2015-2016

by Brian jenkins

2015-2016 Match Reports

10th SEPTEMBER 2015 BATH V EXETER

The eleventh Premiership Rugby encounter between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs went down to the wire at the Rec this afternoon, with the home side edging the season-opening match 19-17. 

The first half started brightly for Bath as fullback Tom Homer broke through two tacklers in Exeter’s half, before knocking on in contact. Chiefs played the advantage, and it proved to be just that as the ball found James Short, the wing scoring a near length-of-the-field effort. Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson was unable to convert, but Exeter were buoyed scoring a try with less than a minute on the clock.

The home side were able to register their first points of the match through fly-half George Ford minutes later as the Bath pack won a penalty at the scrum. 3-5.

Before the first ten minutes were up, Steenson had furthered his side’s lead with a penalty a metre outside the home 22. 3-8.

From that moment until the half-time whistle was blown, Bath were made to defend for extended periods of time as Exeter launched attack after attack. Nevertheless, the home defence held firm and displayed great patience.

Bath’s moment came half an hour in. Ford, in possession on halfway, popped a league-style pass over the head of an onrushing Chief. His pass was received by Anthony Watson, who drew his man on the wing and offloaded to none other than captain Stuart Hooper, who galloped in for an astonishing try.

Ford gave Bath the lead for the first time as he converted Hooper’s try to take the score to 10-8.

The home side looked to hold onto their lead as the first 40 ticked down, but it wasn’t to be: Matt Banahan was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Steenson closed out the half with a penalty.

Half time: Bath Rugby 10-11 Exeter Chiefs 

Despite still being one man down, it was Bath who notched up the first points in the second half, as Ford’s penalty saw them take the lead. 13-11.

The lead wasn’t long-lived, as Steenson cancelled out Ford’s with a penalty of his own. It was tit-for-tat once again, though, as Ford punished Chiefs’ indiscretion at the ruck with another penalty. 16-14.

With 14 minutes remaining in the match, and Bath defending for all they were worth in their 22, replacement flanker Sam Burgess was shown a yellow in front of his posts. From there, Steenson made it a one-point affair. 16-17.

Only three minutes were left when Bath and George Ford struck the decisive blow with a penalty inside Exeter’s 22. Decisive with hindsight, that is, since Bath soon found themselves having to defend for all they were worth in the final seconds of the match thanks to a lineout stolen by Chiefs.

In the event, and painful to watch as it was for the home support, Bath’s defence proved watertight, and replacement centre Henry Slade dropped a futile kick at goal to end proceedings.

Full time: Bath Rugby 19-17 Exeter Chiefs 

17TH OCTOBER 2015 BATH V EXETER

 The eleventh Premiership Rugby encounter between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs went down to the wire at the Rec this afternoon, with the home side edging the season-opening match 19-17. 

The first half started brightly for Bath as fullback Tom Homer broke through two tacklers in Exeter’s half, before knocking on in contact. Chiefs played the advantage, and it proved to be just that as the ball found James Short, the wing scoring a near length-of-the-field effort. Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson was unable to convert, but Exeter were buoyed scoring a try with less than a minute on the clock.

The home side were able to register their first points of the match through fly-half George Ford minutes later as the Bath pack won a penalty at the scrum. 3-5.

Before the first ten minutes were up, Steenson had furthered his side’s lead with a penalty a metre outside the home 22. 3-8.

From that moment until the half-time whistle was blown, Bath were made to defend for extended periods of time as Exeter launched attack after attack. Nevertheless, the home defence held firm and displayed great patience.

Bath’s moment came half an hour in. Ford, in possession on halfway, popped a league-style pass over the head of an onrushing Chief. His pass was received by Anthony Watson, who drew his man on the wing and offloaded to none other than captain Stuart Hooper, who galloped in for an astonishing try.

Ford gave Bath the lead for the first time as he converted Hooper’s try to take the score to 10-8.

The home side looked to hold onto their lead as the first 40 ticked down, but it wasn’t to be: Matt Banahan was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Steenson closed out the half with a penalty.

Half time: Bath Rugby 10-11 Exeter Chiefs 

Despite still being one man down, it was Bath who notched up the first points in the second half, as Ford’s penalty saw them take the lead. 13-11.

The lead wasn’t long-lived, as Steenson cancelled out Ford’s with a penalty of his own. It was tit-for-tat once again, though, as Ford punished Chiefs’ indiscretion at the ruck with another penalty. 16-14.

With 14 minutes remaining in the match, and Bath defending for all they were worth in their 22, replacement flanker Sam Burgess was shown a yellow in front of his posts. From there, Steenson made it a one-point affair. 16-17.

Only three minutes were left when Bath and George Ford struck the decisive blow with a penalty inside Exeter’s 22. Decisive with hindsight, that is, since Bath soon found themselves having to defend for all they were worth in the final seconds of the match thanks to a lineout stolen by Chiefs.

In the event, and painful to watch as it was for the home support, Bath’s defence proved watertight, and replacement centre Henry Slade dropped a futile kick at goal to end proceedings.

Full time: Bath Rugby 19-17 Exeter Chiefs 

25TH OCTOBER 2015 WASPS V BATH

Bath Rugby lost 16-9 to a determined Wasps side in what was the Club’s first trip to the Ricoh Arena, but won a losing bonus point thanks to a late rally. 

The first half, dominated as it was by the aerial battle, saw its first score 20 minutes in when Bath went offside inside their own 22. Wasps fly-half Jimmy Gopperth stepped up to give his side the lead: 3-0.

Ten minutes later, successive penalties to Bath at the breakdown gave George Ford the chance to draw the scores level – which he did  with a penalty kick inside the Wasps 22. 3-3.

Gopperth cancelled out Ford’s effort with six minutes remaining in the first half from a central position. 6-3 was how the score remained going into half time.

Wasps had gone closest to scoring in the first half, and on more than one occasion, but Bath’s patience and defensive resolve was telling at the midway stage.

Half-time: Wasps 6-3 Bath Rugby

In the 54th minute, after a series of Wasps offensives in the Bath 22, something had to give. Scrum-half Niko Matawalu, on his first start for the Club, was yellow-carded for an obstruction and Wasps were awarded a penalty try. Gopperth’s conversion in front of the posts gave them a 10-point lead.

The Kiwi fly-half added another three points on the hour mark following a Bath indiscretion at a ruck, pulling the game away from the visitors. 16-3.

Ford finally got a chance to strike back with a penalty of his own as the final fifteen minutes approached, after Bath’s pack had flexed its considerable muscles at a scrum. 16-6.

Another Ford penalty soon thereafter to make it 16-9 meant Bath were in with a shot of getting a result against the odds. With minutes left on the clock, they rumbled forward in the home 22, only for a forward pass to hand possession back to Wasps.

Less than a minute was left on the clock when Wasps, with the put-in at the scrum, won a penalty with a huge shove. Gopperth put the penalty kick into the stand to end the match.

Final score: Wasps 16-9 Bath Rugby

25TH OCTOBER 2015 WASPS V BATH

Bath Rugby lost 16-9 to a determined Wasps side in what was the Club’s first trip to the Ricoh Arena, but won a losing bonus point thanks to a late rally. 

The first half, dominated as it was by the aerial battle, saw its first score 20 minutes in when Bath went offside inside their own 22. Wasps fly-half Jimmy Gopperth stepped up to give his side the lead: 3-0.

Ten minutes later, successive penalties to Bath at the breakdown gave George Ford the chance to draw the scores level – which he did  with a penalty kick inside the Wasps 22. 3-3.

Gopperth cancelled out Ford’s effort with six minutes remaining in the first half from a central position. 6-3 was how the score remained going into half time.

Wasps had gone closest to scoring in the first half, and on more than one occasion, but Bath’s patience and defensive resolve was telling at the midway stage.

Half-time: Wasps 6-3 Bath Rugby

In the 54th minute, after a series of Wasps offensives in the Bath 22, something had to give. Scrum-half Niko Matawalu, on his first start for the Club, was yellow-carded for an obstruction and Wasps were awarded a penalty try. Gopperth’s conversion in front of the posts gave them a 10-point lead.

The Kiwi fly-half added another three points on the hour mark following a Bath indiscretion at a ruck, pulling the game away from the visitors. 16-3.

Ford finally got a chance to strike back with a penalty of his own as the final fifteen minutes approached, after Bath’s pack had flexed its considerable muscles at a scrum. 16-6.

Another Ford penalty soon thereafter to make it 16-9 meant Bath were in with a shot of getting a result against the odds. With minutes left on the clock, they rumbled forward in the home 22, only for a forward pass to hand possession back to Wasps.

Less than a minute was left on the clock when Wasps, with the put-in at the scrum, won a penalty with a huge shove. Gopperth put the penalty kick into the stand to end the match.

Final score: Wasps 16-9 Bath Rugby

31ST OCTOBER 2015 BATH V HARLEQUINS

Despite a strong finish, the free-running Harlequins and a high penalty count saw Bath Rugby lose 28-38 in Round 3 of the Aviva Premiership.

Bath thought they were over for a try when Kyle Eastmond latched onto a fumbled ball at Quins’ lineout in the third minute, only for play to be brought back for a knock-on by the home team.

