the run of play.

As the game developed so did Wasps’s control. Bath were working hard to string together phases but the home side kept their defence in check and forced uncharacteristic errors from their visitors. Two more penalties from the boot of Goode extended the lead further in the hosts’ favour before Leroy Houston was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Joe Simpson. With Bath down to 14 men, and missing a powerful presence in the scrum, it seemed inevitable that the next Wasps penalty would be awarded at the set-piece. Elliot Daly stepped up for the long range attempt and, following in his fly-half’s footsteps, was on target with the kick.

Half-time: Wasps 12 – Bath Rugby 0

Bath’s hopes of getting a foot-hold in the game were given another blow shortly after the second-half commenced as David Wilson followed Houston into the sin bin for a trip on Nathan Hughes. Goode took advantage of the offer of points, taking the lead to 15.

With two men down, Bath were having to work hard to keep in touch with the game. Wave upon wave of Wasps attack tested the defence, before things went from bad to worse for the visitors. Wing Christian Wade raced onto a loose ball, and looked to be within touching distance of dotting down for the try, only for replacement Micky Young to tackle him without the ball. JP Doyle immediately ran under the posts to signal the penalty try, Goode added the conversion, and Young joined Houston and Wilson on the sidelines. 22-0.

Sailosi Tagicakibau then crossed to add insult to injury for Bath, and it looked as if the game was out of the grasps of the West Country side. But then Bath started their fightback.

Jonathan Joseph led the charge, scoring with ease out wide on the left. George Ford’s conversion came back at him off the post, but the points seemed to spur the team on.

The scrum and lineout started functioning strongly, and led to the next two scores. Dave Attwood secured the lineout five metres from the try line and the ball was spread wide. Young spotted a gap and darted through, touching down between the posts. Ford added the extras with the on-target conversion.

Then Houston powered away from the base of the scrum and offloaded to Young who found replacement David Sisi in space. The back-row made no mistake close to the line. Ford converted, taking Bath within 10 points. 29-19.

As the clock ticked down, Bath retained possession, and Wasps had few answers. A strong scrum saw the pack secure another shot at goal for Ford, and the young fly-half didn’t disappoint with the long range kick. 29-22.

Bath fought valiantly to try and find a way to break through the Wasps defence, knowing that one more try would’ve led to the draw and a try bonus point. The home side had other ideas however, and controlled the last two minutes of play to wind the clock down and make sure they held on for the win. Bath had to be content with the losing bonus point.

Final score: Wasps 29 – Bath Rugby 22.

18th OCTOBER 2014 GLASGOW V BATH

Bath Rugby suffered a 37-10 defeat at the hands of Guinness Pro12 high-flyers Glasgow Warriors in the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup this afternoon.

The free-flowing nature of both teams was evident from the off-set, and although a penalty from George Ford after three minutes gave the visitors an early lead, it was Glasgow who crossed the try-line first.

A break down the left wing from Tommy Seymour gave the Warriors a strong position from which to attack. They drew the defence in tight before spinning the ball to Mark Bennett who was in support in the midfield. The centre jinked his way through and touched down between the posts. Duncan Weir added the conversion. 7-3.

But the Glasgow lead was short-lived. A strong lineout from Bath saw Ford send the ball high into the air to test the back three. Stuart Hogg failed to gather the ball, and the on-coming Jonathan Joseph was on hand to hack ahead and score. Ford added the extras. 10-3.

With just under a quarter of the game played pressure from Glasgow led to two quick penalties against the visitors. Weir sent both through the posts, swinging the scoreboard back into the Warriors’ favour.

The home side capitalised on the shift in momentum. A well taken high ball saw play shifted quickly out wide by Glasgow, spreading the Bath defence and allowing the international duo of Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg to combine. Hogg drew the last man in defence and offloaded to Maitland who powered over the line. 18-10.

A free-kick awarded at the scrum in Bath’s 22 and some quick-thinking from Henry Pyrgos led to the next score for the home side. The scrum-half tapped and went, sniping away from the base of the scrum. His pass found the ever-dangerous Seymour who flew over in the corner, just managing to dot the ball down despite the powerful hit of Semesa Rokoduguni. Weir missed the conversion, but the try meant his side took a 13 point lead into the half-time break.

Half-time: Glasgow Warriors 23 – Bath Rugby 10.

The home side, roused by their vocal sell-out crowd, started the second-half in much the same fashion. They thought they’d scored in the corner through Chris Fusaro moments after the kick-off, only for the TMO to rule the score out for a knock-on.

The decision seemed to give Bath some go forward, and scything runs from both Ford and Anthony Watson took them deep into the Warriors’ territory. The Scottish side proved they could defend as well as attack though and prevented Bath from finding their way over the whitewash.

With just over 10 minutes left of the game Bath had been keeping a stranglehold on the Glasgow attack. Fresh impetus for the home side came in the form of replacement Niko Matawalu however, who set-up and scored the bonus point try. A turnover on half-way led to the scrum-half grubbering ahead. Ford gave chase and did his best to get his foot to the bobbling ball, but it refused to sit-up for him, instead falling into the hands of Matawalu, who gathered and scored in the corner. Weir added the conversion. 30-10.

Despite the best efforts of the visitors it was not to be their day, and Glasgow sealed the game with a fifth try. Centre Bennett broke free in the middle of the field, Maitland chipped ahead and Bennett finished off the score for his second of the day. Weir was once more on target with the conversion. 37-10.

Bath kept fighting until the final whistle. Penalties were won at the breakdown and the scrum, but the Glasgow defence stood firm until the ball went loose and brought with it the end of the game.

Final score: Glasgow Warriors 37 – Bath Rugby 10.

25 OCTOBER 2014 BATH V TOULOUSE

Bath Rugby narrowly failed to claw their way back to victory at the Rec today, going down 19-21 to Toulouse in the Club’s first home European Rugby Champions Cup match.

Toulouse’s scrum had been on the back foot twice in the first four minutes of the match, and the second penalty given to Bath was in kickable distance for George Ford. The fly-half drew first blood in the match with his successful kick. 3-0.

Less than 10 minutes later, a Toulouse penalty on halfway became a free-kick on Bath’s 22 following an accidental offside by a home player. The visitors pounced and made the most of the overlap to run in a simple try through wing Vincent Clerc (adding to his record-holding tally of 35 tries in European competition).

Toulouse fly-half Toby Flood converted Clerc’s try to give the Frenchmen a four-point lead. In the 30th minute, after Bath’s several phases of attack yielded no fruit, Ford slotted a cool drop goal. 6-7.

Jonathan Joseph showed all his class and commitment not long after when Yoann Huget had intercepted a chip through. The French international winger looked to have an easy run-in for the try, but his speed showed no match for the Bath centre, who chased him down brilliantly to save the try.

Joseph’s incredible tackle, and Flood’s missed penalty on the stroke of half time, meant there was only a point in the game when the clock struck 40.

Half time: Bath Rugby 6 – 7 Toulouse

It was only a matter of minutes into the second half when Bath re-took the lead through a Ford penalty. 9-7.

Toulouse displayed similar alacrity, however, when they punished Bath’s bunched stretched defence and allowed Imanol Harinordoquy to go over for his side’s second try. A good touchline conversion from Flood extended Toulouse’s lead. 9-14.

In this series of tit-for-tat scores, exemplary ball-carrying from Dominic Day and Charlie Ewels (making his starting debut for Bath) set the home side up for a penalty in front of the visitors’ posts; Ford narrowing the score to 12-14.

Toulouse failed to be put off by Bath’s scoreboard chase and shortly after the hour, Bath’s valiant defence eventually gave way to another French try – this one by fullback Medard, which Luke McAlister converted. 12-21.

With fewer than ten minutes to go, some clever passing led to replacement wing Olly Woodburn going over for what seemed to be a legitimate try. The TMO had other ideas, deeming Woodburn’s knee to be in touch before he grounded the ball.

Still, Bath had a penalty advantage and their maul – complementing their bullying scrum on the day – allowed replacement hooker Ross Batty to score. With Ford’s successful conversion, it was back to a two-point deficit for Bath. 19-21.

Unfortunately, that was how the score remained. Despite Bath progressing back into the Toulouse half with good intent after the restart, the visitors turned them over and kicked to touch to end what had been a compelling and close match.

Full time: Bath Rugby 19 – 21 Toulouse

 

It was only a matter of minutes into the second half when Bath re-took the lead through a Ford penalty. 9-7.

Toulouse displayed similar alacrity, however, when they punished Bath’s bunched stretched defence and allowed Imanol Harinordoquy to go over for his side’s second try. A good touchline conversion from Flood extended Toulouse’s lead. 9-14.

