2016 2017

Match Reports by BRIAN JENKINS

20th August 2016 Scarlets v Bath

Bath Rugby made it two wins from two in their pre-season campaign with a 17-32 victory over Scarlets at Parc Eirias.
Scarlets were quick to apply pressure from the kick-off, but it was a former-Scarlets man who got the first points on the board – Rhys Priestland scoring a penalty after 10 minutes.
Scarlets scrum-half, Gareth Davies, was a livewire throughout the half, and a break by him from the base of the scrum gave the home side another attacking platform. The resulting passage of defence saw Bath down to 14 men after Henry Thomas was shown a yellow card for a side entry, but whilst Scarlets had the man advantage, it was Bath who came closest to scoring. A loose ball was hacked on by Jonathan Joseph, and it looked as if the England centre had beaten Steff Evans to the touch down, but the referee ruled no try had been scored.
Rhys Patchell levelled the scores for the home side on 33 minutes with a penalty, and swiftly followed it up by crossing the line for the first try of the game. Evans chipped and gathered down the left wing, Davies collected the bobbling ball, and quick hands sent it to Patchell to run the score in. The fly-half converted his own try to give the home side the lead for the first time in the game. 10-3.
But the lead was short lived as minutes later Bath hit back with a try from Jeff Williams, the winger somehow finding gaps in the Scarlets defence to dance through, and dashing his way to the line. George Ford, on for Priestland, added the conversion to get the teams back on equal terms going into the break.
Half-time score: Scarlets 10 – Bath Rugby 10.
Whereas in the first half Scarlets had enjoyed the larger periods of possession and attack, that changed almost from the kick-off in the second half – the set piece in particular becoming a dominant factor for the visitors.
Dave Attwood powered over for Bath’s second try on 46 minutes after a strong driving maul had taken the pack within inches of the line. Scarlets’s defence crumbled under the pressure and the second row crashed over under a pile of bodies. Ford added the extras. 10-17.
Just under ten minutes later, and another powerful surge from the forwards saw them rumble towards the line. The surge drove them on, and Thomas grounded the ball for the try. Ford was again on target for the conversion. 10-24.
Scarlets took advantage of a rare error at the Bath scrum on 66 minutes, David Bulbring bundling over the line after breaking from the set-piece. Patchell converted to take the home side back within seven points. 17-24.
Bath continued to work their way patiently up the pitch and into the opposition’s territory, and a penalty from Ford with eight minutes left to play was followed up with another superb set-piece score. Replacement tighthead Kane Palma-Newport was on hand to get the ball down over the line, sealing the win for the visitors and meaning Bath go into their final pre-season game against Leinster next week with two wins from two.
Final score: Scarlets 17 – Bath Rugby 32.

26 August 2016 Leinster v Bath
Bath Rugby finished their pre-season campaign with a 100% success rate, beating Leinster 19-39 in a breathtaking encounter at Donnybrook Stadium.
Clever hands from Bath following Leinster’s kick-off, including a neat draw-and-pass from outside centre Max Clark, took the men in Blue, Black and White up to the opposition 22 where they earnt themselves a penalty at the breakdown. Fly-half Rhys Priestland knocked the ball over from outside the 22. 0-3.
In the fourth minute, a well-crafted move from Bath allowed lock Dave Attwood to cruise over for the opening try, which Priestland converted from the most difficult of angles. 0-10.
Priestland had little time to take breath between that and his next kick at goal, as Leinster infringed at the breakdown a matter of metres in front of their own posts. 0-13.
Leinster were jolted into life by Bath’s early dominance on the scoreboard, crafting a try of their own off the back of a scrum through wing Adam Byrne – although fly-half Joey Carbery failed with his conversion attempt. 5-13.
Ireland international Garry Ringrose then hurtled into the Bath 22, with the ball moving infield for captain Ross Molony to touch down. Byrne made no mistake this time: 12-13.
A magical moment of the first half came not long before half time, when Anthony Watson showed a phenomenal sleight-of-hand under pressure to find inside centre Dan Bowden, who made the scoring pass out wide to wing Jeff Williams for the try. Priestland converted.

HALF TIME: Leinster 12-20 Bath Rugby
Bath were more than able to soak up wave after wave of Leinster attack in the third quarter – the hosts admittedly unlucky one occasion not to score with a chip into Bath’s 22.
The deadlock was broken just after the hour, however, as a raft of Bath Rugby replacements made a telling impact. The newly-invigorated Bath pack worked the visitors into a commanding position in the Leinster 22, from where replacement inside centre Rory Jennings unleashed the awaiting Rokoduguni on the wing for the England international’s try.
Replacement fly-half George Ford went mighty close from a difficult touchline position with his conversion attempt, but it bounced off the post. 12-25.
Bath had to see out the final ten minutes of the match with 14 men, with try-scorer Rokoduguni sin-binned for illegal handling of the ball. Leinster made their man advantage count straight away, hitting back through replacement fullback Barry Daly. With Byrne’s conversion successful, Leinster looked onto a comeback. 19-25.
Except that Bath’s young replacement wing, Harry Davies, had other ideas. The Welshman latched onto a kick through on halfway, showing the pace to beat the chasing defender for an excellent solo try, which Ford converted. 19-32.
Just when one thought Bath would be happy to defend till the whistle blew for full time, Ford turned a Leinster try-scoring opportunity into one of his own: blocking a kick, taking possession of the ball and sprinting the length of the field to not only touch down, but then convert his own try.
FULL TIME: Leinster 19-39 Bath Rugby

10th Sept 2016 Bath v Newcastle

Eight tries to Newcastle Falcons’ one and a promising start from several of their debutants saw Bath Rugby continue their strong start to the 2016/17 season, beating the visitors 58-5 at the Rec. 