Instead it was to be Quins who drew first blood with a Nick Evans penalty six minutes in, as Bath were found guilty of not rolling away at the ruck. 0-3.

Soon it was 3-3 after Bath enjoyed successive penalties in the process of breaching their opponents’ 22 – George Ford doing the honours. Evans negated that with a penalty of his own in the 17th minute after a frustrating series of re-set scrums in front of the Bath posts. 3-6.

Bath had been threatening a breakthrough on several occasions in the first half (with forwards Max Lahiff, Leroy Houston and Guy Mercer particularly devastating with the ball in hand), but it finally came near the half-hour mark as Ollie Devoto fired a miss-pass to centre partner Kyle Eastmond on the wing for the try.

Ford’s touchline conversion was the icing on the cake for that first score, which came on the back of a bludgeoning run by Rob Webber, and gave Bath the lead for the first time in the match. 10-9.

Quins caught Bath napping straight after restart, as powerful wings Tim Visser and Marland Yarde combined to haul play up to Bath’s 22. Mercer made what was likely a try-saving tackle on Yarde, only for Bath to be penalised soon thereafter. Evans’s kick regained the lead for Quins, but it was the home team who went into the half-time break in front with a Ford penalty two minutes from the whistle.

Half Time: Bath Rugby 13-12 Harlequins

A less than ideal start to Bath’s second half saw Quins kick a successful penalty (Evans again) and score a converted try within the first five minutes of play.

The try came through an unfortunate bounce for the Bath defence, although it was fortunate for the kicker, scrum-half Danny Care, who regathered the ball and scrambled over for the try. Evans converted to make it 13-22.

Bath’s problems were compounded by Quins’ next visit to the home half, as Evans kicked another penalty. 13-25.

Despite Semesa Rokoduguni’s try-saving tackle on Mike Brown, Evans stretched Quins’ lead further in that 54th minute after another penalty. 13-28.

The home team were finally given some reprieve as the referee awarded them a penalty three minutes later, Ford making it 16-28 from in front of the posts.

Those three points offered little succour to Bath, though, as no sooner were they on the board than Evans struck another penalty in front of the home posts to make it a 15-point game once again. 16-31.

Bath couldn’t find the break they needed and were being mercilessly punished by the referee’s whistle. When Eastmond was sent to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle with barely 10 minutes remaining, Quins used their numerical advantage to see through another try, this time through replacement hooker Dave Ward. Evans made light work of the conversion. 16-38.

The home team somehow found the wherewithal to work their way back up the field unpenalised, where from a lineout in Quins’ 22 they formed a strong driving maul. Replacement loosehead Nick Auterac scored the try on 75 minutes, whilst Ford’s kick was unlucky to bounce off the upright. 21-38.

Unbowed, Bath sought a strong finish to the game, and were duly rewarded when Ford put in a crisp pass to Rokoduguni, the winger making an inch of space look like an acre as he crossed for the try.

Ford finished what had been a tough afternoon for Bath with an excellent touchline conversion.

Full Time: Bath Rugby 28-38 Harlequins 

7th NOVEMBER 2016 BATH V LONDON IRISH

Six tries for Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium saw them power to a 14-45 bonus point win over London Irish this afternoon.

An action-packed first-half began with Kyle Eastmond scything his way through the London Irish defence. The move was halted illegally, providing Rhys Priestland with the opportunity to start the scoreboard ticking over with an early three points. Shane Geraghty was given the chance to draw the home side level, but his kick drifted wide. 0-3.

The visiting pack established an early dominance as a scrum followed by a lineout, both five metres out, saw Leroy Houston bundled over from short range to score the first try of the game. Priestland, with a little help from the inside of the upright, added the two extra points, giving Bath a 10 point lead.

A yellow card for Alafoti Faosiliva after a high tackle on Irish centre Tom Fowlie in the 18th minute kick-started an incident filled period of the game, that also provided a huge turning point.  It looked as if Bath would be down to 13-men when referee Thomas Foley charged Matt Garvey with bringing down the Irish maul illegally from five metres out. Garvey was shown a yellow card, and Foley awarded the home side a penalty try. However, Foley’s attention was drawn to an incident in the build-up, and footage from the Television Match Official showed Brendan McKibbin making contact with the head of Henry Thomas from the back of the maul. McKibbin was sent off for the remainder of the game, and the try and Garvey’s yellow card were both rescinded.

Priestland had dispatched the resulting penalty to touch and from the lineout Ollie Devoto blasted through a gap to cross the whitewash. Priestland was again on target with the conversion, and Bath were 17 points to the good after 22 minutes.

Irish’s decision to sacrifice a wing for the specialised skill-set of a scrum-half seemed to pay off on the 27th minutes as replacement Scott Steele found his way over the line. Geraghty added the two. 7-17.

Neither side made much headway in the final minutes of the half, although the game was once more reduced to 14 v 14 after Devoto was shown a yellow card after a late barge on opposing fly-half, Geraghty.

Half-time: London Irish 7 – Bath Rugby 17.

Two quick-fire tries from Bath meant the second half started with a bang.

Chris Cook raced along the left touchline from a quickly taken lineout to set-up Faosiliva to cross from five metres out, before Rokoduguni made similar yards on the right wing. The winger had Eastmond on his shoulder in support, setting up an easy touch down for the centre to secure the bonus point. Fullback Tom Homer converted both tries, kicking well on his old ground. 7-31.

Despite being a man down, the home side attacked valiantly, and after a number of phases centre Fergus Mulchrone was driven over from close range. 14-31.

With the Bath lineout continuing to supply good clean ball  Priestland was the next to score, after he picked a beautiful running line to exploit a gap in defence and glide through to the line. Replacement George Ford added the conversion.

Playing from deep, Rokoduguni was once again on hand to set-up the final try of the game, this time for his fellow Fijian, replacement Niko Matawalu. Rokoduguni charged from his own line and chipped ahead. The Irish defender, Aseli Tikoirotuma, slipped trying to gather the ball, and it sat up neatly for Matawalu to pounce on and score. Ford’s conversion came with the final kick of the game, rounding off a comfortable victory for Bath.

Final score: London Irish 14 – Bath Rugby 45.

21ST NOVEMBER 2015 BATH V LEINSTER

Bath Rugby gained some vengeance for their quarter-final Champions Cup defeat against Leinster last season, beating the Irish province 19-16 tonight in front of a record crowd at the Rec.

A frenetic opening ten minutes had only a Johnny Sexton penalty to show for either side’s endeavours to run the ball, the fly-half kicking a straight-down-the-line penalty for a 0-3 lead.

At a re-set Bath scrum minutes later, the home side turned the screw on Leinster’s pack and won a penalty that George Ford struck successfully to draw the scores level: 3-3.

At the end of the first quarter, with no let-up in the Leinster defence forthcoming, scrum-half Chris Cook spun a crisp pass to Ford, who sat in the pocket to snap a drop goal.

Sexton missed an ambitious long-range penalty to give Bath a slight lead going into half time.

Half time: Bath Rugby 6-3 Leinster 

The commencement of the second half came with roars of satisfaction from the home crowd as Bath not only won a scrum against the head, but then proceeded to win a penalty at said scrum. Ford made it count with three points. 9-3.

Sexton ensured Leinster were still in the game with over half an hour left, striking a penalty near the home 22. Fewer than ten minutes later, the Ireland international brought things level with a further penalty. 9-9.

Bath’s forwards, consistently excellent throughout the match, seemed to have struck the decisive blow on the hour when their commanding scrum on the Leinster 5m garnered the home side a penalty try, converted by Ford. 16-9.

Leinster played a penalty advantage in the 69th minute and reaped the rewards as flanker Josh van der Flier cruised through to score. Sexton was on hand with the conversion to equalise. 16-16.

Bath’s imposing pack again exerted themselves on the game with minutes left on the clock, allowing Ford a shot at goal from out wide. The unflappable fly-half made light work of the difficult shot to take the lead for Bath. 19-16.

In the 78th minute, Bath saw replacement back row Alafoti Faosiliva yellow-carded for a reckless tackle. At the resulting lineout, the home crowd was ecstatic as lock Dave Attwood pinched the Leinster ball. From there, Bath were able to hold on and see out a famous victory against the three-time European champions.

Full time: Bath Rugby 19-16 Leinster

29TH NOVEMBER 2015 BATH V LEICESTER

 Bath Rugby lost 21-11 to Leicester Tigers this afternoon in a frustrating Aviva Premiership encounter at Welford Road. 

Bath scored their only try in the seventh minute, following a spectacular dummy pass from Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu, which found Matt Banahan (on his 200th appearance for Bath). The winger then passed to the supporting Anthony Watson for a breathtaking team try. Fly-half George Ford’s conversion attempt was inches wide of the upright. 0-5.

At the next scrum, the penalty went Tigers’ way in an advantageous position for Tigers 10 Tommy Bell, who made it 3-5.

Bath were looking in with a strong chance of a try after half an hour, only to throw the winning pass straight into the grateful hands of the onrushing Telusa Veainu; the Tigers wing haring away for the score. Thanks to the chasing Ford, Veainu was only able to touch down in the corner, and the difficult conversion attempt was wide from Bell.