In this series of tit-for-tat scores, exemplary ball-carrying from Dominic Day and Charlie Ewels (making his starting debut for Bath) set the home side up for a penalty in front of the visitors’ posts; Ford narrowing the score to 12-14.

Toulouse failed to be put off by Bath’s scoreboard chase and shortly after the hour, Bath’s valiant defence eventually gave way to another French try – this one by fullback Medard, which Luke McAlister converted. 12-21.

With fewer than ten minutes to go, some clever passing led to replacement wing Olly Woodburn going over for what seemed to be a legitimate try. The TMO had other ideas, deeming Woodburn’s knee to be in touch before he grounded the ball.

Still, Bath had a penalty advantage and their maul – complementing their bullying scrum on the day – allowed replacement hooker Ross Batty to score. With Ford’s successful conversion, it was back to a two-point deficit for Bath. 19-21.

Unfortunately, that was how the score remained. Despite Bath progressing back into the Toulouse half with good intent after the restart, the visitors turned them over and kicked to touch to end what had been a compelling and close match.

Full time: Bath Rugby 19 – 21 Toulouse

1st NOVEMBER 2014 BATH V LONDON WELSH

 Bath Rugby returned to winning ways at the Rec with one-sided 47-7 win against London Welsh in Round One of the LV= Cup.

Seven tries were scored in all by the home side, the first within five minutes of the first half when a powerful maul from Bath enabled blinside Max Northcote-Green to score on his senior debut for the Club. Fly-half Gavin Henson’s conversion rebounded off the posts. 5-0.

Henson was able to rectify that error six minutes later when Bath won a scrum penalty near enough in front of the Welsh posts, his successful kick taking the score to 8-0.

The opening quarter had just gone when Henson, in possession of the ball outside the visitors’ 22, shipped to Olly Woodburn on the right wing. Woodburn scampered under the first tackle, presented the ball well enough for it to be recycled to hooker Ross Batty, whose drive allowed Woodburn to finally get the try just one phase later.

Henson’s impressive touchline conversion gave Bath a 15-0 lead, which he then extended to 18-0 after his side were presented with a scrum penalty in front of the Welsh posts with just over half an hour on the clock. Tighthead Kane Palma-Newport would have felt hard done by in the 37th minute, having seemingly touched down for Bath’s third try, only for the referee to bring it back for a home penalty.

That denial made little difference to the team, however, when their scrum shunted Welsh over their own tryline, giving Bath a penalty try moments later; one which Henson was never going to miss. 25-0.

That wasn’t it for the first half, though. Outside centre Matt Banahan burst through the Welsh defence, and strong support work from wing Horacio Agulla and Nick Auterac put Banahan over for his side’s fourth try.

Henson was unfortunate to again hit the posts with his attempt, but a 32-0 lead going into half time told its own story, with the Exiles having found themselves running into a wall of Blue, Black and White through almost the entirety of the first 40 minutes.

Half time: Bath Rugby 30-0 London Welsh

The Exiles were never going to allow themselves to concede as many points in the second half as they had in the first, and so it proved. Still, Northcote Green’s second try after 52 minutes was a sight to behold: inside centre Ollie Devoto’s kick finding Agulla – who somehow spun in the air to retrieve the ball – who fed the ball to the blindside. Henson’s conversion took the lead to 37-0.

Welsh began to come alive in attack after that try, and frequent penalties and quick-taps in Bath’s half eventually resulted in former Bath wing Nick Scott scoring in the left-hand corner. Replacement Welsh fly-half Will Robinson’s difficult conversion from out wide was one of the high points of the afternoon for the Exiles. 37-7.

Bath struck back with fewer than ten minutes remaining, as if galvanised by the crowd’s desire for one last try. Parked on the opposition tryline, replacement wing Rich Lane found himself unmarked for the best part of three seconds. In that time, scrum-half Micky Young, on for Chris Cook, passed Lane the ball for the penultimate try of the night. The conversion attempt was wide,  and the score now stood at 42-7.

There was time for just one more try for Bath, with another fine maul allowing replacement lock Marcus Garratt to touch down. Again, the conversion was off-target, but it had been a successful return to the Rec for Bath.

Full time: Bath Rugby 47-7 London Welsh

8th NOVEMBER 2014 EXETER V BATH

Despite dominating many facets of a high-tempo match, Bath Rugby were unable to see off the advances of Exeter Chiefs, going down 18-6 at Sandy Park.

The 3-3 scoreline in the first half belied the compelling nature of those 40 minutes. Bath’s points came after just three minutes of play, with the visitors putting good pressure on the Chiefs from kick-off. That pressure eventually told and Chiefs infringed at the ruck, allowing Bath fly-half Gavin Henson to slot the penalty. 0-3.

Thereafter, Bath tackled themselves to a standstill. Their pack built in confidence and, try as they might, the Chiefs just couldn’t make any meaningful yards down either wing. Five minutes from half time, Bath were penalised at the ruck, and Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson curved the ball through the posts to bring the scores level. 3-3.

Chiefs would have been frustrated by Bath’s dogged and resolute defence in the dying minutes of the half: twice their maul was denied on the visitors’ tryline. So while the first half might have been all Exeter in attack, defensively it very much belonged to Bath.

Half time: Exeter Chiefs 3 – 3 Bath Rugby

The second half started much as the first one had begun, with another Henson three-pointer following a penalty against the home side. 3-6.

Twice in the second 40, Exeter were lucky not to have two players sin-binned for deliberate knock-ons, but it was Bath who were the architects of Chiefs’ first try in the 59th minute, when the visitors knocked on under little pressure after Chiefs had kicked deep to the corner.

A scrum became a lineout, which became a maul from which replacement Chiefs prop Carl Rimmer scored a try. Steenson converted to make it 10-6.

Henson had seen a long-range penalty attempt bounce off the crossbar, and it was these moments of bad luck that would cost Bath in the grand scheme of the match. Three minutes from time, Bath were stretched to the limit, defending for dear life on their tryline. It was another replacement prop, Moray Low, who scored Chiefs’ second try. Steenson this time failed with the conversion. 15-6.

To add insult to injury, Steenson added a further three points with time up on the clock, after Bath had tried to run the ball from their own 22.

Full time: Exeter Chiefs 18 – 6 Bath Rugby

15 NOVEMBER 2014 BATH V NEWCASTLE

A determined performance in the Aviva Premiership from Bath Rugby this afternoon saw them secure a 23-14 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

It was the visitors who enjoyed the majority of the possession early on, but fly-half Juan Pablo Socino spurned too penalty opportunities in quick succession – the first rebounding off the upright and the second drifting wide.

Instead, a drop-goal from Gavin Henson were the first points of the game, the fly-half setting himself in the pocket following a series of strong scrums and lineouts from the home side.

Newcastle continued to have the better of the pressure however, and a strong drive from the lineout led them to think they’d scored the game’s first try. Referee Ian Tempest consulted with the TMO, who ruled that they were held up over the line following some good defence from Bath. The resulting scrum saw the Bath pack power forward, but the ball went loose and into touch, giving Newcastle the lineout. This time there was no deliberation as Mark Wilson touched down over the line from the back of the maul. Socino added the extras and the Falcons led after 35 minutes. 3-7.

The scrum was a powerful weapon for the home side and it created the next scoring opportunity with just a minute until half-time. The pack earned the penalty and Henson sent the ball sailing into touch for a five metre lineout. The ball was secured, the pack drove hard and Stuart Hooper was at the base to dive over the line at the vital moment. Henson added the conversion.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 10 – Newcastle Falcons 7

The late try in the first-half seemed to give Bath the impetus in the second, with the home side coming out firing. A big, physical side, Newcastle weren’t easy to breakdown, but after 54 minutes Bath managed just that through the neat footwork of Jonathan Joseph. A superb run along the right touchline from Olly Woodburn set the home side in a good position. The ball was shifted inside and found Joseph in the centre. He shrugged off the three Newcastle defenders around him, snuck through the gap and burst away to cross the line. Henson converted the try, giving Bath a 10 point lead.

A penalty miss each from Henson and replacement Rory Clegg preceded a penalty from the Bath man following the referee showing a yellow card to Socino. 20-7.

Despite being a man down Newcastle kept fighting, and once more had a try turned down by the TMO before being awarded one moments later. Sinoti Sinoti pounced from short range and Clegg added the extras to make for a tense final five minutes for the Recreation Ground crowd.

The scrum proved the decisive factor as the game drew to a close, as it had been throughout the game. A huge shove from the Bath pack was rewarded with the penalty that Henson duly sent straight through the posts, denying the visitors a losing bonus point as the game reached its climax.