Falcons spent near enough the first ten minutes of the match inside Bath’s half, but a stirring turnover by debutant number eight Zach Mercer inside his own 22 signalled the beginning of Bath’s dominance. 

The backs in Blue, Black and White burst into life as a Falcons player knocked on as a result of a painful-looking sandwich tackle by Matt Banahan and Jonathan Joseph. The spilled ball found its way to Semesa Rokoduguni, who not only burst his way out of the grasps of two would-be tacklers, but out of his 22 and up to halfway to give the visitors an early scare.

Shortly thereafter, a Falcons knock-on in the visitors’ 22 allowed Bath to turn the screw at the scrum and win a penalty. George Ford claimed the first points of the match from out on the right. 3-0.

Ten minutes later, Ford picked up where he had left off at Franklin’s Gardens the previous weekend, slotting a beautiful drop goal to make it 6-0.

Rokoduguni, seeking to add further thrills to his portfolio in the match, went on a scything run from his own 22, almost crossing for a try but for a questionable intervention by another Fijian, fellow wing Vereniki Goneva. Goneva was shown yellow by the referee for illegal handling of the ball and Bath, given a penalty try, breathed slightly easier as Ford added the two points. 13-0.

Incredible interplay between scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i and Matt Banahan down the left wing was the making of Bath’s next score, as the Jerseyman sneaked up the left wing to gather the gentlest of kicks over the top from the Samoan and score under the posts. Ford took the score to 20-0 from in front of the posts. 

Next it was Charlie Ewels, this week playing on the blindside – and with four minutes left in the half – who took possession of the ball down the right wing, drawing the last man and feeding Rokoduguni for Bath’s fourth and bonus-point try. Ford was this time unable to make the conversion. 25-0.

With 40 minutes on the clock, Bath were looking dynamic in the Falcons 22, and that energy was promptly rewarded as Fotuali’i found Rokoduguni on the wing for his second try. There was an eruption of applause for Ford as he topped off the winger’s touchdown with a laser-like accuracy in his touchline conversion.

HALF TIME: Bath Rugby 32-0 Newcastle Falcons

Bath had achieved the try bonus point before half time, but proved in the 46th minute that it wasn’t going to stop there as Kane Palma-Newport wrestled his way over from close range to touch down. Ford converted the tighthead’s effort. 39-0. 

Little time had passed before Dave Attwood, benefiting from some snappy passing from Fotuali’i and a quick Mercer offload, crashed over for the try. Ford missed the difficult conversion. 44-0. 

Entering the final 20 minutes of the match, Attwood made it a brace of tries as the Falcons defence, penalised in their 22, were caught napping and the England lock tore through the defence with ease. Ford was back on song with his conversion. 51-0. 

To prove it wasn’t all one-way traffic, Falcons’ replacement back row, Scottish international Ally Hogg, scored an unconverted try in the right corner with four minutes to go. I

t was just as swiftly cancelled out, however, as one of Bath’s own replacements, lock Elliott Stooke – on debut and on his birthday – scored with less than a minute left on the clock, with Ford’s successful conversion being the final act of a rousing match from Bath Rugby.

FULL TIME: Bath Rugby 58-5 Newcastle Falcons 

 

25th September 2016 Leicester v Bath

Bath Rugby’s unbeaten start to the Aviva Premiership season came to an end today, as Leicester Tigers beat them 34-14 at Welford Road.

A penalty from the boot of Owen Williams was just rewards for the home side after they applied phase after phase of pressure in the opening minutes. They backed it up after a quarter of an hour with a well-worked try from Brendan O’Connor. The flanker was on hand to finish a move started by Peter Betham, who danced down the touchline and found Telusa Veainu in support. The fullback played the link-man role, and O’Connor cantered over the line. 8-0.

A further three points from a scrum penalty extended the home side’s lead, but Bath hit back in fine style shortly after with a blistering try from Semesa Rokoduguni. George Ford looped the ball high in the air, and Rokoduguni leapt highest to claim it, beating JP Pietersen the ball catch. From 40 metres, the winger broke clear of the Tigers defence and slid over the line. Ford added the extra two points from the tee. 11-7.

Leicester, buoyed by their loud home support, kept the pressure on, pressing Bath back into their own half. Another penalty from the boot of Williams on the stroke of half-time extended the lead again.

Half-time: Leicester Tigers 14 – Bath Rugby 7

Bath had looked firmly in the game despite the late score in the first-half, but Leicester came out from the break full of intent. Two penalties within five metres of the try line were sent to touch, and a familiar sight soon followed – the Leicester forwards driving the maul towards the line, and Tom Youngs crashing over for the score under a pile of bodies. Williams added the conversion, followed in quick succession by two further penalties, giving the home side a 20 point advantage going into the final 15 minutes. 27-7.

Replacement Tom Dunn reduced the deficit with a try on the 69th minute – a lovely one-two with Matt Garvey at the lineout paying dividends for the young hooker, who powered through his opposite number for his first try in Bath colours. Ford added the conversion.

Leicester were in imperious form though, and sealed the win with a third try – Ed Slater crossing the whitewash after a series of pick and goes from the forwards. Freddie Burns was on target with a drop-goal conversion to take the home side to fourth in the table.