However, Bell saw to it that he was on point with his next attempt at goal after crept offside in their own 22.

Half time: Leicester Tigers 11-5 Bath Rugby

Three minutes into the second act, Ford added three points to the Bath score as the visitors won a scrum penalty. This was was followed up seven minutes later by an excellent penalty kick from the touchline, again by Ford, bringing the scores level. 11-11.

Over an hour gone, Bell atoned for a horribly skewed penalty attempt minutes earlier, making it 14-11 with the tee from a central position.

With fewer than ten minutes remaining, and Tigers’ maul rumbling towards the Bath line, debutant David Denton was shown a yellow card as the visitors did all they could to prevent conceding the try.

Whilst Tigers didn’t score in the immediate aftermath, it was a Pyrrhic victory as England prop Dan Cole scored a try a couple of minutes that was adjudged by the TMO not to have been knocked on in the act.

Bell was successful with his conversion from an awkward angle and Tigers held out till the final whistle, with Bath botching some good chances in the dying minutes.

Full time: Leicester Tigers 21-11 Bath Rugby

 

5TH DECEMBER 2015 NORTHAMPTON V BATH

Bath Rugby narrowly lost 11-13 this afternoon to Northampton Saints in a tight encounter in front of a record 13,506 strong crowd.

The first half started tentatively with both teams coming into this game having only won two of their opening five fixtures, and it was clear from the start neither team wanted to lose.

The only points to come in this half were from the boot of Saints fly-half JJ Hanrahan after he converted one of several penalties Bath were to give away in the first act. It was a scrappy first half, with both teams making errors, the scrum count was mounting and frustratingly for the home supporters it was Bath giving away the lion’s share.

An exaggerated amount of scrums were causing the game to slow down and lose much-needed momentum before it had a chance to gather.

There were some glimmers of hope with the return from injury of England centre Jonathon Joseph, who linked well with Anthony Watson and Matt Banahan. Semesa Rokoduguni stood out for his hard running – and equally hard tackling.

Bath tighthead Henry Thomas saw yellow at a collapsed scrum with five minutes of the first half remaining. Saints pressure grew but the Bath back line held strong and the score stayed 0-3 when as the half time whistle blew.

Half time: Bath Rugby 0-3 Northampton Saints

Bath came out for the second half rejuvenated and looking strong. Northampton prop Ethan Waller was lucky to escape any punishment after a high tackle on scrum-half Chris Cook which drew boos and jeers from the home faithful.

Two minutes in, George Ford drew Bath level with a penalty after some good pressure forced a Northampton mistake, and the atmosphere around the ground began to grow. However, the hope was short-lived: Ford, caught in no-man’s land in his 22 by a Northampton blitz and unable to clear, opted for a looping pass that Saints centre Luther Burrell read and intercepted to run in under the posts. Hanrahan converted and gave Saints a 3-10 lead.

Ford added another penalty to make it 6-10 soon thereafter, and Bath then managed to take the lead with less than 20 minutes remaining. The forwards worked hard and patiently through numerous phases to get the ball to Joseph who found Watson, who in turn found Rokoduguni, the winger gathering a head of steam to run through the gain line and give a stiff hand-off to the oncoming Saints defender. Rokoduguni then sprinted over to touch down and give the home crowd something to cheer about. Ford missed the touchline conversion but Bath held a slender 11-10 lead.

With eight minutes remaining in the match, Bath gave away another penalty at the scrum and, seizing the opportunity, Hanrahan went for the posts and gave saints a two-point lead. 11-13.

Despite a resilient attempt to swing the momentum back in their favour, Bath were unable to capitalize on any more (admittedly dazzling) play and the Saints turned the ball over to allow replacement fly-half Stephen Myler to kick to touch and in the process bring the curtain down on a frustrating afternoon for the home side.

Final Score: Bath Rugby 11 – 13 Northampton Saints

Report by Samual Sims

5 DECEMBER 2015 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

 Bath Rugby narrowly lost 11-13 this afternoon to Northampton Saints in a tight encounter in front of a record 13,506 strong crowd.

The first half started tentatively with both teams coming into this game having only won two of their opening five fixtures, and it was clear from the start neither team wanted to lose.

The only points to come in this half were from the boot of Saints fly-half JJ Hanrahan after he converted one of several penalties Bath were to give away in the first act. It was a scrappy first half, with both teams making errors, the scrum count was mounting and frustratingly for the home supporters it was Bath giving away the lion’s share.

An exaggerated amount of scrums were causing the game to slow down and lose much-needed momentum before it had a chance to gather.

There were some glimmers of hope with the return from injury of England centre Jonathon Joseph, who linked well with Anthony Watson and Matt Banahan. Semesa Rokoduguni stood out for his hard running – and equally hard tackling.

Bath tighthead Henry Thomas saw yellow at a collapsed scrum with five minutes of the first half remaining. Saints pressure grew but the Bath back line held strong and the score stayed 0-3 when as the half time whistle blew.

Half time: Bath Rugby 0-3 Northampton Saints

Bath came out for the second half rejuvenated and looking strong. Northampton prop Ethan Waller was lucky to escape any punishment after a high tackle on scrum-half Chris Cook which drew boos and jeers from the home faithful.

Two minutes in, George Ford drew Bath level with a penalty after some good pressure forced a Northampton mistake, and the atmosphere around the ground began to grow. However, the hope was short-lived: Ford, caught in no-man’s land in his 22 by a Northampton blitz and unable to clear, opted for a looping pass that Saints centre Luther Burrell read and intercepted to run in under the posts. Hanrahan converted and gave Saints a 3-10 lead.

Ford added another penalty to make it 6-10 soon thereafter, and Bath then managed to take the lead with less than 20 minutes remaining. The forwards worked hard and patiently through numerous phases to get the ball to Joseph who found Watson, who in turn found Rokoduguni, the winger gathering a head of steam to run through the gain line and give a stiff hand-off to the oncoming Saints defender. Rokoduguni then sprinted over to touch down and give the home crowd something to cheer about. Ford missed the touchline conversion but Bath held a slender 11-10 lead.

With eight minutes remaining in the match, Bath gave away another penalty at the scrum and, seizing the opportunity, Hanrahan went for the posts and gave saints a two-point lead. 11-13.

Despite a resilient attempt to swing the momentum back in their favour, Bath were unable to capitalize on any more (admittedly dazzling) play and the Saints turned the ball over to allow replacement fly-half Stephen Myler to kick to touch and in the process bring the curtain down on a frustrating afternoon for the home side.

Final Score: Bath Rugby 11 – 13 Northampton Saints

Report by Samual Sims

 

 

13 DECEMBER 2015 WASPS V BATH

Bath Rugby recorded their second victory of this season’s European Rugby Champions Cup with a last-gasp win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena, 23-25.

With Wasps 23-18 up in the final seconds of the game, fullback Anthony Watson raced over in the corner to draw level. All eyes were on George Ford as he lined up the touchline conversion, but the fly-half took his time and steadied himself, sending the ball straight and true through the middle of the posts to seal the win.

The intent of both teams to play fast, expansive rugby was clear in the opening minutes. First, a superb take in the air from Semesa Rokoduguni saw the winger sprint over the line after two minutes, but referee Jerome Garces had spotted a knock-on so no score was awarded. Moments later Wasps thought they had scored through James Haskell, but the Television Match Official ruled no try. They were awarded a penalty though, and Ruaridh Jackson dutifully sent the ball sailing through the posts to open the scoring. 3-0.

Ford drew the visitors level after a sniping break from Niko Matawalu nearly led to a try for the scrum-half. As it was, he was hauled short but the penalty from Ford got Bath on the scoreboard. 3-3.

A strong defensive tackle from Academy lock Tom Ellis on Jackson created the first try of the game on 14 minutes. The fly-half lost the ball in contact and Jonathan Joseph showed his quick reactions to scoop it up and sprint to the line. Ford added the conversion. 3-10.

Elliot Daly reduced the arrears to four points shortly after with a trademark long-range penalty, before live-wire Matawalu created havoc in the Wasps defence. The Fijian pounced onto a spilt ball from Haskell, but was kept from collecting his own chip ahead. Joe Simpson tried to clear the danger for the home side, only for his kick to find Watson out wide. The fullback gathered and passed to Matawalu, who rampaged down the wing with Matt Banahan on his shoulder. All that was needed was a simple pass inside to the giant winger, who strolled over for the visitors’ second try of the game. 6-15.

Whilst Bath may have had the better of the scoreboard, Wasps weren’t letting them have it all their own way on the pitch. Two successive penalties from Jackson in the closing stages of the half meant there was just a three point gap between the two sides as the half-time whistle blew.

Half-time: Wasps 12 – Bath Rugby 15

Ford extended the lead after the forwards had earnt the penalty at the scrum, but Jackson quickly replied in kind, and the home side  went on to enjoy their most dominant phase of the game. Wave after wave of pressure was soaked up by the Bath defence, before they were stretched too wide and Rob Miller went over in the corner. 20-18.

Replacement Jimmy Gopperth looked to have wrapped-up the victory for the home side with a penalty on the 74th minute, but instead an incredibly tense ending played out, with Bath not willing to settle for a draw when offered the chance to take three points.