Final score: Bath Rugby 23 – Newcastle Falcons 14.

22nd NOVEMBER 2014 BATH V LONDON IRISH

Bath Rugby fought tooth and nail to claim a 23-33 victory against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium this evening, surviving a spirited comeback by the Exiles.

It was Irish who drew first blood in the opening stages, as Bath were penalized following some strong counter-rucking; captain and inside centre Shane Geraghty kicking his side into an early 3-0 lead.

Only moments later, Gavin Henson drew the scores level after Irish were penalised for entering the tackle from the wrong direction. 3-3.

The Welsh fly-half doubled his tally in the 15th minute with another penalty to make it 3-6 to Bath.

In a first half strewn with penalties, mainly to the visitors, the Irish defence held strong – but at a cost. Almost half an hour into the match, and after the referee had frequently warned the home side about their infringements at both set-piece and breakdown, Irish tighthead Halani Aulika was given a yellow card.

Following Aulika’s marching orders, Henson took the scores to 3-9. Eight minutes later, frequent re-sets at Bath’s attacking scrum on the Irish 5m forced the referee to give the visitors the penalty try. Henson converted from in front of the posts. 3-16.

There was still time for more points in the first half, albeit it was Irish who took them, with Bath penalised at a lineout in their 22. Geraghty kicked well to make it 6-16.

Half time: London Irish 6 – 16 Bath Rugby

Bath couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half, with none other than tighthead prop Henry Thomas benefiting from a deft offload in the midfield from Henson to shrug off three would-be defenders and sprint away to score. Henson added the extras and Bath now had a commanding 6-23 lead.

Irish played the waiting game: six minutes to be precise, as their penalty lineout saw them work their way patiently to Bath’s line, before hooker David Paice forced his way over. Geraghty made it 13-23 with his conversion.

In the 51st minute, Bath were found guilty of pulling an opponent at the scrum, which allowed Geraghty to draw his team ever nearer with a further three points. 16-23.

When Henson hoisted up a very high ball into Irish territory, Semesa Rokoduguni chased with purpose – enough to pressure Geraghty into dropping the ball and giving the scrum to Bath.

Never ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, Bath’s pack dominated the scrum and ensured Henson a simple position from which to take the penalty kick. 16-26.

Ten minutes remained in the match when replacement scrum-half Chris Cook made something out of nothing, his break and evasion of two tackles then saw him roly-poly over the line to score a wonder try. Henson was again on hand to make the conversion. 16-33.

It was then that Irish started to show some serious urgency in attack, throwing caution to the wind and running the ball from everywhere – including deep inside their own half.

Lock Dom Day was sin-binned in the 73rd minute, and while Bath did well to turn the Exiles over as they were camped in the visitors’ 22, no sooner had they done that than Irish were again in possession. They went wide and scored through replacement wing James Short, and Geraghty converted. 23-33.

Bath worked tirelessly in defence for the final remaining minutes, and they needed to, such was the strength of the Exiles’ desire to find a way over the line. The visitors left the Madejski with a well-earned win that holds them in good stead in the Aviva Premiership.

Final score: London Irish 23 – 33 Bath Rugby

28TH NOVEMBER 2014 BATH V HARLEQUINS

Bath Rugby never looked like losing tonight at the Rec, winning 25-6 against Harlequins in an Aviva Premiership match that also saw the long-awaited introduction to rugby union of Sam Burgess.

Bath applied constant pressure on Quins from the first whistle, winning all the territory and some fierce collisions. From a lineout in the visitors’ 22, the ball went wide and fullback Horacio Agulla stepped inside his man, delayed the offload to perfection, and allowed Matt Banahan to dive over for the first try of the match. Fly-half Ollie Devoto missed with the conversion, meaning Bath led 5-0 inside 10 minutes.

Agulla and Banahan were in bullying form in the first half, providing Bath with the impetus needed to make good go-forward. As the first quarter drew to a close, the hosts put together numerous clever phases, which culminated in Devoto unleashing Kyle Eastmond a metre from the line to score Bath’s second try. It was unfortunate that Devoto’s conversion hit the upright, but it was now 10-0 to Bath.

Quins fly-half Nick Evans got his team on the scoreboard three minutes later with a penalty kick, which Devoto cancelled out soon after when the visitors were penalised for the third successive time at the scrum. 13-3.

Half time: Bath Rugby 13 – 3 Harlequins

The whistle for the restart had not long been blown by Wayne Barnes before Evans struck his second penalty kick of the night to make it 13-6.

It was to be more than 20 minutes before further points were scored, but in that time Bath’s pack had made a magnificent statement in destroying Quins’ scrum time and again. At one point, the visitors were down to 12 men due to yellow cards but, despite frequent howls and protests from the crowd, Bath didn’t get the penalty try they were looking for. Fifteen minutes from time, Man of the Match Ross Batty piled over for Bath’s third try of the night. Then, with seven minutes left on the clock, number eight Leroy Houston barged his way to the tryline, making it a night to remember for the forwards. Devoto converted Houston’s bonus point try. 25-6.

Burgess, who took to the field in the final 20 minutes in place of Agulla and played at inside centre, showed just how hard a man he is to take down with his first touch of the ball – Quins needing four men to bring down the Yorkshireman.

The result bodes well for Bath as they prepare for their third match of European rugby next week against Montpellier.

Full time: Bath Rugby 25 – 6 Harlequins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12th DECEMBER 2014 MONTPELLIER V BATH

Bath Rugby left it fashionably late in the match to secure a bonus point 32-12 victory against Montpellier in Round Four of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Much pre-match talk had centred around Bath earning the try bonus point in this fixture, having just failed to do so at the Altrad Stadium last week. This prospect looked highly likely as Bath scored within the opening two minutes through Matt Banahan, which had its roots in a Leroy Houston chargedown. The try wasn’t awarded by Italian referee Marius Mitrea without much deliberation from the TMO but once given, George Ford converted to give Bath a 7-0 lead.

Montpellier allowed their opponents to edge further ahead in the seventh minute, failing to release a Bath player and gifting Ford a penalty and three points. 10-0.

A decoy run by Sam Burgess (on his first start for the Club) after 14 minutes was the launchpad for his centre partner Jonathan Joseph to dash upfield and put Banahan away for his second try in less than 15 minutes. Again, Ford converted.

With Bath holding a 17-point lead, it was Montpellier who enjoyed all the territory and most of the possession in the second quarter of the first half. It was only the quick wit of the Bath pack in the 40th minute which stifled a likely Montpellier score, disrupting their scrum near the Bath 5m enough to win back the ball and kick to touch to end the first half.

Half time: Bath Rugby 17-0 Montpellier

The second half started precisely as the first, with Bath charging down Montpellier in the visitors’ 22. Although it wasn’t to result in a try, the position from which the penalty was given was perfect for a three-pointer from Ford. 20-0.

In the 52nd minute, Bath made a wholesale change in the front row, and it instantly paid dividends. Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas were part of a maul which put Banahan over from close range, the winger securing his hat-trick for the evening after stiff-arming the defender to go over for the try. 25-0.

Shortly after the hour mark, Montpellier made their attacking lineout count, with number eight Alex Tulou barging over for an unconverted try. 25-5.

Montpellier scored another close-range effort six minutes from time through replacement prop Mickael Ivaldi, converted by replacement scrum-half Benoit Pail Iaugue. 25-12.

By now, time was running out for Bath to score that crucial bonus point. It all looked very unlikely until the 78th minute when, in Montpellier’s 22, replacement wing Horacio Agulla cut a remarkable angle to run in untouched for Bath’s fourth try. Ford, of course, converted from in front of the posts to give the crowd further reason to cheer at the denouement of this Anglo-French Champions Cup clash.

Final score: Bath Rugby 32-Montpellier 12

20th DECEMBER 2014 GLOUCESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby came out emphatically on top in the West Country derby with Gloucester at Kingsholm this evening, emerging 16-39 victors.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw opened the evening’s scoring with a penalty in front of the posts after a ruck infringement by Bath. 3-0.

Bath were straight back in the game after seven minutes, when Gloucester were penalized for holding onto the ball on the floor. Ford nervelessly struck the penalty through the posts to draw the score level. 3-3.

Laidlaw struck back to make it 6-3 back soon after, following a scrum penalty to the home side. Not to be outdone, Ford was given the same chance to equalise – this one from considerably further out – when Gloucester entered the ruck illegally, and did so with aplomb. 6-6.