Final score: Leicester Tigers 34 – Bath Rugby 14.

 

 1st October 2016 Gloucester v Bath

Bath Rugby battled to take the West Country derby day spoils at Kingsholm, beating Gloucester Rugby 6-15.

Greig Laidlaw had the chance to take an early lead for the home side, however the kick was uncharacteristically sent wide by the scrum-half.

The wet conditions underfoot played their part in an error-strewn first-half, as neither side seemed able to build up any meaningful momentum. Bath’s first real foray into the Gloucester 22 came 20 minutes into the half. Patient phase play allowed George Ford to shift back into the pocket, only for his drop goal attempt to come back at him off the post.

It wasn’t until the 30th minute that the first points of the game were registered on the scoreboard – James Hook firing a huge penalty over from the half-way line after Bath were penalised at the scrum. He tried to repeat his efforts moments later, but the slightly longer shot dropped short.

Half-time score: Gloucester Rugby 3 – Bath Rugby 0

As the weather improved, so did the rugby. Bath came out with real purpose at the start of the second-half, pressurising the home side in their own half.

A drop goal from Ford drew the visitors level after 45 minutes, but Laidlaw added a penalty of his own not long after to take his side back in front.

With scoring opportunities few and far between, any chances at goal were taken. Ford saw a long-range penalty attempt fall just wide, but the momentum was with the visitors, and the concerted amount of pressure being put on the hosts soon paid off.

An attacking lineout five metres out provided a solid platform from which Bath attacked. Gloucester defended the maul well, however couldn’t prevent the ball being sent quickly through the hands along the backline. Tom Homer drew the defence, allowing Anthony Watson to find the gap on the outside to dive into the corner and score. 6-8.

Laidlaw’s off-target day with the boot continued, two penalty attempts from distance falling away short of the uprights. Instead, it was Bath who had the deciding play in the game five minutes from time.

A scrum – of which there were many in this game – in the home 22 provided quick ball to the backs. Watson was tackled just short of the line, but the ball was quickly recycled and ended in the hands of Man of the Match Matt Banahan, who had the simple task of dotting down in the corner. Ford added the conversion to increase the points difference to nine.

It was too much for Gloucester to overcome, and with time up on the clock, Banahan sent the ball sailing into touch to seal the derby day victory for the visitors.

Final score: Gloucester Rugby 6 – Bath Rugby 15

 

7TH OCTOBER 2016 Bath v Sale

Bath Rugby beat Sale Sharks 30-3 under the floodlights at the Recreation Ground tonight to make it five Aviva Premiership wins from six.

Bath opened the scoring almost immediately, courtesy of Matt Banahan – who scored his 50th Aviva Premiership try for Bath in the process – the first Bath player to achieve the feat.

After Jonathan Joseph broke through a tackle whilst arcing his run towards the right flank, the ball was offloaded to Banahan, who – although chopped down five metres from the try line – crawled and stretched to get the ball over the whitewash. George Ford added the extras from a tight angle. 7-0.

In front of the record 13,918 crowd at the Rec, both sides looked up for a physical battle, with big hits going in left, right and centre.

After some bruising midfield play, Bath repelled a number of Sharks phases before Will Addison knocked over a penalty from under the posts. 7-3.

Bath soaked up yet more pressure at the back as Sale continued to ask questions of the home forwards – and then launched a blistering counter of their own when they turned over possession.

Bath added to their lead through the boot of Ford with three minutes of the half remaining after Sale were punished for an infringement in the scrum.

The hosts spread the ball with pace and intent throughout the first half, and found themselves going in at the break 10-3 up.

Half Time – Bath Rugby 10 – Sale Sharks 3

Joseph, as is normally the case in Bath colours, looked more than happy to run with the ball in his hands and put Bath on the front foot straight from the start of the second-half with a trademark lung-busting run. 

Ford continued to build points for the home side shortly after the restart, bumping the score up by three with another metronomic penalty after another scrum infringement from the visitors.

Addison was given the ideal chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty of his own, but he could not keep his effort on target and the score remained 13-3.

Then came the flashpoint of the half – Halani Aulika was adjudged to have tackled Attwood without using his arms, giving Ford another shot at goal. No further action was taken by referee Tom Foley, and Bath’s lead was extended to 13.

Bath put clear daylight between the sides minutes later, and it was nothing more than scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i deserved. After the ball came loose ten metres inside the Sale half, Fotuali’i pounced on it and sprinted away, unopposed, beneath the posts to hammer home his side’s advantage. Ford easily kicked the extras, giving his side a 20-point lead.

Kane Palma-Newport was the next to get in on the act, claiming a lineout that Sale had initially won, before jinking to the right and bundling over the line for Bath’s third score of the night. Ford helped himself to yet more points after nailing the difficult conversion.

With Bath then finding themselves defending their try line for the last five minutes of the game, there was just enough time for one last dramatic act. Johnny Leota unceremoniously upended Aled Brew, and was sent to the sinbin for his troubles.

Bath closed the game out to record a comprehensive victory.

Final Score – Bath Rugby 30 – Sale Sharks 3

 

 20 October 2016 Bath v Bristol 

Bath Rugby took the spoils over West Country rivals Bristol Rugby in the two sides first competitive meeting for seven years, winning 22-6 on a chilly night at the Recreation Ground in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Rhys Priestland kicked five penalties before Matt Banahan – the only player still in the Bath squad to have taken part in a Bath v Bristol derby – rounded off the scoring with a try in the 80th minute.