Instead, captain and Heineken Man of the Match Francois Louw pointed to the corner. Successive lineout drives were strong from the Bath pack, and Wasps were left with no choice but to stop them illegally – first replacement prop  Lorenzo Cittadini and then flanker George Smith saw yellow, leaving the home side with just 13 men to defend their lead.

With time up on the clock, and Bath again with penalty advantage after Smith’s dismissal, Louw signalled to go for the scrum five metres from the line. With Wasps unable to field a complete front-row, an uncontested scrum was taken, and it gave Bath the platform to spread the ball left and right. A series of pick and goes from the forwards inched Bath closer to the line, before the ball was flung wide to Watson to score. A quick check with the TMO confirmed the try, and then it was just down to Ford to add the conversion and the valuable extra two points.

Final score: Wasps 23 – Bath Rugby 25.

19 DECEMBER 2015 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby were unable to emulate their heroics of last weekend in the return Champions Cup fixture against Wasps at the Rec this afternoon, losing 10-36. 

As the ten-minute mark of the match approached, Bath had opened up the Wasps backline with a clever line of attack, following which a wonderfully-judged flat pass from Kyle Eastmond put Semesa Rokoduguni in for the first try of the match. Ford converted from the right touchline. 7-0.

Wasps responded with a three-pointer from fly-half Jimmy Gopperth shortly after, as Bath were penalised inside their 22. 7-3.

Minutes later, a misread pass from Bath out on the right wing hit the deck, then found its way to Wasps centre Elliot Daly, who sped away to score. Fly-hal Gopperth converted. 7-10.

Bath didn’t help themselves when they were then penalised in line with their posts, making life easy for the prolific boot of Gopperth to extend his side’s lead to six points. 7-13.

In fact, the first half was written by Gopperth from thereon in, with the New Zealander adding a further penalty and then converting his own try after number eight Nathan Hughes had been held up on the Bath line to secure Wasps’ put-in at the scrum.

Half time: Bath Rugby 7-23 Wasps

Bath were under the cosh again for most of the third quarter. It was only some remarkable defending and guts from them that stopped a sure-fire try from the outset, with Bath repelling wave after wave of Wasps attackers on their try line and then winning a penalty.

The home pack did come alive near the hour, excelling at successive scrums to earn the team a penalty in front of the Wasps posts. Ford struck it well, and with it came the first points of the second half for either side. 10-23.

Such promises of a comeback were invariably negated by Gopperth, who in the second half made the first of his punishing kicks in the 64th minute after Bath were pinged at the ruck. 10-26.

Daly then added a drop goal to his afternoon’s tally, taking Wasps’ lead to 10-29 with ten minutes left. To add insult to injury, Semesa Rokoduguni – one of Bath’s best performers on the day – was then yellow-carded in his 22.

At this point, Wasps chose to go for the lineout, with the all-important try bonus point in mind, only to provide one moment of comic relief. The visitors lost their own lineout, the ball falling into the hands of a surprised Henry Thomas, the tighthead then performing an admirable box-kick.

Six minutes from time, Wasps made light work of the Bath defence, running in for a final try through replacement back Alapati Leiua, with that man again, Jimmy Gopperth, converting to end a long day at the office for Bath.

Full time: Bath Rugby 10-36 Wasps

2ND JANUARY 2016  NEWCASTLE V BATH

Newcastle Falcons emerged 19-14 victors over Bath Rugby in a close encounter at Kingston Park.

A wet and windy Kingston Park greeted Bath, with the visitors playing into the wind in the first-half.

After Craig Willis had missed an early chance to get the first points on the board for the home side, Bath’s early score was typical of the weather as a powerful lineout maul drove Guy Mercer over the line. 0-5.

Willis found his range with a penalty on 12 minutes, before Rob Vickers crashed over from short range to take the lead. Willis’s conversion made it a five point gap between the two sides after the opening quarter. 10-5.

A penalty from Rhys Priestland after Newcastle went off their feet at the ruck narrowed the gap to three, but the home side went in at the break five points ahead thanks to another penalty from Willis. The Falcons had thought they were over for another try, and although referee Matthew Carley ruled them to have been held-up, he took play back for the penalty and sent off Henry Thomas in the process.

Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 13 – Bath Rugby 8.

With the wind behind them in the second-half, Bath seemed to emerge from the changing rooms with renewed vigour. Two penalties from Priestland took the visitors ahead, with the Bath pack dominating proceedings for large parts of the second-half.

Newcastle were determined though, and after a series of phases in the Bath 22, they got their reward with a penalty after Bath were judged to have strayed offside. Willis, who’s kicking hadn’t been 100% earlier in the game, found his range and slotted the goal to give the home side back the lead. 16-14.

With 10 minutes left to play, Bath fought hard to try and break down the Newcastle defence, but they were unable to find the crucial gap or force the error. Instead, Carley awarded another penalty to the home side, and Willis stepped up to seal the win with the last kick of the game.

Final score: Newcastle Falcons 19 – Bath Rugby 14

 

2ND January 2016 NEWCASTLE V BATH

Newcastle Falcons emerged 19-14 victors over Bath Rugby in a close encounter at Kingston Park.

A wet and windy Kingston Park greeted Bath, with the visitors playing into the wind in the first-half.

After Craig Willis had missed an early chance to get the first points on the board for the home side, Bath’s early score was typical of the weather as a powerful lineout maul drove Guy Mercer over the line. 0-5.

Willis found his range with a penalty on 12 minutes, before Rob Vickers crashed over from short range to take the lead. Willis’s conversion made it a five point gap between the two sides after the opening quarter. 10-5.

A penalty from Rhys Priestland after Newcastle went off their feet at the ruck narrowed the gap to three, but the home side went in at the break five points ahead thanks to another penalty from Willis. The Falcons had thought they were over for another try, and although referee Matthew Carley ruled them to have been held-up, he took play back for the penalty and sent off Henry Thomas in the process.

Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 13 – Bath Rugby 8.

With the wind behind them in the second-half, Bath seemed to emerge from the changing rooms with renewed vigour. Two penalties from Priestland took the visitors ahead, with the Bath pack dominating proceedings for large parts of the second-half.

Newcastle were determined though, and after a series of phases in the Bath 22, they got their reward with a penalty after Bath were judged to have strayed offside. Willis, who’s kicking hadn’t been 100% earlier in the game, found his range and slotted the goal to give the home side back the lead. 16-14.

With 10 minutes left to play, Bath fought hard to try and break down the Newcastle defence, but they were unable to find the crucial gap or force the error. Instead, Carley awarded another penalty to the home side, and Willis stepped up to seal the win with the last kick of the game.

Final score: Newcastle Falcons 19 – Bath Rugby 14

 

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

10TH JANUARY 2016 TOULON V BATH

 

Bath Rugby produced their best performance of the season at the Stade Mayol this afternoon, only to lose the Champions Cup tie 12-9 following a late Frederic Michalak penalty. 

Fly-half George Ford and Toulon scrum-half Eric Escande traded penalties in the opening quarter of an hour to level an edgy but lively start to this much-anticipated match.

Ford produced some outstanding tactical kicks in the first half, not to mention some dazzling breaks, whilst his teammates showed equal endeavour in putting on an entertaining but purposeful performance.

Approaching the half-hour, Ford and wing Matt Banahan jolted the Bath attack to life with some excellent linking play in the middle of the field. Bolstered by the support of fullback Anthony Watson and centre Kyle Eastmond, it moved the action into Toulon’s 22, but with progress slow, scrum-half Chris Cook passed to Ford in the pocket for a dead-straight drop goal. 3-6.

Escande, who had just missed with a penalty from the right-hand channel, made amends with his second attempt before half time to level things once again.

Half time: Toulon 6-6 Bath Rugby 

Thanks to a firm platform from Bath’s abrasive forwards, it was another Ford drop goal – and another neat delivery from Chris Cook – that gave Bath the lead once again as the second half got underway.

Bath were then penalised at the scrum which, for the third time in the match, allowed Escande level the score with the boot. 9-9.

Time and again in the second half Bath found reserves of energy that allowed them to thwart several potential Toulon tries when a score looked a sure thing.

Toulon made their one real second-half opportunity count when, with five minutes left in the match, replacement Frederic Michalak stroked over the penalty which gave his side the lead for the first time in the match.

It ultimately proved the definitive moment of the game for Toulon as Bath tried valiantly – but vainly – to get themselves into a match-drawing position with only a minute or so left in the match.

Bath leave the Cote d’Azur with their heads held high, in the knowledge that the ability to replicate such performances will take them far this season.

Full time: Toulon 12-9 Bath Rugby

 

 

 

 

 

30th JANUARY 2016 SARACENS V BATH

 Bath Rugby lost 19-13 to Saracens this afternoon at Allianz Park, having been unable to capitalise on an impressive first-half display. 

Rhys Priestland opened Bath’s account within the first three minutes, after the fly-half had put Matt Banahan into space for a surging run into Saracens’ 22. Bath appeared to have rumbled over for a try, but instead had to make do with three points from the Welsh fly-half. 0-3.