Ford was equally adept with his third penalty attempt of the evening – this one slightly closer than the previous one – after Gloucester collapsed the scrum, which gave Bath the lead for the first time in the opening half. 6-9.

In a mirror image sequence to Bath’s previous kick, Ford was presented with a second consecutive penalty from the exact same spot – again thanks to a collapsed scrum by the home team. The fly-half neatly drilled the ball over to extend Bath’s lead. 6-12.

Three minutes from time, Laidlaw kicked a long penalty to narrow the gap between the sides to three points. 9-12. Bath then made perhaps their most effective attacking phases of the first 40, taking them all the way to the Gloucester line, where the home side failed to roll away at the ruck. Ford’s fantastic penalty kick saw to it that Bath ended the half in good fashion.

Half time: Gloucester Rugby 9-15 Bath Rugby

Ford started the second half as he’d finished the first, with a successful penalty kick in front of the posts. 9-18.

Less than an hour had gone when Gloucester had a prop sin-binned. Ford kicked to the corner and immediately Bath’s maul was on the march, until the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try. Ford made his easiest kick of the night in front of the posts to give Bath a very impressive 9-25 lead.

Replacement centre Ollie Devoto then provided a moment of magic for the visitors, a show-and-go which put fellow replacement Matt Garvey in position to pounce over the line from close quarters. The try converted by Ford, Bath held an incredible 9-32 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Gloucester found some comfort when, mere moments later, replacement back Dan Robson dashed up the left wing with a display of great pace and scored his side’s first and only try of the match. Fly-half James Hook made one of the kicks of the night with his touchline conversion. 16-32.

The icing on the cake for Bath came in the final minute of play when, awarded a penalty on the home 5m, Ford tapped and went, shipping the ball to Louw. The Man of the Match went close, but it was Garvey who was to score a second try of the evening. Ford converted to send Bath supporters home in an appropriately festive mood.

Final Score: Gloucester Rugby 16 – 39 Bath Rugby

27th DECEMBER 2015 BATH V EXETER

An enthralling West Country derby saw Bath Rugby come away 31-14 bonus point winners over Exeter Chiefs at the Recreation Ground this afternoon.

It was a fantastic end to end game of rugby for the sold-out Recreation Ground crowd, with players from both sides giving their all.

With eight minutes gone, the home side thought they’d got the first score of the game. Delicate linking play between George Ford and Horacio Agulla set Matt Banahan up to cut an arcing inside line and cross for the try, but the score was ruled out by referee J.P. Doyle for a forward pass.

It was, in fact, Exeter who got points on the scoreboard first, albeit against the run of play. As Bath were working their way up the field, a loose ball was pounced on by Chiefs’ captain Dean Mumm. The lock charged down field and Matt Jess was with him in support, and the winger sprinted over the line. Gareth Steenson was on target with the conversion, 0-7.

The Bath backs looked threatening every time they had the ball, and they worked hard to force holes in the Exeter defensive line. It paid off on 29 minutes, as Kyle Eastmond found Agulla on the angle and the winger darted through to score. Ford added the extras to level the scores. 7-7.

With just four minutes left of the half Bath got their second try. The lively Chris Cook broke free from the back of a ruck following more flowing play across the field. The scrum-half found Eastmond on his shoulder, who left the defence behind to touch down near the posts. Ford was once again on target with the conversion, giving Bath the lead. 14-7.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 14 – Exeter Chiefs 7.

The visitors drew level shortly after the start of the second-half, Jack Nowell pouncing on a ball in the corner that had been kicked through by his centre colleague Sam Hill. Steenson added the conversion. 14-14.

With just under half an hour left to play, the Bath forwards really started to show their dominance. An Exeter lineout stolen by Stuart Hooper saw the home pack set-up a huge driving maul that travelled straight through the 22 and up to the try-line. Replacement lock Dave Attwood had a secure hold of the ball at the back and he crashed down over the line. Ford added the conversion. 21-14.

The forwards continued to control the game from there on in, with a penalty earned at the scrum providing another three points from the boot of Ford. 24-14.

With 10 minutes left, Bath were hunting for the bonus point try. As they pushed towards the whitewash once again, Exeter’s defence became ill-disciplined and replacement Mitch Lees was shown a yellow card for pulling down the maul.

Despite being a man down, Exeter fought hard for the remainder of the game, but the pressure finally told. Ford picked out Anthony Watson unmarked on the wing, and the fullback turned on the gas to race away from the tiring defence to wrap up the five point win.

Final score: Bath Rugby 31 – Exeter Chiefs 14.

 

4th JANUARY 2015 LEICESTER V BATH

A last minute try from Ross Batty wasn’t enough to keep Bath Rugby from suffering a 17-8 defeat at the hands of Leicester Tigers this afternoon in the Aviva Premiership.

A sweetly-struck penalty from George Ford on four minutes opened the scoring for Bath, but from then on the hosts slowly gained control.

A penalty attempt from Owen Williams came back off the post, and in the process of clearing-up, Bath were penalised, providing Williams with another, easier, shot at goal. 3-3.

The visitors found themselves on the wrong side of referee Matthew Carley throughout the first-half, and it was from a penalty that Leicester struck next as the ball was dispatched to touch by Williams. The driving maul, so often the weapon of choice for the Tigers, was set into action and hooker Tom Youngs was at the back to ground the ball. Williams missed the conversion, but the score tightened the home side’s grip on the game. 8-3.

A penalty on the 20 minute mark extended the lead further for Tigers, but some outstanding, committed defending from Bath meant they were stopped from crossing the try-line again.

Instead, Bath thought they had the next score, but for it to be ruled out for a forward pass. The ball had been worked swiftly through the hands and into the 22, providing Sam Burgess with the opportunity to crash over from short range only for Carley to quickly decide to not award the score.

Ford had the opportunity to narrow the gap on the stroke of half-time but his kick drifted just wide of the upright.

Half-time: Leicester Tigers 8 – Bath Rugby 3.

A scrappy second-half ensued when both teams came back out, but Williams kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties on 45 and 60 minutes.

The set-piece became the focal point, with Bath gaining parity at both scrum-time and the lineout. Both Horacio Agulla and replacement Semesa Rokoduguni went close to scoring along the touchline following solid lineouts from Bath, only for both to be pushed into touch.

Bath were working hard to try and build some form of attacking momentum, searching for the gaps in the strong Tigers defence, but nothing seemed to be going their way.

There was no indication of the visitors giving up though, and as the game was entering its final minute, another lineout saw the Bath maul formed and determinedly forced its way over the line. Batty emerged from underneath the pile of bodies having touched the ball down, but Ford was unable to seal the losing bonus point with the conversion.

Final score: Leicester Tigers 17 – Bath Rugby 8.

BATH V WASPS 10th JANUARY 2015

Bath Rugby prevailed in an intense nine-try encounter with Wasps to win 39-26.

With 10 minutes just gone, Bath spurned a kickable penalty and opted for a lineout in the visitors’ 22. They justified turning down the three points when, helped by strong yards by inside centre Sam Burgess and tighthead Henry Thomas, Francis Louw dotted down under the posts. Ford’s conversion made it 7-0 the home side.

It remained scoreless until the 26th minute, when Wasps launched a threatening attack and Bath had too few defenders out wide to stop wing Alapati Leiua from scoring. Wasps fly-half Andy Goode failed with his attempt to convert. 7-5.

Near the half hour mark, Ford slotted a neatly-struck penalty to make it 10-5. The next score came shortly after, starting with a Henry Thomas steal inside his own 22. The ball shipped wide and Ford made a perfect offload for Semesa Rokoduguni to race away for the try, which the fly-half converted.

Half time: Bath Rugby 20-5 Wasps

Five minutes into the second half, Burgess again showed great impact with the ball in hand, bursting into the visitors’ 22. He was brought down short of the line, but the wall was quickly distributed out wide, before coming back into midfield for an expectant Burgess to cut inside and score his maiden Premiership try. From in front of the posts, Ford gave Bath a 27-5 lead.

Wasps then struck back through their impressive number eight Nathan Hughes, who broke through one tackle to score a close-range try in the right corner. Goode converted this time to make it 27-12.

An hour gone, Bath’s imposing maul was inching up the left wing. Scrum-half Chris Cook flicked a cute pass to Matt Banahan who swatted away a Wasps defender with seeming ease to score. The conversion attempt from Ford was unfortunate to bounce off the post, and Bath led 32-12.

Bath piled on the misery within a matter of minutes thereafter, with Devoto crossing in the right corner after some heavy work from the forwards -including a tenacious Matt Garvey- in Wasps’ 22. The touchline conversion was taken with aplomb by Ford. 39-12.