Six minutes in, Bath were the first to register points on the board as Priestland knocked over a penalty from just inside the half after the visitors infringed at the ruck. Billy Searle had the opportunity to level the scores four minutes later, but sent his relatively simple kick left of the uprights.

Energetic work from the Bath forwards created another chance for Priestland to kick for goal – James Phillips guilty of holding on in the ruck. The Welshman nailed his kick to double the lead. 6-0.

Bath did not let up on their West Country opponents – Aled Brew was the next to flex his muscles down the left and worked a good position for the hosts before a knock-on halted their progress.

Both sides then exchanged kicks before Bath experienced a solid spell of possession – recycling the ball well before seeing the move break down on the right hand side.

Bristol then struck back through a penalty of their own, Searle making no mistake with his second attempt of the evening to cut the lead to three.

Priestland landed another impressive kick from right out on the touchline to make it 9-3 after more attritional play in the centre of the pitch, giving the hosts a six-point lead heading into final five minutes of the half.

As Bristol’s penalty count increased, the home side turned the screw and presented Priestland one final attempt at goal before the interval, and he did not disappoint, sending the hosts in with a healthy 12-3 lead.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 12 – Bristol Rugby 3

After a blistering start to the second half, the tempo slowed after a number of infringements from both sides.

Despite this, Bristol managed to work a decent opportunity, and after a Bath knock-on and misdemeanour at the scrum, replacement Shane Geraghty clawed the visitors back to within a score. 12-6.

Moments later, Zach Mercer injected some pace into the game with a barnstorming run down the middle and after Banahan crashed through two tackles, the hosts were just metres from the whitewash. Will Hurrell was caught offside, and Bath opted to bank three more points, Priestland tapping the ball over from under the posts to reinstate the  nine point lead.

Jack Tovey was then sent to the sin bin for taking out the home scrum-half, Will Homer, and Bath immediately looked to make their neighbours pay.

Another excellent carry from Zach Mercer put the hosts in a good position, but they could not make the illusive breakthrough, even with a clever Banahan kick and chase.

With just under ten minutes remaining, Rec favourite Leroy Houston came off the bench to make his farewell appearance – and received a fittingly boisterous welcome from the home supporters.

After reviewing a no-arms tackle on Brew, referee David Wilkinson then sent Geraghty to the bin, meaning Bristol were down to 13 men for an overlap of two minutes.

The pressure finally tolled on the Bristol line with the last play of the game. After Tovey dropped the ball on halfway, Tom Dunn pounced on it, passed to Houston – and with his only touch, he found Banahan who ran the ball in from half-way to a rapturous reception. Priestland kicked the simple extras to seal the derby win.

Final score: Bath Rugby 22 – Bristol Rugby 6

 

Exeter v Bath 30th October 2016

A grandstand finish saw Bath Rugby come away 10-13 winners over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park this afternoon, with Semesa Rokoduguni scoring the winning try eight minutes after the clock had stopped.

Bath started brightly, attacking the line at pace as they looked to find the gap in the Exeter defence. A strong burst through from Luke Charteris just over 10 minutes into the game gave George Ford the first shot at goal after Exeter were penalised, but the fly-half’s shot was just wide.

Exeter responded well, enjoying their first foray into the Bath 22. Whilst the defence was strong and Kahn Fotuali’i turned the Chiefs over, referee Ian Tempest decided it had been illegal, and awarded the penalty in front of the posts. Gareth Steenson knocked the simple kick over and gave the home side the lead. 3-0.

After a strong scrum from the visitors pack, Ford had the chance to equalize but again the kick went wide of the posts.

A long period of sustained pressure just metres from the Exeter try-line nearly saw Bath take the lead, but the well-drilled home defence stood firm and eventually forced the penalty allowing them to clear the pressure.

With just minutes left of the first forty, it looked as if Bath  would end the half on the attack, but a loose pass landed in the hands of Henry Slade, who sent the home side surging up the pitch. Bath’s defence was solid though, drawing the penalty and closing the half out.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 3 – Bath Rugby 0

Bath started the half on the front foot, and with just a minute gone, it looked as if Dave Attwood had scored the opening try of the game. Jonathan Joseph had kicked ahead, the ball falling neatly for Kahn Fotuali’i. The scrum-half had Charteris outside him, who had his fellow lock Attwood in support. Neat interplay between the two saw Attwood charge forward to cross the line, only for the try to be ruled out for a forward pass.

Whilst disappointed to not score the try, the scrum that followed did allow Bath to get their first points on the board. The pack over-powered Exeter, winning the scrum against the head and earning a penalty. Ford stepped up and slotted the three points to level the scores. 3-3.

In a see-sawing game, it was the home side’s turn to pile on the pressure. Phase after phase saw the Chiefs inch closer to scoring, but Ford ripped the ball from his opposition number and the visitors were able to clear temporarily clear the ball from the danger zone.

An engrossing set-piece battle had been unfolding throughout the game, and when Exeter won the latest instalment, with a penalty just inside the Bath half after 60 minutes of play, Henry Slade stepped up for the shot at goal. The centre took his time, and whilst the ball had the required length, the direction was off and the assistant referees’ flags stayed down. 3-3.

Ford was next to attempt a long shot after Exeter infringed at the breakdown, and for the first time in the game the visitors took the lead after the fly-half’s shot was straight and true through the posts. 3-6.