Bath were quick to re-emerge as a threat deep in Saracens territory and, thanks to pressure from chasing tighthead Henry Thomas, the home team were forced into making a short kick into touch from their 22. From there, Bath won the lineout and soon went wide, before debutant Dan Bowden gave a delayed pass to fullback Tom Homer for the try.

Priestland made a remarkable conversion from out wide to give Bath a 0-10 lead. Bath then repelled wave after wave of attack from the men in red and black, punctuated by some probing kicks into Saracens territory.

On the stroke of half-time, Saracens infringed at the maul as Bath rolled forwards in the home 22, allowing a grateful Priestland to take an extra three points into the break.

Half-time: Saracens 0-13 Bath Rugby

It took until the 45th minute for Saracens to register any points, when fly-half Charlie Hodgson struck a penalty kick in front of Bath’s posts. 3-13.

Hodgson followed that up with another as Bath’s discipline started to let the visitors down. 6-13.

In the final ten minutes, a deflected Bath kick put Saracens onside. The home team piled behind the ball and Schalk Brits touched down for a try that was converted by Hodgson to level the scores. 13-13.

Thirteen-all quickly became 16-13 as Hodgson kicked a further penalty not long after. Bath were then found guilty of impeding Saracens’ lineout and Hodgson succeeded again with the boot. 19-13.

Bath couldn’t stymie the referee’s whistle thereafter and Saracens closed out what had been a lop-sided contest between the two sides.

Full time: Saracens 19-13 Bath Rugby

5th February 2016 BATH V GLOUCESTER

 The latest chapter of the Aviva Premiership West Country derby saw Bath Rugby lose 11-15 to Gloucester in dreadful conditions at the Rec.

Bath had needed to make all the possession and territory they enjoyed in the opening stages count. After repeated infringements by the Cherry and White forwards at the breakdown, the referee showed lock Tom Savage yellow.

With Savage in the bin, Bath’s man advantage came to the fore, with Welsh lock Dom Day touching down after a potent mauling effort from the pack. Unfortunately, Tom Homer’s conversion attempt bounced back off the left upright. 5-0.

Fullback Homer was on hand soon thereafter to slot a penalty kick, as Bath once again threatened the Gloucester line. 8-0.

Gloucester fly-half James Hook’s long penalty brought the scores to within five points with just over ten minutes left in the first half. 8-3.

Although the score remained unchanged until the half-time whistle blew, it was a period in which Gloucester showed little threat in attack, thanks to a tenacious Bath defence. Matt Banahan, too, in the more unusual 13 jersey, posed the greatest threat for the home side in going forward.

HALF TIME: Bath Rugby 8-3 Gloucester 

The rival teams traded penalties in the opening ten minutes of the second half, first through Hook, and then Homer. 11-6.

Hook extended Gloucester’s lead near the 50-minute mark when, having been brought down after setting off on a trademark mazy run, the Bath tackler was penalised at the breakdown. 11-9.

Indeed, the boot of Hook was the architect of the Cherry and Whites’ victory, kicking as it did a further six points from two penalties to compound an error-strewn second half for the hosts.

Bath made a last-ditch attempt at preventing a home defeat to their old rivals, with a penalty in the final minute taking them into Gloucester’s 22 for a lineout. From there, however, they were penalised at the breakdown. Gloucester kicked the ball to touch and ensured they took the spoils back with them to Kingsholm.

FULL TIME: Bath Rugby 11-15 Gloucester 

30th JANUARY 2016 SARACENS V BATH

Bath Rugby lost 19-13 to Saracens this afternoon at Allianz Park, having been unable to capitalise on an impressive first-half display. 

Rhys Priestland opened Bath’s account within the first three minutes, after the fly-half had put Matt Banahan into space for a surging run into Saracens’ 22. Bath appeared to have rumbled over for a try, but instead had to make do with three points from the Welsh fly-half. 0-3.

Bath were quick to re-emerge as a threat deep in Saracens territory and, thanks to pressure from chasing tighthead Henry Thomas, the home team were forced into making a short kick into touch from their 22. From there, Bath won the lineout and soon went wide, before debutant Dan Bowden gave a delayed pass to fullback Tom Homer for the try.

Priestland made a remarkable conversion from out wide to give Bath a 0-10 lead. Bath then repelled wave after wave of attack from the men in red and black, punctuated by some probing kicks into Saracens territory.

On the stroke of half-time, Saracens infringed at the maul as Bath rolled forwards in the home 22, allowing a grateful Priestland to take an extra three points into the break.

Half-time: Saracens 0-13 Bath Rugby

It took until the 45th minute for Saracens to register any points, when fly-half Charlie Hodgson struck a penalty kick in front of Bath’s posts. 3-13.

Hodgson followed that up with another as Bath’s discipline started to let the visitors down. 6-13.

In the final ten minutes, a deflected Bath kick put Saracens onside. The home team piled behind the ball and Schalk Brits touched down for a try that was converted by Hodgson to level the scores. 13-13.

Thirteen-all quickly became 16-13 as Hodgson kicked a further penalty not long after. Bath were then found guilty of impeding Saracens’ lineout and Hodgson succeeded again with the boot. 19-13.

Bath couldn’t stymie the referee’s whistle thereafter and Saracens closed out what had been a lop-sided contest between the two sides.

Full time: Saracens 19-13 Bath Rugby

Six tries for Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium saw them power to a 14-45 bonus point win over London Irish this afternoon.

An action-packed first-half began with Kyle Eastmond scything his way through the London Irish defence. The move was halted illegally, providing Rhys Priestland with the opportunity to start the scoreboard ticking over with an early three points. Shane Geraghty was given the chance to draw the home side level, but his kick drifted wide. 0-3.

The visiting pack established an early dominance as a scrum followed by a lineout, both five metres out, saw Leroy Houston bundled over from short range to score the first try of the game. Priestland, with a little help from the inside of the upright, added the two extra points, giving Bath a 10 point lead.

A yellow card for Alafoti Faosiliva after a high tackle on Irish centre Tom Fowlie in the 18th minute kick-started an incident filled period of the game, that also provided a huge turning point.  It looked as if Bath would be down to 13-men when referee Thomas Foley charged Matt Garvey with bringing down the Irish maul illegally from five metres out. Garvey was shown a yellow card, and Foley awarded the home side a penalty try. However, Foley’s attention was drawn to an incident in the build-up, and footage from the Television Match Official showed Brendan McKibbin making contact with the head of Henry Thomas from the back of the maul. McKibbin was sent off for the remainder of the game, and the try and Garvey’s yellow card were both rescinded.

Priestland had dispatched the resulting penalty to touch and from the lineout Ollie Devoto blasted through a gap to cross the whitewash. Priestland was again on target with the conversion, and Bath were 17 points to the good after 22 minutes.

Irish’s decision to sacrifice a wing for the specialised skill-set of a scrum-half seemed to pay off on the 27th minutes as replacement Scott Steele found his way over the line. Geraghty added the two. 7-17.

Neither side made much headway in the final minutes of the half, although the game was once more reduced to 14 v 14 after Devoto was shown a yellow card after a late barge on opposing fly-half, Geraghty.

Half-time: London Irish 7 – Bath Rugby 17.

Two quick-fire tries from Bath meant the second half started with a bang.

Chris Cook raced along the left touchline from a quickly taken lineout to set-up Faosiliva to cross from five metres out, before Rokoduguni made similar yards on the right wing. The winger had Eastmond on his shoulder in support, setting up an easy touch down for the centre to secure the bonus point. Fullback Tom Homer converted both tries, kicking well on his old ground. 7-31.

Despite being a man down, the home side attacked valiantly, and after a number of phases centre Fergus Mulchrone was driven over from close range. 14-31.

With the Bath lineout continuing to supply good clean ball  Priestland was the next to score, after he picked a beautiful running line to exploit a gap in defence and glide through to the line. Replacement George Ford added the conversion.

Playing from deep, Rokoduguni was once again on hand to set-up the final try of the game, this time for his fellow Fijian, replacement Niko Matawalu. Rokoduguni charged from his own line and chipped ahead. The Irish defender, Aseli Tikoirotuma, slipped trying to gather the ball, and it sat up neatly for Matawalu to pounce on and score. Ford’s conversion came with the final kick of the game, rounding off a comfortable victory for Bath.

Final score: London Irish 14 – Bath Rugby 45.

 

 

13TH FEBRUARY 2016 WORCESTER V BATH

A tense encounter at Sixways saw Bath Rugby edge their way to a 14-16 victory over Worcester Warriors.

The visitors were first to get some points on the board, fullback Tom Homer stepping up to secure three points after Worcester were penalised at the breakdown following Niko Matawalu’s quickly taken free-kick.

However, after referee JP Doyle reversed a penalty that had originally been awarded in Bath’s favour, the home side took control of the game. Quick lineout ball from the home side saw possession spread wide, eventually falling into the hands of Cooper Vuna, who scored in the corner. Tom Heathcote added the extras, giving Worcester a 7-3 lead after 13 minutes.

13 minutes later and they doubled their lead, Donncha O’Callaghan using his considerable size to power over from short range, again in the corner, and again Heathcote converted.