Just when you thought Wasps were dead and buried, and with almost 10 minutes left to play, they came alive with a scintillating length-of-the-field movement, finished by centre Ben Jacobs, which Goode converted. 39-19.

Wasps followed that with a marvellous individual effort from replacement fly-half Alex Lozowski, who converted his own try to narrow the gap to 13 points. The match ended minutes later with Wasps looking for a further try, but they were bundled into touch after some fine Bath defending.

Full time: Bath Rugby 39-26.

18th JANUARY 2015 TOULOUSE V BATH

A perfect balance of forward power and awe-inspiring back play gave Bath Rugby an 18-35 Champions Cup away win against Toulouse that will live long in the memory.

Bath registered points not long after George Ford had kicked off to start the match; Horacio Agulla running a devastating line to put the fly-half in a good position to penalise Toulouse’s indiscretion at the breakdown. 0-3.

Some remarkable clever passing from both Bath’s forwards and backs then found Francois Louw in midfield, and the Springbok flanker threw a perfectly-judged long pass to Matt Banahan on the wing. Banahan jogged over for the first try of the match, and Ford converted. 0-10. Toulouse’s powerful driving maul was key to their response, second row Yoann Maestri touching down for the second try of the match. Former England fly-half Toby Flood was on song with his conversion. 7-10.

The home side were the architects of Bath’s second try, as Chris Cook intercepted a pass from a Toulouse lineout to sprint away for the score. With the conversion missed, Bath now held a 7-15 lead. The world-class abilities of Kyle Eastmond were on show in the 28th minute. The centre put on a show-and-go of the highest order; the ball fed to Banahan who took out two defenders before popping to Jonathan Joseph to touch down. Ford converted. 7-22.

Agulla’s breathtaking break up the right wing moments later resulted in what looked like a try to Anthony Watson, but what could have been a worthy contender for try of the week was denied by the TMO. Still, Bath didn’t come away empty-handed from that encounter, winning a penalty at the resulting scrum in front of the posts, which gave them three points from Ford. 7-25.

Not to be outdone, Toulouse hit back through Yoann Huget when the winger sidestepped his way through the Bath defence from his side’s attacking scrum to score. Flood missed the conversion, but was more accurate with a penalty kick on the stroke of half-time, which made it a ten-point deficit.

Half time: Toulouse 15-25 Bath Rugby

After seven minutes of play, Flood drew the hosts to within a converted try of Bath with a penalty kick. 18-25.

Despite some staggeringly good phases of play from both sides, it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that a telling blow was dealt. It was appropriate that Jonathan Joseph – so adventurous throughout – who dealt it, setting up a try for Francois Louw that will be watched repeatedly on European Rugby highlights for years to come.

Taking the ball on halfway, Joseph chipped the ball through the oncoming Toulouse line, caught it on the fly and rounded the defence with astonishing pace. He then passed back inside to Ross Batty, who fed Francois Louw for yet another scintillating team try from Bath, converted by Ford. 18-32.

Ford then added insult to injury against the European giants, successfully kicking a final minute penalty to add the icing on the cake that will feed Bath supporters’ dreams of making it through to the next stage of the Champions Cup.

Final score: Toulouse 18-35 Bath Rugby

25th JANUARY 2015 BATH V GLASGOW

Bath Rugby topped their European Rugby Champions Cup pool with a breathtaking 20-15 win against a dangerous Glasgow Warriors side at the Rec.

Powerful running in midfield from the visitors enabled inside centre Alex Dunbar to open the scoring after just four minutes. Fly-half Finn Russell converted. 0-7.

The home side got the upper hand at the scrum throughout the first half, but had little to show for their set-piece dominance. They only registered their first points half an hour into the match, following an infringement by Glasgow at a lineout, Ford’s penalty kick making it 3-7.

Ford was at it again five minutes later, adding a further three points after a lively counterattack from Anthony Watson saw Glasgow penalised at the breakdown. 6-7.

Half time: Bath Rugby 6-7 Glasgow Warriors

What had been a promising attack from Bath in the 47th minute was cut short by a knock-on from the home side, resulting in an impressive counterattack from Glasgow which led to Richie Vernon touching down in the corner. Russell missed with his conversion attempt. 6-12.

Bath took the lead for the first time in the match in the 52nd minute. Presented with a kickable penalty, they instead gave their supporters a bigger reason to cheer as Ford kicked to the corner. From there, the home side’s driving maul was too strong for Glasgow, who conceded a penalty try that Ford converted. 13-12.

The lead didn’t last long though, with the home side penalised shortly after the restart; Russell’s accuracy with the boot taking Glasgow two points clear. 13-15.

It was Bath’s pack that got the team out of a sticky spot once more when, in the 66th minute, they were awarded a penalty not long after Watson had been held up over the line. Devoto converted to take the score to 20-15.

What followed was a back-and-forth between the two sides that left hearts in mouths at the Rec. Glasgow looked for all the world the most likely to score in the dying minutes, hammering away at Bath’s tryline. The advantage only swung in Bath’s favour as the indomitable Francois Louw won his team an extraordinary penalty to regain possession.

Ford kicked to touch, and from there Matt Garvey (so impactful throughout the match) won the lineout to allow the ball to be kicked out to end a thoroughly exciting match.

Full time: Bath Rugby 20-15 Glasgow Warriors

31st JANUARY 2015 HARLEQUINS V BATH

A youthful Bath Rugby side fought back against all odds at the Stoop to defeat Harlequins with a last-gasp penalty to win 21-23 and top their pool in the LV= Cup.

Scrum-half Will Homer, on his senior debut for Bath, registered the first points of the match immediately after kick-off, with Quins penalised at the scrum after a knock-on in their 22. 0-3.

Less than two minutes later, a Max Clark offload to centre partner Matt Banahan allowed the England international to score under the posts. Homer converted to give Bath a healthy 0-10 lead.

Bath were unlucky on several occasions in the first quarter not to be awarded penalties for their dominance at the scrum. It would cost them their 10-point lead as a questionable Quins penalty at the scrum eventually led to wing Tom Williams scoring in the corner. Former All Black fly-half Nick Evans made a difficult conversion look effortless to reduce the gap: 7-10.

Evans soon slotted a penalty to even the scores. Quins took the lead with seven minutes left in the first half; a quick tap penalty and an even quicker dive over the try line by wing Charlie Walker giving the home team the lead for the first time. Evans’s conversion attempt bounced off the upright. 15-10.

Homer countered the Quins try with a penalty three minutes from time to narrow the gap between the two teams.

Half time: Harlequins 15-13 Bath Rugby

Harlequins were back on the scoreboard through the boot of Evans within two minutes of the second half, following a high tackle from the visitors. 18-13.

With 20 minutes remaining, Evans struck another penalty – this one in front of the Bath posts – to make it 21-13.

As for Bath’s clear dominance at the scrum throughout the match, there was only delayed gratification as the referee awarded them a penalty try in the 69th minute after repeatedly subduing the Quins pack. Homer’s conversion ensured there was now only a point in it. 21-20.

Bath’s winning moment ironically came when the home side had all the momentum behind them. Surging into the Bath 22, Quins were foiled by a Banahan intercept, which saw him shoot upfield. The centre offloaded to Olly Woodburn who then found Alafoti Fa’osiliva in the Quins 22, and while Bath supporters were dreaming of a try for the Club, they got the next best thing: a penalty in front of the posts with two minutes of time left.

Jennings had the dubious honour, on debut no less, of taking the kick in front of the posts that would give Bath the lead, surrounded by a deafening din of jeers from the home crowd. As it was, he struck it nervelessly and Bath calmly retained possession as the clock wound down before kicking the ball to touch to end the match.

Full time: Harlequins 21-23 Bath Rugby

7th FEBRUARY 2015 BATH V OSPREYS V BATH

Ospreys stole a late 10-13 win over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground this afternoon in the final round of the LV= Cup, ending the home sides hopes of qualification to the knock-out stages.

After an evenly matched opening quarter, Richard Lane got Bath on the scoreboard. Tom Ellis had gathered on to a loose ball, allowing Horacio Agulla, making his 50th appearance for the home side, to carve a sweeping run through the Ospreys defence. Ollie Devoto found Sam Burgess in space, and the centre put in a clever chip ahead for Lane to pounce on to and slide over the line. 5-0.

A Sam Davies penalty five minutes later saw the visitors record their first points of the game. The Welsh region had been battling at the try line, and referee Dean Richards decided that Stuart Hooper had infringed in the red zone, awarding the penalty and showing a yellow card to Bath’s captain.