The lead proved the be short-lived though, roared on by the crowd, Exeter’s infamous driving maul set to work moments later and Mitch Lees ground the ball under a pile of bodies. Steenson added the extras, taking the score to 10-6 with eight minutes left to play.

As a frenetic final few minutes followed and Steenson had the chance to take the home side further ahead, only for his attempt at goal to go wide.

Bath weren’t giving up without a fight, and after eight minutes of extra time they finally got their reward. A series of set-piece penalties went Bath’s way – lineout after lineout followed by scrum after scrum, before the ball finally made its way out and into the backline. Ford threw the miss-pass, finding Rokoduguni out wide and the winger powered his way through two Chiefs defenders to barge over the try line and score. Ford added the icing on the cake with the conversion.

Final score: Exeter Chiefs 10 – Bath Rugby 13

 

4th November 2016 Bath v Leicester

Bath Rugby suffered a close 20-21 defeat to Leicester Tigers in their opening game of this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup at the Recreation Ground this evening.

Fly-half Adam Hastings opened the scoring for the home side after five minutes with a well-struck penalty after Zach Mercer had won the penalty at the breakdown. 3-0.

The lead was extended after 12 minutes when debutant Jack Wilson – who arrived from Otago this week – finished off a neat move in the corner after the home forwards had applied the pressure at the lineout and subsequent maul. 8-0.

Leicester hit back almost immediately with a try of their own, Luke Hamilton crashing over from short-range after they had applied a heavy dose of pressure on the defence. Freddie Burns added the conversion, bringing the visitors to within a point after a quarter of hour of play. 8-7.

Burns kept the pressure on, pinning Bath back into their own half, and then striking a penalty neatly through the posts when the referee deemed the home side had infringed.

The lead for the visitors was further extended on the 25th minute, when George Catchpole went over in the corner following a strong carry from Harry Thacker. Burns sent the conversion wide, and also missed a further penalty opportunity that would have extended the lead beyond a converted try.

After soaking-up wave after wave of pressure, the home side started to test their visitors once more as the half drew to a close, but Leicester held firm.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 8 – Leicester Tigers 15

Bath came out brightly once more at the beginning of the second forty, Will Homer darting through and keeping the defence alert, but it was Burns who continued to keep his side’s score ticking over with another penalty won at the scrum.

He added another on the 51st minute, but a yellow card to replacement prop Pat Cilliers, for tackling the 9, shifted the momentum in Bath’s favour and they were quick to take advantage of the extra man.

Zach Mercer stormed down the right hand touchline, finding Jeff Williams on his shoulder in support. The winger collected the offload and sprinted away and over the line. 13-21.

Homer took a quick tap penalty to keep Bath on the front foot, and after the forwards had drawn the defence tight with their picking and going, the ball was quickly spread wide for Dan Bowden to run over the line and touchdown. Hastings landed the conversion, taking Bath to within a point with five minutes left to play.

The young Bath side fought hard in those closing minutes, but Leicester held their nerve and the lead to see them head back up the M5 with a narrow win under their belts.

Final score: Bath Rugby 20 – Leicester Tigers 21

21st January 2017 Bath v Pau

Bath Rugby secured their place in the quarter-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup after a ten-try, 69-10 victory against Pau at the Recreation Ground.

It took just 60 seconds for Bath to register their first try of the afternoon, with Tom Dunn scoring his second try in two games. After a great initial break from George Ford, the play went through the phases before the ball found Dunn, who showed his strength to fend off two of the Pau defenders to score. George Ford added the extras with an excellent kick from the touchline. 7-0

It wasn’t long before the Blue, Black and White were back on the scoreboard again, with the visiting side spending long periods camped in their 22. After Zach Mercer and Jonathan Joseph twice went close to the whitewash, it was Paul Grant who broke through the Pau defence finishing from close range for his first try for the Club. 14-0

A moment of brilliance followed after 22 minutes, when Jonathan Joseph sent a chip into the corner off the outside of his boot, which was expertly gathered and finished off by his England international teammate Anthony Watson. 22-0

After long spells defending their own line, Pau were close to a try themseves before Tom Homer took advantage of a stray pass from the French side. With play switching from right to left in the Bath 22, Tom Homer came into the line to intercept before running the length of the field for a bonus-point try. 29-0

Things went from bad to worse for the away side after 36 minutes, when they were reduced to 14 men with flanker Giovanni Kueffner given a yellow card. However, they managed to put their first points on the board just before the half-time whistle from the boot of fly-half Brandon Fajardo. 29-3

Half-time: Bath Rugby 29-3 Pau

The second half started in similar vein to the first, with the jinking Joseph setting the foundation to a flowing move, which was finished off by Paul Grant for the number eight’s second try of the afternoon at the Rec. 34-3   

Kahn Fotuali’i was next to show his instincts after some good work from the Bath pack. Against the feed, the dominant forward line overturned possession at the scrum before Fotuali’i sent Watson through the gap unopposed to double the winger’s tally. 41-3

After George Ford was given a rousing reception from the home supporters, his replacement, Rhys Priestland instantly made his mark with some quick-thinking, which left the Pau defence motionless. The Welshman used the kick and chase to spectacular effect as he crossed under the posts. 48-3

There was finally a cheer from the visiting fans, when winger Mosese Ratuvou bundled his way over to take the scores to 48-10 after 61 minutes.