Homer narrowed the gap three minutes later, sending a penalty straight through the posts after Worcester had strayed offside. 14-6.

Bath were determined to gain a foothold in the game as the first forty minutes drew to an end. Twice the driving maul rumbled towards the Worcester try line, but the home defence stood firm. It forced debutant Adam Hastings to drop back into the pocket and attempt the drop goal, only for his kick to drift narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time score: Worcester Warriors 14 – Bath Rugby 6.

Three minutes after the teams returned to the pitch, Bath were a man down – Max Clark yellow carded for a clumsy challenge on Bryce Heem, but the 14 men didn’t allow Worcester to extend their lead.

With 30 minutes to play, Bath made their way across the try-line, although Doyle felt the need to check with the Television Match Official before awarding the score. Jonathan Evans, on at scrum-half, put up a box-kick that Semesa Rokoduguni and Chris Pennell contested. Rokoduguni came away in possession, and found Evans on his shoulder in support. He offloaded and sent the scrum-half – who had only been on the pitch a matter of moments – over for the all-important try. Homer found his range and secured the touchline conversion to take the visitors to within a point.

The visiting pack were gradually gaining the ascendancy at scrum-time, and another penalty meant Homer took Bath into the lead with ten minutes to go. 14-16.

A frantic finale was in store for the Sixways crowd, as first replacement Ryan Mills and then Heathcote missed a penalty apiece in the closing stages.

A Worcester kick missed touch, but a knock-on from Bath gave the home side a five-metre scrum as the clock went dead. Bath’s pack held strong at the set-piece, and the defence soaked up phase after phase of pressure. Mills twice attempted the drop goal and was twice charged down, before Bath finally pounced on the loose ball and sent it into touch to bring the end of the game, and victory for the visitors.

Final score: Worcester Warriors 14 – Bath Rugby 16.

28TH FEBRUARY 2016 EXETER V BATH

Two tries from Amanaki Mafi weren’t enough to prevent Exeter Chiefs coming out on top of a physical encounter at Sandy Park, as they clinched a 26-17 win over Bath Rugby.

With the wind behind them, the home side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first-half, and with it kept control of the scoreboard. A collapsed scrum led to Gareth Steenson’s first three points of the game. He doubled the lead on 18 minutes, before adding a further penalty ten minutes later.

At 9-0 down, a promising attack sparked for Bath when Semesa Rokoduguni powered down field and play moved into the Exeter 22. But, just when it looked like Bath may find a way through the staunch home defence, Steenson read the play and intercepted. The ball was quickly out to James Short on the wing, who charged downfield. Short found Whitten on his shoulder, and despite a desperate tackle from Adam Hastings, the centre stumbled over the line in the corner to score the first try of the game. Steenson added the extras, taking the score to 16-0 with three minutes of play left in the half.

As the first forty minutes drew to a close, Bath hauled themselves back into the game. A penalty was sent to touch and after Exeter infringed at the lineout, the decision was again made to go for the corner. Hooper took the ball cleanly, and the maul drove hard towards the line. A pile of bodies crashed over and, after consultation with the television match official, the try was awarded to Amanaki Mafi. Tom Homer converted, taking the score to 16-7 as the two sides went in at the break.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 16 – Bath Rugby 7

Bath came out firing at the start of the second-half and earnt a penalty within minutes of the kick-off. Matt Banahan found touch inside the 22, and another rampaging maul saw Mafi touch down in the corner for his third try in as many games. Homer was again on target with the extras, meaning there was now just two points between the two sides. 16-14.

The momentum Bath had gathered at the start of the second-half took a knock on 48 minutes after Max Lahiff was shown a yellow card at the scrum, but the visitors managed to keep Exeter from increasing their lead whilst a man down.

Exeter clawed back some momentum in the sin-bin period though, and on 64 minutes Steenson added a further three points to their tally.

Homer responded in kind eight minutes later after a surging Bath maul was brought down illegally to narrow the gap once more, but the final few minutes of the game belonged to Exeter. They turned pressure into territory, drawing penalties to take them into the Bath 22. A 5m lineout was taken cleanly, and Kai Horstmann drove over for the try. Steenson added the conversion to seal the win for the home side.

Final score: Exeter Chiefs 26 – Bath Rugby 17.

20TH FEBRUARY 2016 BATH V WASPS

 Bath Rugby failed to see off the in-form Wasps at the Recreation Ground this afternoon, a late Amanaki Mafi try earning them a losing bonus point in the 18-24 loss. 

The big boot of Elliot Daly was on display for Wasps with a fifth-minute penalty kick from just outside the Bath 10m line opening the scoring. 0-3.

Two missed penalties from Daly and fly-half Ruaridh Jackson followed in the interim, before a patient build-up of phases for Wasps culminated in wing Frank Halai crashing over for a try shy of the half-hour mark. 0-8.

In the minutes that followed, Bath began to string some purposeful phases together, before Wasps were penalised for infringing at the breakdown. Rhys Priestland punished the indiscretion with a penalty. 3-8.

Numerous re-set scrums on Wasps’ 5m line led to the referee awarding Bath a penalty with time up on the clock for the first half. Priestland again struck three points to ensure Bath finished the first act within touching distance of the visitors.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 6-8 Wasps

Halai got his name on the scoresheet once again within the first 10 minutes of the second half. A Daly kick up the left wing saw the ball stay improbably in touch for the winger to dot down in the corner, although Jackson missed the conversion attempt. 6-16. 

Two minutes after the hour, Wasps went over for a third try through a close-range Simon McIntyre effort. Replacement fly-half Jimmy Gopperth failed to add the extras, but 6-21 on the scoreboard didn’t make good reading for the home crowd.

But no sooner had Wasps pulled convincingly ahead than Bath’s consistently impressive Matt Banahan had gone wide in Wasps’ 22 and put in a well-judged kick through for Tom Homer to touch down over the line.

Homer converted his own try, yet Wasps only needed to wait a couple of minutes before being allowed another shot at goal, which Gopperth took well. 13-24.

The clock showed 80 minutes when Bath struck a consolatory note, as Japan number eight Mafi, on his home debut, crossed the line for the final play of the match.

Full time: Bath Rugby 18-24 Wasps 

28TH FEBRUARY 2016 EXETER V BATH Two tries from Amanaki Mafi weren’t enough to prevent Exeter Chiefs coming out on top of a physical encounter at Sandy Park, as they clinched a 26-17 win over Bath Rugby.

With the wind behind them, the home side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first-half, and with it kept control of the scoreboard. A collapsed scrum led to Gareth Steenson’s first three points of the game. He doubled the lead on 18 minutes, before adding a further penalty ten minutes later.

At 9-0 down, a promising attack sparked for Bath when Semesa Rokoduguni powered down field and play moved into the Exeter 22. But, just when it looked like Bath may find a way through the staunch home defence, Steenson read the play and intercepted. The ball was quickly out to James Short on the wing, who charged downfield. Short found Whitten on his shoulder, and despite a desperate tackle from Adam Hastings, the centre stumbled over the line in the corner to score the first try of the game. Steenson added the extras, taking the score to 16-0 with three minutes of play left in the half.

As the first forty minutes drew to a close, Bath hauled themselves back into the game. A penalty was sent to touch and after Exeter infringed at the lineout, the decision was again made to go for the corner. Hooper took the ball cleanly, and the maul drove hard towards the line. A pile of bodies crashed over and, after consultation with the television match official, the try was awarded to Amanaki Mafi. Tom Homer converted, taking the score to 16-7 as the two sides went in at the break.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 16 – Bath Rugby 7

Bath came out firing at the start of the second-half and earnt a penalty within minutes of the kick-off. Matt Banahan found touch inside the 22, and another rampaging maul saw Mafi touch down in the corner for his third try in as many games. Homer was again on target with the extras, meaning there was now just two points between the two sides. 16-14.

The momentum Bath had gathered at the start of the second-half took a knock on 48 minutes after Max Lahiff was shown a yellow card at the scrum, but the visitors managed to keep Exeter from increasing their lead whilst a man down.

Exeter clawed back some momentum in the sin-bin period though, and on 64 minutes Steenson added a further three points to their tally.

Homer responded in kind eight minutes later after a surging Bath maul was brought down illegally to narrow the gap once more, but the final few minutes of the game belonged to Exeter. They turned pressure into territory, drawing penalties to take them into the Bath 22. A 5m lineout was taken cleanly, and Kai Horstmann drove over for the try. Steenson added the conversion to seal the win for the home side.

Final score: Exeter Chiefs 26 – Bath Rugby 17.

5TH MARCH 2016 BATH V LONDON IRISH

Six tries for Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium saw them power to a 14-45 bonus point win over London Irish this afternoon.

An action-packed first-half began with Kyle Eastmond scything his way through the London Irish defence. The move was halted illegally, providing Rhys Priestland with the opportunity to start the scoreboard ticking over with an early three points. Shane Geraghty was given the chance to draw the home side level, but his kick drifted wide. 0-3.

The visiting pack established an early dominance as a scrum followed by a lineout, both five metres out, saw Leroy Houston bundled over from short range to score the first try of the game. Priestland, with a little help from the inside of the upright, added the two extra points, giving Bath a 10 point lead.