The Bath set-piece was largely dominant, providing a strong platform from which the home side could attack. Opsreys looshead Marc Thomas found himself spending 10 minutes on the sideline after a similar offence to Hooper’s, and the extra man advantage allowed Bath to get their next score. Another powerful drive from the lineout sent Max Lahiff powering over from short range for his first try in Bath colours with five minutes remaining of the first-half.

Half-time score: 10-3.

The second-half started in a similar fashion to the first, with neither side being able to work out a way to gain the advantage.

The intent was clear from the home side, with kicks at goal turned down in favour of kicks to touch and a chance to cross the tryline. Bath spent large periods of the second 40 hammering at the Ospreys 22, but the visiting defence stood strong, soaking up wave after wave of pressure. A yellow card to Aisea Natoga for a deliberate knock-on saw the Ospreys again reduced to 14 men, but Bath were unable to capitalise, despite their forward dominance.

A penalty from Davies 10 minutes from time reduced the deficit to four minutes, and the chance at victory lifted the Welsh region. An infringement from Bath on the half-way line enabled Davies to break, dart through the defence and offload to replacement Matthew Dwyer who was on his shoulder. The hooker charged over the line from close range, and with Davies’ conversion, the score won the game for the visitors at the death.

Final score: 10-13.

7TH FEBRUARY 2015 BATH V OSPREYS V BATH

Ospreys stole a late 10-13 win over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground this afternoon in the final round of the LV= Cup, ending the home sides hopes of qualification to the knock-out stages.

After an evenly matched opening quarter, Richard Lane got Bath on the scoreboard. Tom Ellis had gathered on to a loose ball, allowing Horacio Agulla, making his 50th appearance for the home side, to carve a sweeping run through the Ospreys defence. Ollie Devoto found Sam Burgess in space, and the centre put in a clever chip ahead for Lane to pounce on to and slide over the line. 5-0.

A Sam Davies penalty five minutes later saw the visitors record their first points of the game. The Welsh region had been battling at the try line, and referee Dean Richards decided that Stuart Hooper had infringed in the red zone, awarding the penalty and showing a yellow card to Bath’s captain.

The Bath set-piece was largely dominant, providing a strong platform from which the home side could attack. Opsreys looshead Marc Thomas found himself spending 10 minutes on the sideline after a similar offence to Hooper’s, and the extra man advantage allowed Bath to get their next score. Another powerful drive from the lineout sent Max Lahiff powering over from short range for his first try in Bath colours with five minutes remaining of the first-half.

Half-time score: 10-3.

The second-half started in a similar fashion to the first, with neither side being able to work out a way to gain the advantage.

The intent was clear from the home side, with kicks at goal turned down in favour of kicks to touch and a chance to cross the tryline. Bath spent large periods of the second 40 hammering at the Ospreys 22, but the visiting defence stood strong, soaking up wave after wave of pressure. A yellow card to Aisea Natoga for a deliberate knock-on saw the Ospreys again reduced to 14 men, but Bath were unable to capitalise, despite their forward dominance.

A penalty from Davies 10 minutes from time reduced the deficit to four minutes, and the chance at victory lifted the Welsh region. An infringement from Bath on the half-way line enabled Davies to break, dart through the defence and offload to replacement Matthew Dwyer who was on his shoulder. The hooker charged over the line from close range, and with Davies’ conversion, the score won the game for the visitors at the death.

Final score: 10-13.

7TH FEBRUARY 2015 BATH V OSPREYS V BATH

Ospreys stole a late 10-13 win over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground this afternoon in the final round of the LV= Cup, ending the home sides hopes of qualification to the knock-out stages.

After an evenly matched opening quarter, Richard Lane got Bath on the scoreboard. Tom Ellis had gathered on to a loose ball, allowing Horacio Agulla, making his 50th appearance for the home side, to carve a sweeping run through the Ospreys defence. Ollie Devoto found Sam Burgess in space, and the centre put in a clever chip ahead for Lane to pounce on to and slide over the line. 5-0.

A Sam Davies penalty five minutes later saw the visitors record their first points of the game. The Welsh region had been battling at the try line, and referee Dean Richards decided that Stuart Hooper had infringed in the red zone, awarding the penalty and showing a yellow card to Bath’s captain.

The Bath set-piece was largely dominant, providing a strong platform from which the home side could attack. Opsreys looshead Marc Thomas found himself spending 10 minutes on the sideline after a similar offence to Hooper’s, and the extra man advantage allowed Bath to get their next score. Another powerful drive from the lineout sent Max Lahiff powering over from short range for his first try in Bath colours with five minutes remaining of the first-half.

Half-time score: 10-3.

The second-half started in a similar fashion to the first, with neither side being able to work out a way to gain the advantage.

The intent was clear from the home side, with kicks at goal turned down in favour of kicks to touch and a chance to cross the tryline. Bath spent large periods of the second 40 hammering at the Ospreys 22, but the visiting defence stood strong, soaking up wave after wave of pressure. A yellow card to Aisea Natoga for a deliberate knock-on saw the Ospreys again reduced to 14 men, but Bath were unable to capitalise, despite their forward dominance.

A penalty from Davies 10 minutes from time reduced the deficit to four minutes, and the chance at victory lifted the Welsh region. An infringement from Bath on the half-way line enabled Davies to break, dart through the defence and offload to replacement Matthew Dwyer who was on his shoulder. The hooker charged over the line from close range, and with Davies’ conversion, the score won the game for the visitors at the death.

Final score: 10-13.

15th FEBRUARY 2015 SARACENS V BATH

A spirited fightback from Bath Rugby at Allianz Park this afternoon was not enough to overcome Saracens, final score 34-24.

An even opening quarter which was brought to life by an electrifying break from Ollie Devoto, who shrugged off the challenge of the Saracens defence and gave debutant, Tom Homer, who had a solid start to life in Bath colours, the opportunity to nudge Bath in to a hard-fought 3-0 lead after 13 minutes.

Hodgson briefly brought parity between the two sides with a penalty shortly after Homer had put Bath in front. The scoreboard equality didn’t last long, however, as a few minutes later Chris Wyles slid over in the corner to put the home side ahead with the first try of the game. Hodgson uncharacteristically pushed the conversion wide of the uprights, and so kicking duties were handed to Alex Goode for the next attempt. The fullback slotted a penalty to increase Saracens’ lead after 30 minutes, but neither side increased their tally before the break.

Half-time: Saracens 11 – Bath Rugby 3.

The second-half got swiftly underway, but a penalty at the scrum gave Goode the chance to add to the host’s lead , making it 14-3 just three minutes after the restart. A period of pressure from Saracens ensued, before the second-half really exploded in to life.

A neat break from Saracens’ number 8, Jackson Wray, enabled the ball to be spread wide quickly, allowing Jamie George to crash over in the corner. With Goode adding the extras, the score stood at 21-3, but the visitors refused surrender. Having created good opportunities throughout the game, they finally converted one to bring themselves back into the game. Almost immediately from the re-start, Devoto made another purposeful break, slicing through the Saracens defence and putting through Semesa Rokoduguni, who ghosted to the line for Bath’s first try of the afternoon. Homer continued his good kicking form and slotted the extras. 21-10.

The end-to-end action didn’t stop there, though, as Saracens rallied with a move from the base of the scrum; Ashton latched on to a grubber kick and just beat replacement Micky Young to the touchdown. Goode duly converted to push the score out to 28-10.

Goode further increased Saracens’ lead to 31-10, before the sun emerged, as if to ignite Bath’s touch paper for the final 10 minutes. A Devoto kick to the corner produced a catch-and-drive opportunity for Bath, which they took with some aplomb. Kyle Eastmond found himself in the first receiver role, and a dummy line from Sam Burgess created space for Olly Woodburn to sneak through the gaping hole in the Saracens defence and slide in under the posts. A quick check with the TMO saw referee Luke Pearce award the score, before Homer swiftly added the extras and brought Bath back to 31-17 on 70 minutes.

Eastmond, buoyed by his part in Woodburn’s try, was quickly in the thick of the action again in the 74th minute, making a sharp break from the half-way line and feeding Rokoduguni, who guzzled the ground before him and ran in his second try from 30 metres. Homer was again on target from the tee, taking the visitors within seven points. However, with five minutes left to play, Saracens showed their ability to close out games and dragged themselves into the Bath half, earning a penalty and denying Bath the losing bonus point.

Final score: Saracens 34 – Bath Rugby 24.

21ST FEBRUARY 2015 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

Bath Rugby were unable to see off the advances of first-placed Northampton Saints at a sold-out Rec this afternoon, losing 13-21 to the East Midlands outfit.