The jubilation was short-lived as the influential Homer found space behind the retreating Pau defence, to offload to Zach Mercer, who deservedly got his name on the scoresheet following another strong performance at flanker. 55-10

With four minutes to play, the Bath crowd were treated once again to the dancing feet of replacement centre Ben Tapuai as he bamboozled the Pau defence to bring up nine tries for the Blue, Black and White. 62-10

There was still time for one final try, as Ross Batty continued his fine scoring run in the competition, rumbling over from the back of a driving maul to end an impressive afternoon’s work at the Rec. 69-10.

Final score: Bath Rugby 69-10 Pau

 Newcastle v Bath 4th February 2017

A 72nd minute try from Zach Kibirige saw Newcastle Falcons secure a late 16-15 victory against Bath Rugby in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Kingston Park.

It was a defensive battle in the first half with nothing to separate two sides in the opening 40 minutes. It was the home side who came closest in the opening few minutes, with Jeff Williams preventing Falcons second row Glen Young crossing in the corner with an excellent back-tracking tackle. 

With both teams trading blow for blow in attack and defence, it took until the 30th minute for the deadlock to be broken. After the Falcons conceded a penalty in their 22, fly-half Adam Hastings had the simple task of slotting the ball through the uprights from close range. 0-3

In the last action of the first half, Newcastle hit back with a penalty of their own with Hastings’ opposite number Craig Willis levelling the scores heading into the interval. 3-3

Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 3-3 Bath Rugby

The game was set alight 10 minutes into the second half when Jack Wilson opened Bath’s try-scoring account for the afternoon running in from the Newcastle 10m line. The winger used his pace to break the attention of three defenders to touch down in spectacular fashion. 6-8 

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Willis continued his 100% record from the boot with another penalty, but it wasn’t long before Bath hit back and found their way over the whitewash for the second time in the half. This time it was some well-worked phases, which saw the ball recycled to Max Clark, who managed to find the on-rushing Will Homer and the replacement scrum-half made no mistake diving across the line. Hastings added the extras to give Bath a 9-15 lead.

The closing quarter proved to be eventful for a number of reasons, starting with a yellow card for Falcons hooker Ben Sowrey. Despite being a man down, Newcastle battled back to regain the lead with eight minutes to go.

Kibirige showed his electrifying turn of pace to go beyond the Bath defence and despite a last-gasp Will Homer tackle, the winger just had enough momentum to carry himself over the line. The reliable Willis gave the Falcons a one-point lead with seven minutes left to play. 16-15 

With five minutes to go Clark joined Sowrey in the sin-bin having been adjudged to have tackled a man in the air. Despite the best efforts of the Bath team, the home side held strong and closed out the game. 

Final score: Newcastle Falcons 16-15 Bath Rugby 

 

24th February 2017 Bristol v Bath

A dogged Aviva Premiership derby encounter ended in a narrow one-point 12-11 defeat for Bath Rugby. 

Bath gained early control of the game, and had opportunities to open the scoring – Harry Davies nearly touched down in the corner in the first three minutes but he was dragged into touch just before he could ground the ball.

Steadily, the home side worked their way into the game – a drop goal from Gavin Henson giving them the lead on 11 minutes.

Bath drew level with a penalty from Rhys Priestland on 18 minutes, but Bristol were making it hard for Bath to regain their earlier handle on proceedings.

Henson missed a long-range penalty shot on the 22nd minute, but made amends by adding a further two before half-time to give the home side a six point lead going into the break.

Half-time: Bristol Rugby 9 – Bath Rugby 3

Priestland had the chance to add a second penalty in the opening phases of the second 40, only to see his attempt at goal drift wide. Instead, his opposite number, Henson, extended the Bristol lead further with a simple shot in front of the posts.

David Denton looked like he had finally breached the try line on the 47th minute but, similarly to Davies in the first-half, he was dragged into touch by the covering Jason Woodward before touching the ball down.

A strong tackle from replacement Max Clark led to Bath’s next opportunity for points – the centre took Woodward into touch, and when the fullback prevented the quick lineout from being taken, he was suitably punished by the boot of Priestland from the tee. 12-6.

The hosts were looking comfortable, albeit without getting much out of Bath’s stubborn defence, but replacement Tusi Pisi threw Bath a lifeline on the 67th minute – quite literally. His side were pressing up on the Bath 22 when a wild throw from the centre was picked off by Semesa Rokoduguni and the wing galloped away to score from over 50 metres out. 12-11.

The final 10 minutes were even more frantic than the previous 70, with both sides fighting hard to tip the game in their favour, but ultimately Bristol kept their heads when it counted, and Bath had to settle with a losing bonus point to keep them in the top four.

Final score: Bristol Rugby 12 – Bath Rugby 11.

Bath v Wasps 4th March 2017

Bath Rugby were unable to prevent Wasps from extending their lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership, with the visitors winning 3-24 at the Recreation Ground.

Wasps’ first points on the board came after 13 minutes when Alex Reider combined with Danny Cipriani to send Christian Wade through for their opening try of the afternoon. 0-7

Bath nearly found themselves back in the game with Adam Hastings breaking through the Wasps defence and David Denton grounding the ball in the corner. However, the decision went to the TMO and Denton was adjudged to have been bundled into touch after a last-gasp tackle from Wade.