A yellow card for Alafoti Faosiliva after a high tackle on Irish centre Tom Fowlie in the 18th minute kick-started an incident filled period of the game, that also provided a huge turning point.  It looked as if Bath would be down to 13-men when referee Thomas Foley charged Matt Garvey with bringing down the Irish maul illegally from five metres out. Garvey was shown a yellow card, and Foley awarded the home side a penalty try. However, Foley’s attention was drawn to an incident in the build-up, and footage from the Television Match Official showed Brendan McKibbin making contact with the head of Henry Thomas from the back of the maul. McKibbin was sent off for the remainder of the game, and the try and Garvey’s yellow card were both rescinded.

Priestland had dispatched the resulting penalty to touch and from the lineout Ollie Devoto blasted through a gap to cross the whitewash. Priestland was again on target with the conversion, and Bath were 17 points to the good after 22 minutes.

Irish’s decision to sacrifice a wing for the specialised skill-set of a scrum-half seemed to pay off on the 27th minutes as replacement Scott Steele found his way over the line. Geraghty added the two. 7-17.

Neither side made much headway in the final minutes of the half, although the game was once more reduced to 14 v 14 after Devoto was shown a yellow card after a late barge on opposing fly-half, Geraghty.

Half-time: London Irish 7 – Bath Rugby 17.

Two quick-fire tries from Bath meant the second half started with a bang.

Chris Cook raced along the left touchline from a quickly taken lineout to set-up Faosiliva to cross from five metres out, before Rokoduguni made similar yards on the right wing. The winger had Eastmond on his shoulder in support, setting up an easy touch down for the centre to secure the bonus point. Fullback Tom Homer converted both tries, kicking well on his old ground. 7-31.

Despite being a man down, the home side attacked valiantly, and after a number of phases centre Fergus Mulchrone was driven over from close range. 14-31.

With the Bath lineout continuing to supply good clean ball  Priestland was the next to score, after he picked a beautiful running line to exploit a gap in defence and glide through to the line. Replacement George Ford added the conversion.

Playing from deep, Rokoduguni was once again on hand to set-up the final try of the game, this time for his fellow Fijian, replacement Niko Matawalu. Rokoduguni charged from his own line and chipped ahead. The Irish defender, Aseli Tikoirotuma, slipped trying to gather the ball, and it sat up neatly for Matawalu to pounce on and score. Ford’s conversion came with the final kick of the game, rounding off a comfortable victory for Bath.

Final score: London Irish 14 – Bath Rugby 45.

11TH MARCH 2016 HARLEQUINS V BATH

 Bath Rugby left their comeback too late at the Twickenham Stoop tonight, their exhilarating encounter with Harlequins ending 35-28 in the hosts’ favour. 

An unfortunate opening five minutes for Bath entailed a penalty and try to the home team: the first as the visitors failed to roll away at the ruck; the second as Quins intercepted inside Bath’s half and saw centre Harry Sloan go over for the try (the conversion for which was missed).

Far from being overwhelmed by coughing up a fast eight points, Bath conjured a fabulous move from the scrum, with centres Kyle Eastmond and Matt Banahan leading a charge through a gap in the Quins midfield. Banahan, having surged ahead, passed to wing Horacio Agulla.

The Argentine was brought down painfully shy of the try line, but Bath were then in a position from which Homer was able to kick a simple penalty in front of the posts as Quins infringed at the breakdown. 8-3.

Homer’s three-pointer was cancelled out by one of Ben Botica’s own shortly after, only for Homer to strike another of his own a minute later when Quins were penalised at the breakdown. 11-6.

Frustratingly for Bath, scrum-half Chris Cook was shown yellow in the 35th minute, as Quins extended their lead to eight points through the boot of Botica. 14-6.

Time was almost up for the first half when Quins wing Charlie Walker cut an unstoppable line, fending off a would-be Bath defender to cross for the try, which Botica converted to end the half.

Half-time: Harlequins 21-6 Bath Rugby

Quins were able to further establish their command of the match within two minutes of the second half, after a wayward Bath pass was snatched up by Walker, who raced away for his second try of the night. Botica converted: 28-6

A bitter blow came in the 45th minute as Quins scored their bonus point try through captain James Horwill after a strong driving maul set the former Wallaby up in a good position to crash over. Botica added the extras: 35-6.

A small consolation for Bath came as the 70th minute approached; a driving maul allowing Amanaki Mafi to dot down in the left corner. Homer was unable to convert from near the left touchline, but Bath had scored their first try of the night.

One try became two minutes later, as Matt Banahan went charging into the Quins half. It took at least two retreating defenders to bring Banahan down, by which point the space had been made for the lightning-quick replacement wing Jeff Williams to run over for a try. Homer converted and Bath were beginning to look like themselves.

Banahan was at the heart of Bath’s next score with fewer than seven minutes left, as he made an impressive pass that enabled Semesa Rokoduguni to sidestep his way back inside from his wing and sprint in for the try, which Homer converted. 35-25.

Against all odds, Bath were able to finish the match with a losing bonus point as Homer kicked a last-minute penalty to end the match.

Full-time: Harlequins 35-28 Bath Rugby

18th March 2016 Bath v Newcastle

Two excellent tries from Semesa Rokoduguni and an exhaustive defensive effort helped Bath Rugby to a 21-19 victory at the Rec tonight, seeing off the advances of the battling Newcastle Falcons.

Falcons appeared to have the upper hand for most of the first half, their loosehead Rob Vickers barging over for a try in the 13th minute after fly-half Mike Delany had kicked a penalty to the corner. Delany converted Vickers’ score for a seven-point lead.

Approaching the half hour, lock Dom Day stole a Falcons lineout and Bath went wide, taking play into the visitors’ half. From there they were awarded a penalty at the breakdwon. At the resulting home lineout, Bath fly-half Ollie Devoto put in a crossfield kick that Semesa Rokoduguni – showing all the skill of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – controlled the ball with his foot, then gathered it to score.

Bath fullback Tom Homer converted Rokoduguni’s remarkable try to level the scores. 7-7.

Mere minutes later, the influential Francois Louw ran confidently into the wide channel, drew the defender and passed to Rokoduguni. Showing a true nose for the line, Rokoduguni turned on the after-burners, his pace enabling him to evade the two Falcons defenders and score his second try of the night. The conversion from out on the right was missed.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 12-7 Newcastle Falcons

Delany reduced the deficit with a 46th minute penalty as Bath were pinged at the scrum. 12-10.

Shortly after, a superb passage of attack started by a brilliant Matt Banahan pass to the indefatigable Leroy Houston put Bath in a position where they were awarded a kickable penalty. And so it proved for Homer, who made it 15-10.

Falcons struck back promptly as Bath were penalised for not rolling away, and Delany made it 15-13.

As the clock showed 60 minutes, Louw was sent to sin bin and, although his absence didn’t immediately result in three points for Falcons, Delany kicked a penalty a minute or so later that gave the visitors a 15-16 lead.

Tighthead Henry Thomas joined Louw in the since bin in the 65th minute, and Delany extended Falcons’ lead by four points. 15-19.

With just over ten minutes remaining, Bath were back within a single point of Falcons after Homer knocked over a penalty which was doubly buoyant for Bath since Louw returned to the field from his sin binning. 18-19.

It was then time for Falcons to go down to 14 men as replacement hooker Scott Lawson was shown yellow. Homer’s penalty was from out wide on the right, but he nailed it effortlessly to give Bath the lead with seven minutes to go.

Bath’s grit and determination to hold onto the win in the final minutes was typified by the efforts of Chris Cook and Max Clark, who respectively charged down successive drop goal attempts from the ever-dangerous Delany.

Delany made took one last go at three points, but watched as his kick fell short of the crossbar, which was the final act of the match.

Full-time: Bath Rugby 21-19 Newcastle Falcons

 

26TH MARCH 2016 GLOUCESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby snatched a thrilling 12-17 win in the second West Country derby of the season, thanks to two superb tries from winger Semesa Rokoduguni.

It was Bath’s third consecutive victory at Kingsholm, making them the first side to achieve that feat in the professional era. 

After trailing 9-7 at the break, Bath got the better of their rivals in the second half at Kingsholm thanks to a brilliant piece of footwork just three minutes from the end of what was a brutal, physical contest.

Bath welcomed back Grand Slam winners George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson after their successful stint with England, whereas Nathan Catt made his first start of the season in the front row.

The hosts made seven changes to the side which lost to London Irish last weekend, handing starts to Greig Laidlaw and Ross Moriarty after their Six Nations campaigns for Scotland and Wales respectively.

In weather conditions suited for anything but running rugby, it was the hosts who opened the scoring courtesy of Laidlaw’s boot.

Matt Garvey attempted to take a high ball, but when it was knocked forward, the Scotland international’s kick crept over.

Bath’s nerves were clear to see early on. Watson, magnificent for England last week, kicked out on the full two minutes later leading to another Gloucester penalty with nine minutes on the clock.

Laidlaw again made no mistake, increasing the lead to six.

As expected, the contest became a physical midfield battle soon after – but Watson showed his class with a jinking run through the middle before his chip and chase was claimed just five yards from the try line.