Bath burst into life from the opening whistle, Kyle Eastmond receiving the ball outside the Saints 22 and appearing to fumble possession before offloading to Semesa Rokoduguni. The winger was caught in the corner, but the ball was quickly recycled to Tom Homer in midfield, and the fullback slung a long pass to Olly Woodburn. The winger showed remarkable balance to stay in touch before jogging over for the score, which Homer converted. 7-0.

Homer then kept the score ticking over with a good penalty kick after some devastating scrummaging by the home side, which gave Bath a 10-0 lead.

Saints struck back almost half an hour in, some frantic phases of attack leading to fullback James Wilson diving over in the left-hand corner. Myler missed with the conversion attempt. 10-5.

Mike Haywood, the Saints hooker, was then the beneficiary of some simple ball-through-the-hands work from his teammates, cutting back inside for the try. Myler made no mistake with his conversion this time.

Half time: Bath Rugby 10-12 Northampton Saints

Myler extended Saints’ lead to five points with a penalty in the 48th minute, after the visitors had gone close to a score after a Wilson grubber forced Rokoduguni to run the ball into touch.

The Saints fly-half kicked another penalty in the 52nd minute to make it 10-18.

Not long after, Homer made amends for an earlier penalty miss with a good three-pointer to draw the scores closer. 13-18.

The statistics will show that it was Myler who made all of his penalties count, and he did so again in the closing stages of the match to give Saints an unassailable 13-21 lead from which Bath disappointingly failed to recover.

Full time: Bath Rugby 13-21 Northampton Saints

28TH FEBRUARY 2015 EXETER V BATH

 

Bath Rugby’s unbeaten run in the Aviva Premiership against Exeter Chiefs came to an end today, losing 16-6 in a tense affair at Sandy Park.

The first points of the match came soon after kick-off, as Bath were awarded a penalty at the scrum (their second such penalty in as many minutes), and Tom Homer was presented with the opportunity in front of the Exeter posts and just a metre outside the 22. The fullback coolly made it 0-3 to register the first points of the match after six minutes.

Eleven minutes in, Chiefs fly-half Henry Slade drew the scores level after Bath had gone close to scoring the first try of the match. Sam Burgess had put Homer into a hole through which the fullback burst, then found Francois Louw. One phase later, though, Exeter had intercepted and, but for the determination of the chasing Homer, might have scored. The price Bath paid was a yellow card to Micky Young for what the referee deemed to be an off-the-ball tackle. 3-3.

Bath needed every inch of the commitment they got from their defence before the first half drew to a close, twice foiling the Chiefs as they lay siege to the visitors’ try line. Neither side had anything to show for their efforts until the 37th minute, as Bath had started to run some clever lines and then won a penalty in front of the home posts. Homer notched up a further three points to end a scrappy, error-strewn first half.

Half time: Exeter Chiefs 3 – 6 Bath Rugby 

A monster kick from Slade after the commencement of the second half drew the scores level as Bath were penalised at the scrum.

Twelve minutes from full time, Chiefs took the lead for the first time, but only after Bath’s defence had done everything in its power to keep the hosts from scoring a try. Slade was again the points scorer, slotting it from out wide. 9-6.

Chiefs put the game out of Bath’s reach on 74 minutes, patiently working their way across the Bath 22 until scrum-half Will Chudley saw the gap that allowed him to glide through for the only try of the match. Slade converted, and Exeter had their historic Premiership victory against Bath.

Full time: Exeter Chiefs 16-6 Bath Rugby

 

 

 29 MARCH 2015 LONDON WELSH V BATH

A brace of tries from Leroy Houston helped Bath Rugby to a bonus point 14-29 win against London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon, which moves the Club to third in the Aviva Premiership table.

Bath had gone close to scoring twice before in the opening minutes, but they were only able to land the first blow in the eleventh: a rolling maul allowing the tailgating Rob Webber to touch down in the corner. The wind being as strong as it was, Tom Homer’s conversion attempt in the face of the elements fell just short.

Houston then scored a superb solo effort, taking the ball at the front of Bath’s lineout in the home 22 and sprinting up the wing – not before palming off a defender – to score Bath’s second try. The force of the wind again managed to take the power out of Homer’s conversion attempt, blowing the ball back and denying Bath a further two points. 0-10.

Welsh responded in the 26th minute when, awarded a penalty in front of Bath’s posts, they took a quick tap and, after some heavy defensive hitting from Bath, centre Nic Reynolds found a gap to score. Fly-half Tristan Roberts converted to make it 7-10.

Bath weren’t able to make their set-piece dominance tell at the close of the second half, in spite of repeated scrum penalties awarded to them around the halfway mark, and the first half ended as the rain took a torrential turn.

Half time: London Welsh 7 – 10 Bath Rugby  

Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Bath had Welsh under the cosh inside the home 22. At the Welsh throw-in, Bath were quick to steal the ball, hooker Rob Webber and blinside Carl Fearns making good yards before Sam Burgess broke through two tackles to score. Homer converted. 7-17.

Bath continued to assert their superiority at the scrum, and as the final quarter approached, they opted again and again to pack down as Welsh were penalised. After three such penalties at the same scrum, Houston powered through for his second try of the match. The conversion was missed. 7-22.

The visitors struck a hammer blow by scoring almost immediately after the restart, when Fearns intercepted a pass inside the Welsh half, quickly popped to Matt Garvey, who found Alafoti Faosiliva to score the bonus point try. This time, with the wind at his back, Homer calmly slotted the two-pointer. 7-29

Welsh’s final response came, fittingly, from their standount player, number eight Opeti Fenua, who barged over in the 75th minute. Replacement Will Robinson made the impressive kick of the afternoon from the touchline to add the extras.

Full time: London Welsh 14 – 29 Bath Rugby

 

8TH MAY 2015 HARLEQUINS V BATH

Bath Rugby secured a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs tonight with a 26-27 win at Harlequins, their first Premiership win at the Stoop since 2004.

In a see-saw encounter the home side opened the scoring with Ugo Monye, making his last home appearance, latching on to a long pass from Nick Evans and racing over in the corner. The fly-half couldn’t find his angle to add the conversion. 5-0.

A stolen lineout was the catalyst for Bath’s first points. Leroy Houston broke from the melee, going on typically powerful run. The move broke down, but Francois Louw was on hand to win the penalty when Harlequins infringed, and George Ford bisected the posts. 5-3.

Houston and Louw were instrumental moments later in getting Bath’s first try. Taking a smart line off Kyle Eastmond, Houston once again bulldozed his way through the Quins defence. He found Louw on his shoulder five metres out with a neat offload, and the Springbok flew over the line. Ford added the extras. 5-10.

A drop-goal attempt from Ford went wide before Evans closed the gap with a penalty on 29 minutes, and the home side regained the lead two minutes before half-time – referee Greg Garner awarding a penalty try, which Evans converted.

Half-time: Harlequins 15 – Bath Rugby 10

Bath came out firing at the start of the second half and within five minutes the lead was back with them. Peter Stringer received the ball from the lineout and quickly found Horacio Agulla, who ran a superb line to score near the posts. Ford added the conversion. 15-17.

It looked as if Quins were going to reply almost straight away, but Matt Banahan sprinted back to catch George Lowe with an impressive try-saving tackle.

Evans nudged his side further ahead with a couple of penalties to continue the back and forth nature of the game, before Houston was once again in the thick of the action. Replacement prop Nick Auterac barged his way through a hole in the home defence before Sam Burgess found his back-row colleague Houston in the tiniest of gaps to crash over. Ford was once again on target with the conversion. 21-24.

Harlequins immediately responded with a try, Monye touching down for his second, although Evans was unable to convert.

But the visitors kept hunting for the winning points, and when Quins infringed at the lineout, Ford stepped up to take the 40m penalty. Straight and true, the ball sailed through the posts, and from there the visitors held on and secured their semi-final spot.

Final score: Harlequins 26 – Bath Rugby 27.

16th MAY 2015 BATH V GLOUCESTER

Bath Rugby warmed up for next week’s home Premiership Rugby semi-final against Leicester with a 50-30 victory at the Rec against Gloucester – making it six consecutive wins against their West Country rivals.

Despite strong pressure from Bath, Gloucester scored a well-worked try inside the first four minutes, cruising down the right wing before popping the ball back inside for number eight Lewis Ludlow to score. Fly-half Aled Thomas missed the conversion. 0-5.

On ten minutes, Peter Stringer gathered a fumbled ball at the lineout and Matt Banahan came on a bullocking charge against the grain. Banahan brought down, the ball made its way to Kyle Eastmond, who came on an arcing run then stepped gracefully inside the Gloucester defence to score. George Ford converted to give Bath the lead for the first time. 7-5.