With 25 minutes on the clock, Wasps doubled their advantage when Tommy Taylor found himself in space in the Bath 22. The hooker made good use of his support, as he sent a crucial pass to Australia international Kurtley Bealey who used his pace finish off a sweeping move. 0-14

In a first half controlled by the league leaders, Bath registered their first points of the day after good pressure in the scrum saw Wasps concede a penalty on the edge of the 22. In the last action before the interval, Tom Homer slotted the three points to send the teams in to the interval at 3-14.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 3-14 Wasps

Like the opening period, Wasps got the scoreboard ticking over again, with Jimmy Gopperth showing his precision from the tee, extending Wasps’ lead from 40m out. 3-17

With kicks being exchanged between the two sides, it was Wasps who took advantage once again. A chip into the Bath 22 from Cipriani forced the knock on from the Bath defence, which was followed by a number of phases metres from the home try line.

With Bath’s defence holding strong, the ball was spread wide to the backs, with Cipriani and Willie Le Roux linking up to send Beale through for his second try of the game to give Wasps the victory.

Final score: Bath Rugby 3-24 Wasps

 

26TH MARCH 2017 SARACENS V BATH

 

Bath Rugby fell to a 53-10 defeat to reigning Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at Allianz Park.

The home side registered their first try of the afternoon after four minutes through England hooker Jamie George, who found himself over the whitewash after a well-worked catch and drive from a line-out. 7-0

Saracens extended their advantage eight minutes later with a length of the field, breakaway try, which was started and finished by Alex Goode. The fullback started the move in his own 22 before crucial interventions from his fellow backs eventually saw Goode cross in the corner. 12-0

However, midway through the first half, Bath found themselves back in the game with a special try of their own. Jonathan Joseph surged down the left wing before sending a clever kick behind the Saracens defence. His international teammate Anthony Watson provided the chase, forcing Richard Wigglesworth to take the ball over his own line giving Bath the advantage at the scrum.

In the resulting play, Bath swept the ball from left to right with Taulupe Faletau producing some magic to release Joseph, who in turn found Watson at pace and the fullback did the rest to edge the visitors closer on the scoreboard. Despite the blustery conditions, which played a telling role in the game, George Ford added the extras. 12-10

In the last action of the half, Saracens added a third try with Sean Maitland gathering his own kick to give his side a five-point advantage going into the half-time break. 17-10

Half-time score: Saracens 17-10 Bath Rugby

A penalty from Owen Farrell in the opening stages of the second half was the only scoring action until the 59th minute, when his side scored two tries in four minutes to open up a 22-point advantage. Replacement hooker Schalk Brits finished off another rolling maul from the line-out, before Brad Barritt added another five points following a fine break from scrum-half Wigglesworth. 32-10

Facing an inspired Saracens side, Bath were unable to break through into opposition territory and found themselves facing another barrage of attacks in their 22 in the last 10 minutes. Ashton was first to break the resolve of the visitors defence socring from close range, before Billy Vunipola took advantage of a quick tap and go and bundled his way over the line. 46-10

With four minutes left on the clock, Henry Taylor intercepted a pass in the Bath 22 before offloading to Ashton, who completed the victory with his second try of the day.

Final score: Saracens 53-10 Bath Rugby

 

 

 1st April 2017 Bath v Brive

Taulupe Faletau and Semesa Rokoduguni score two tries apiece as Bath Rugby secured their place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Semi-Final with a 34-20 victory against Brive at the Recreation Ground.

Rhys Priestland and Gaetan Germain exchanged penalties in the opening 20 minutes before the game exploded into life. It was Priestland that was the architect of Bath’s opening try with 21 minutes on the clock, as the fly-half bamboozled his way through the Brive defence. The Welsh international dummied left before breaking through the hole and offloading to his half-back partner Kahn Fotuali’i. The scrum-half used his quick hands to good effect, sending Faletau over for his first try for the Club. 10-6

Six minutes later, the Blue, Black and White were over the whitewash again with a well-worked team try. Rokoduguni got the move going bursting through the tackles of four Brive defenders. The ball was swiftly recycled from right to left with a clever flick pass from Jonathan Joseph found his international teammate Anthony Watson, who sent birthday boy Tom Homer through in the corner. 15-6

The Bath pressure continued and their third try of the afternoon followed shortly after. A rampaging run down the left wing from the returning Zach Mercer set up the move, before the ball was quickly spread to the influential Joseph, whose clever footwork gave space for Rokoduguni to score his 50th try for the Club. 20-6

Half time – Bath Rugby 20-6 Brive

It only took a few minutes of the second half for Bath to add more points to their tally. After good work from Tom Ellis and Fotuali’i, Matt Banahan sent a clever pass into the path of the on-rushing Faletau, who scored his second of the game. 27-6

Brive were not finished and found themselves back in the game with two quick-fire tries from back rower Fabien Sanconnie. The first came from a pick and go at the back of the scrum, with the French international managing to force his way over from close range. 27-13

Sanconnie’s second came off the back of some solid work at the maul, with the number eight left bringing the French side back into contention with 25 minutes left to play. 27-20

Brive continued to press, but were unable to find their way past an inspired Bath defence, as they looked for a crucial score. With four minutes remaining, Rokoduguni ensured that Brive would head back to France empty-handed with an unbelievable solo try. The winger looked like he had been tackled by the first man, but wrestled free and evaded seven defenders to ensure Bath’s place in the semi-final.

Final score – Bath Rugby 32-20 Brive

 

 

Bath v Leicester 8th April 2017

Bath Rugby secured a dramatic 27-21 Aviva Premiership victory over top four rivals Leicester Tigers, in front of a crowd of 61,868 at The Clash at Twickenham Stadium.