However, despite the early pressure from the Cherry and Whites, it was Bath who scored the first try of the evening.

A tremendous Henry Thomas burst, breaking through two tackles, saw the tighthead find support runner Chris Cook, who cantered under the posts.

Ford kicked the extras, handing the lead to the visitors.

Bath’s advantage lasted only two minutes, as yet another easy Gloucester penalty courtesy of Laidlaw left the score 9-7 midway through the first half.

Gloucester controlled the majority of the territory for the remainder of the half, but the Bath backs began to flex their muscles as the rain continued to soak the Kingsholm pitch.

Flashes of Bath brilliance were often followed up by handling errors from both sides – however when Rokoduguni seized on a loose ball with a minute to go until half time, the visitors had another scoring opportunity.

After Gloucester failed to roll away from a ruck on the far side, George Ford – usually metronomic from the boot – could only put his effort wide.

Half-time: Gloucester Rugby 9-7 Bath Rugby

Bath were the first out the blocks after the interval – and made the pressure count.

Having held the ball for a number of phases, the ball was spread wide to Rokoduguni – and from ten metres out, the winger sidestepped his way to the line to dive over for his sixth try in four consecutive games. Ford missed the difficult conversion, putting Bath three points ahead.

Outstanding work from Dom Day, just metres from his own try line, meant a response from the hosts was muted – however a string of infringements kept the penalty count totting up and the pressure firmly on the Bath defence.

Laidlaw slotted a kick in front of the posts after referee Wayne Barnes had seen enough, and the game was all square once more.

With the hosts keeping the ball for long periods of the second half, Bath’s defence continued to cling on – and when a handling error during a ruck gave Bath a scrum, a rare foray into Gloucester’s half looked promising.

After Gloucester were penalised for wheeling the scrum, Ford was presented with another shot at goal – but the swirling wind meant the kick fell just short.

After the teams traded infringements, Rokoduguni rescued the situation for Bath – and after picking the ball out from the back of a ruck, he darted through the defence and powered over the line with just two minutes left on the clock.

Ford again couldn’t add the extras, but with so little time left on the clock, Bath’s tails were up and they held on to record a famous victory.

Full-time: Gloucester Rugby 12-17 Bath Rugby

Report by Dan Brown

2ND APRIL 2016 BATH V SARACENS

Bath Rugby were beaten by the reigning English champions tonight at the Rec, losing an ill-tempered match 10-30 to Saracens.  

The opening four minutes were full of promise for Bath, spearheaded by the remarkable ability of Anthony Watson to break the tackle – as well as a different type of threat by the heavyweight Charlie Ewels with the ball in hand. 

Alas, Saracens made the slightest opportunity count and, in the fourth minute, piled into an overthrown Bath lineout in the home 22 to score out wide through openside Will Fraser, converted by Owen Farrell. 0-7. 

The home crowd made their displeasure known when Bath were penalised at a scrum in their half, which allowed Farrell to knock over a penalty that extended Saracens’ lead. 0-10.

Before half an hour had been played, Farrell struck another penalty in front of Bath’s posts to extend Saracens’ lead to 13 points. 

In their next visit to Bath’s 22, Saracens fullback Alex Goode puts in a lightning-quick pass for replacement back Mike Ellery to score in the corner. Farrell’s conversion attempt hit the woodwork for the second time in the first half, leaving the score at 0-18.

Despite the tit-for-tat nature of the scrum, Bath’s appeared to have the upper hand overall in the first 40 minutes, and so it proved in the final minute of the first act: a penalty scrum that saw George Ford end the lacklustre half with a three-pointer. 

Half-time: Bath Rugby 3 – 18 Saracens 

Before Bath could get an opportunity to claw back some points in the second half, Anthony Watson was shown a red card in the 50th minute for what the referee judged to be a dangerous tackle in the air. 

Bath’s problems were exacerbated just two minutes later as they saw scrum-half Chris Cook sent to the bin for an illegal tackle. The duo’s absence told in the 53rd minute when Chris Ashton scored in the corner – Farrell’s missed conversion offering the smallest crumb of comfort for Bath. 3-23. 

After the hour, a clever chip from Bath into the Saracens 22 forced the visitors to knock the ball into touch inside the in-goal area. From Bath’s 5m lineout, their strong maul allowed replacement number eight Leroy Houston to dive over for the try, converted wonderfully by Ford. 10-23. 

Ten minutes remained when Fraser received the ball on the wing in Bath’s 22, drawing the defender and passing back inside for Ashton to score his second try. Farrell’s conversion was good, taking Saracens’ points tally to 30. 

Full time: Bath Rugby 10-30 Saracens

17t h April 2016 SALE V BATH

Sale Sharks overcame a second-half comeback from Bath Rugby to win the first of their two successive Aviva Premiership encounters by 29 points to 17.

Sale took little time to draw first blood in the match, tighthead Vadim Cobilas crashing over near the posts in the ninth minute for a try that was converted by Danny Cipriani. 7-0.

Five minutes later, Bath captain George Ford atoned for an earlier missed kick at goal with a successful penalty. 7-3. 

 

Midway through the first half, Cipriani showed a trademark moment of ball-handling magic to open up a gap out wide for wing Will Addison to touch down. Ciprani added the extras. 14-3. 

 

A further Cipriani penalty in the 38th minute was bookended two minutes either side by penalties from Ford as Bath twice won scrum penalties against the head. 

 

Half-time: Sale Sharks 17-9 Bath Rugby

 Arguably the best phase of the match for Bath came 11 minutes into the second half, when some breathtaking fingertip handling from Leroy Houston, Rhys Priestland and then George Ford took play from one side of the field to the other, ending with a Semesa Rokoduguni in the right corner. Ford was unable to add the two points from the touchline. 17-14.

 The second half continued in the same vein for Bath’s forwards, as their scrum won another penalty against the head in the 56th minute, allowing Ford to put three points on the board that levelled the scores. 17-17.

Bath were made to see out much of the the final ten minutes with 13 men following an injury to Kyle Eastmond and then a Dom Day yellow card – after Bath’s forwards brought down Sale’s maul metres out from the visitors’ line.

On their second maul attempt after the yellow, Sale succeeded in scoring through replacement back row Dave Seymour, althought the TMO adjudged Cipriani’s conversion to have been unsuccessful. 22-17. 

Sale enjoyed a final flourish with just a minute left on the clock as number eight Mark Easter scored a try down the left thanks to a powerful burst by wing Nev Edwards. Cipriani made light work of a difficult conversion to add the extra two points.

Full-time: Sale Sharks 29-17 Bath Rugby

11TH MARCH 2016 HARLEQUINS V BATH

Bath Rugby left their comeback too late at the Twickenham Stoop tonight, their exhilarating encounter with Harlequins ending 35-28 in the hosts’ favour.

An unfortunate opening five minutes for Bath entailed a penalty and try to the home team: the first as the visitors failed to roll away at the ruck; the second as Quins intercepted inside Bath’s half and saw centre Harry Sloan go over for the try (the conversion for which was missed).

Far from being overwhelmed by coughing up a fast eight points, Bath conjured a fabulous move from the scrum, with centres Kyle Eastmond and Matt Banahan leading a charge through a gap in the Quins midfield. Banahan, having surged ahead, passed to wing Horacio Agulla.

The Argentine was brought down painfully shy of the try line, but Bath were then in a position from which Homer was able to kick a simple penalty in front of the posts as Quins infringed at the breakdown. 8-3.

Homer’s three-pointer was cancelled out by one of Ben Botica’s own shortly after, only for Homer to strike another of his own a minute later when Quins were penalised at the breakdown. 11-6.

Frustratingly for Bath, scrum-half Chris Cook was shown yellow in the 35th minute, as Quins extended their lead to eight points through the boot of Botica. 14-6.

Time was almost up for the first half when Quins wing Charlie Walker cut an unstoppable line, fending off a would-be Bath defender to cross for the try, which Botica converted to end the half.

Half-time: Harlequins 21-6 Bath Rugby

Quins were able to further establish their command of the match within two minutes of the second half, after a wayward Bath pass was snatched up by Walker, who raced away for his second try of the night. Botica converted: 28-6

A bitter blow came in the 45th minute as Quins scored their bonus point try through captain James Horwill after a strong driving maul set the former Wallaby up in a good position to crash over. Botica added the extras: 35-6.

A small consolation for Bath came as the 70th minute approached; a driving maul allowing Amanaki Mafi to dot down in the left corner. Homer was unable to convert from near the left touchline, but Bath had scored their first try of the night.

One try became two minutes later, as Matt Banahan went charging into the Quins half. It took at least two retreating defenders to bring Banahan down, by which point the space had been made for the lightning-quick replacement wing Jeff Williams to run over for a try. Homer converted and Bath were beginning to look like themselves.

Banahan was at the heart of Bath’s next score with fewer than seven minutes left, as he made an impressive pass that enabled Semesa Rokoduguni to sidestep his way back inside from his wing and sprint in for the try, which Homer converted. 35-25.

Against all odds, Bath were able to finish the match with a losing bonus point as Homer kicked a last-minute penalty to end the match.

Full-time: Harlequins 35-28 Bath Rugby

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

 

 

 

 

 

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