Eastmond was at it again straight after the restart, showing blistering pace to outstrip the Gloucester backs. When he was finally caught, Eastmond sought to offload, only for the ball to hit a retreating defender. Fortunately for Bath, the ball deflected into Ford’s grateful hands and the fly-half scored in the left corner. Ford was also able to add the two points. 14-5.

Bath were unable to quite pull clear, as Gloucester fly-half Aled Thomas made it 14-8 with a penalty kick with 15 minutes left in the first act. However, Bath had another trick up their sleeve. With a penalty quite literally in hand inside the visitors’ 22, Ford made as if to kick to touch, only to tap and pass to Leroy Houston. The number eight’s hit-up was effective, and in the melee the ball was shipped from Ford to Burgess, and the blindside scythed through powerfully for the team’s third try. Ford could do no wrong with the tee in the first half either, further extending his side’s lead. 21-8.

In the final minute of play, the visitors made Bath pay for a poor kick and chase when they intercepted the ball. Their counterattack caught Bath unaware as some fast passing put wing Steve McColl in for Gloucester’s second try. Thomas watched his conversion attempt fall short, but Gloucester were now back in contention as the first half came to a close.

Half time: Bath Rugby 21-13 Gloucester

Gloucester started the second half strongly, taking their favoured route up the wing. Bath took a quick throw but were collared inside their 22 where they coughed up a penalty, kicked by Thomas. 21-16.

Ford then cancelled out Thomas’s penalty with one of his own from just outside the Gloucester 10m. 24-16. A series of re-set scrums in Gloucester’s 22 eventually resulted in their captain, Nick Wood, being yellow-carded. Ford then kicked the ball to touch.where Bath won the lineout. As the forwards inched closer to the Gloucester line, outside centre Ollie Devoto joined the fray and dived through for the try, which Ford converted. 31-16.

Bath had just set off on a fantastic run, with Burgess and Houston the catalysts, when Gloucester interecepted and McColl scored his second try of the match, which Thomas was able to convert. 31-23.

Horacio Agulla, fresh on the field, made an instant impact for Bath. Replacement loosehead Nick Auterac stole the ball from Gloucester which enabled the Argentinean to take the ball up. Agulla found Devoto, who stood strong in the tackle to send the ball wide where Anthony Watson dotted down. Replacement kicker Homer missed the converison attempt. 36-23.

It wasn’t long before it was 43-23: a Bath lineout in the visitors’ 22 turned into a drive, then breakdown, until the ball made its was to Rokoduguni who came in off his wing to take the five points. Homer converted. 43-23.

The damage may have been irreversibly done to Gloucester, but the men from Kingsholm continued to put up a fight. Replacement scrum-half Dan Robson did a show-and-go to score from a Gloucester lineout in Bath’s 22, and Thomas made easy work of a tough conversion. 43-30.

Off the back of that try, Bath kicked into another gear. Awarded a penalty in the Gloucester half, a quick tap and pass saw the ball fall into the hands of Agulla, who scorched through the opponents to score the final try of the match. Homer added the extras and the game was up.

Full time: Bath Rugby 50-30 Gloucester

23 MAY 2015 BATH V LEICESTER

Bath Rugby survived going down to 13 men at one point to run away with a 47-10 victory against Leicester Tigers – one which takes them to their first Aviva Premiership Final since 2004.

The home side were quick to score. Shortly after the kick-off, Semesa Rokoduguni was obstructed in the process of taking a high ball. George Ford kicked the penalty on halfway to touch on Tigers’ 22. Bath won the lineout and, when Jonathan Joseph spotted a gap, he glided through it and passed to Matt Banahan for the try. Ford took a fantastic touchline kick to make the conversion and the score 7-0.

Tigers ten Freddie Burns registered his side’s first points of the match on 24 minutes with a penalty kick. Bath’s response was sudden: winning the ball back at the restart, Francois Louw and Ross Batty did the damage at close quarters and then some delicate passing from Ford and Joseph put Banahan in for his second. Ford struck an identical touchline conversion to his first one to take it to 14-3.

The crowd then truly reached fever pitch when Rokoduguni rounded his opposite number on halfway, then chipped the Leicester fullback. Kyle Eastmond, sensing something was on, sprinted in support and received a generous bounce to score the try, converted by Ford. 21-3.

Bath found themselves down to 13 men with over ten minutes remaining in the first half. Despite heroic defence, including stifling the Tigers’ renowned maul, the personnel deficit eventually told when Tigers hooker Tom Youngs dived over for their first try of the match, converted by Burns.

The teams went into half time with the home side taking a ten-point lead.

Half time: Bath Rugby 21-10 Leicester Tigers

While the first half of the match will be remembered for three well-worked tries from Bath, the second started as a tale of gutsy defensive work from the home side (and, of course, some relentless carrying from Tigers).

Nearing the final quarter, it was as if Bath had bided their time enough. Carl Fearns, on at six as a replacement, made the initial break in Tigers’ half. Francois Louw came in support and took the ball further upfield, before passing to Peter Stringer who finished off the rousing passage of play. Ford made it 28-10 with his conversion.

The game was put to bed a matter of minutes later, when Rokoduguni made a break up the blindside, drew his man and fed the ball to Ford, who dived over in the right-hand corner for his second Premiership try of the season. He was unable to convert his own try, but the damage was already done at 33-10.

It is hard to believe that there was more to come, but that was indeed the case, with Watson making a bamboozling run into the heart of the Tigers defence and feeding Banahan for the Jerseyman’s hat-trick, which Ford converted. 40-10.

There was time for one last try – and this one just as good as the others – when Watson went over for himself, showing too much pace for the Tigers defence to react in time and scoring under the posts. Ford ensured that the last act of the match was his conversion against his former side. 47-10.

With that done, Bath march on to a Premiership final at Twickenham against the other semi-final victors, Saracens.

Full time: Bath Rugby 47-10 Leicester Tigers

30th MAY 2015 BATH V SARACENS

Bath Rugby were unable to recover from the first-half dominance of Saracens in the Aviva Premiership Final, suffering a 16-28 defeat at Twickenham.

Saracens signalled their intent early on, played the ball wide in the back three and, as it moved to Bath’s right wing, Owen Farrell displayed a cute show-and-go to run over unopposed. The fly-half added the extra two points. 0-7.

Bath then watched in despair as Saracens intercepted a dropped ball inside the West Countrymen’s half; Saracens hooker Jamie George showing impressive speed to evade the backtracking defenders to make it over the try line. Farrell missed with his conversion. 0-12.

Farrell struck another penalty shortly thereafter following a collapsed scrum in the Bath 22 to take his side 15 points clear.

It took almost half an hour for Bath to register any points on the board. Semesa Rokoduguni, who had shown glimmers of danger throughout the opening exchanges, was obstructed by Alex Goode, allowing the Bath fly-half to knock over a penalty. 3-15.

Just when Bath thought they were back in the game, Saracens endeavoured to intercept another pass. While Jonathan Joseph did outstandingly well to tap tackle Duncan Taylor before the centre got to the try line, Saracens wasted little time in throwing the ball wide and finding Chris Wyles for their third try, converted by Farrell. 3-22.

It must have appeared to be plain sailing for Farrell when, with two minutes left in the half, he kicked another penalty to take his tally in the first 40 to 15 points.

Half time: Bath Rugby 3-25 Saracens

Ford made it 6-25 after a decent start from the ‘home’ pack saw Bath drive a maul into Saracens’ 22. As the ball went wide, Joseph was tackled high, allowing the fly-half another three-pointer. 6-25.

Bath then won two penalties in succession, leading to a lineout in Sarries’ 22. After two minutes of being camped on Saracens’ 5m line, Stringer looked outside him and passed to Joseph who, fancying his chances, stretched the opposition with an arcing run to score Bath’s first try. They needed the extra points and Ford duly delivered them with his conversion. 13-25.

Another penalty from Ford took the scores to 16-25, only for his kick to be cancelled out by Farrell with 18 minutes to go in the match. 16-28.

As had been the case throughout much of the game, Bath were constantly playing catch-up and, although it did force their play on occasion, they played some beautiful passages of rugby.

Alas, it was too late for the men in Blue, Black and White – who lost fullback Anthony Watson in the opening exchanges of the match to a head injury from a high tackle – to launch any meaningful attack and Saracens wound down the clock to seal the win and earn themselves the title of Champions of England.

Full time: Bath Rugby 16-28 Saracens

 

 

 

 

This page was added on 22/10/2019.

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