It was Tigers who started brightly with the first try of the afternoon coming after just three minutes. Having taken advantage of an up and under from fly-half Freddie Burns, fullback Telusa Veainu used quick ball at the breakdown to release Brendon O’Connor, who evaded two tackles to cross the whitewash. 0-7

Veainu was at the centre of Leicester’s next scoring move, as he used his quick thinking to extend his sides lead. The Tongan international sent a deft chip over the top of the Bath defence and had the pace to chase and score in the corner with just 12 minutes gone on the clock. 0-12

Leicester were in no mood to surrender their advantage, but Bath fought their way back into the game, with George Ford at the heart of brilliant team try. Great work from Tom Ellis, Ford and Taulupe Faletau gave the home side the platform to build a dangerous attack. The ball was swept from right to left, with Ford sending a crucial looping pass to Jonathan Joseph and his international colleague did the rest. 7-12

Ford and Burns exchanged penalties in the last 15 minutes of the half to send the teams into the interval closely poised at 10-15.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 10-15 Leicester Tigers

Leicester started the second-half brightly with Burns calmly slotting a long range effort from the halfway line, but his opposite number Ford kept his side in contention with another three points of his own. 13-18

The game burst into life with 15 minutes left to go to the delight thousands of Blue, Black and White supporters, who were full of voice at the home of English Rugby. A delayed pass from Joseph freed up room for Faletau, who stormed through the Tigers’ defence and offloaded to the on-rushing Anthony Watson to score. 20-21

Leicester were put further on the back foot when winger JP Pietersen was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on. Bath took full advantage of being a man to the good, as they went in front for the first time in the game courtesy of a piece of magic from Matt Banahan. Deep in the opposition half, Banahan used his trickery to dummy a pass inside and release Watson on the touchline. The fullback ensured it would be a day to remember for the home supporters, crossing the whitewas for the decisive score. 27-21

Bath held out the remaining minutes to ensure that the points would head back to the West Country and crown a fantastic day out with a victory at the home of English Rugby.

Final score – Bath Rugby 27-21 Leicester Tigers

 

15th April 2017 Worcester v Bath

A tight Aviva Premiership encounter saw Bath Rugby come away with a losing bonus point after Worcester Warriors edged a 25-19 win.

Worcester took an early grip on the game, dominating the opening stages and restricting Bath to defending in their own half. The scrum gave visitors the upper-hand though, the forwards exerting control at the set-piece and allowing Bath to clear their lines.

The advantage at scrum-time allowed Bath to build pressure, and on the 20 minute mark George Ford broke the deadlock with a penalty. 0-3.

Ryan Mills drew the home side level on 33 minutes, before Bath finally broke through the defence. Quick ball worked its way to Jonathan Joseph, who sent a miss-pass wide to Matt Banahan. The winger went inside Worcester fullback Chris Penell, cut back towards the left corner and powered his way through the last-man defence to score. Ford added the conversion, giving Bath the lead, 3-10.

Mills reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time with a huge penalty from 58 metres, and the score just before the whistle swung the momentum back towards the home side.

Half-time: Worcester Warriors 6 – Bath Rugby 10.

Ford added a further three points to extend the lead, but Worcester clawed themselves back into the game once again as Josh Adams went over in the corner following a break from Ben Te’o. 11-13.

The home side then went ahead into a lead they never relinquished, with replacement Wynard Olivier bursting through a gap in midfield to touch down over the line. Mills added the extra two. 18-13.

A scrum penalty allowed Ford to pull back to within two points, but Worcester quickly rallied. 18-16.

They put Bath under pressure on the line, and whilst the defence worked hard, a quick tap and go penalty saw Will Spencer crash over from short range. Mills was again on target for the conversion. 25-16.

Ford added a penalty going into the final stages of the game to secure the losing bonus point, but the visitors were unable to steal a win in the dying minutes.

Final score: Worcester Warriors 25 – Bath Rugby 19.

 

30th April 2017 Bath v Gloucester

Taulupe Faletau scored a hat-trick as Bath Rugby recorded a six-try, 44-20 victory over Gloucester Rugby in the Aviva Premiership West Country derby.

Rhys Priestland got the first points on the board for the home side, a penalty coming after the visitors pulled a strong maul down illegally. 3-0.

Priestland’s Welsh compatriot, James Hook, levelled the scores five minutes later after a sustained period of attack from the Cherry and Whites. 3-3.

The re-start lead to the first try of the game, and it came courtesy of Bath’s Welsh back-rower Faletau. Aled Brew leapt high to claim a long kick ahead, Kahn Fotuali’i chipped from the base of the ruck, and the Lions number eight was on hand to gather and slide over the try-line, despite the close attention of the Gloucester defence. Priestland added the extras to give Bath a seven-point lead.

Such was the see-sawing nature of the first-half, Gloucester came back at the home side, another patient passage of attack eventually allowing Henry Trinder to put in a delicate cross-field kick for Jonny May to run on to and score. Billy Burns missed the conversion, meaning Bath had a slender lead going into the break.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 10 – Gloucester Rugby 8.

Two quickfire tries saw Bath take control of the game early in the second-half, with Ben Tapuai involved in both.

First, a long, looping miss-pass from the centre found winger Brew who flew over in the corner under pressure from Willi Heinz. Then, just five minutes later, Max Clark stormed through a gap in the defence and away to touchdown after another neat pass from his midfield colleague.

Priestland added the conversions for both tries and then a further three points from the kicking tee to take the score to 27-8 with 55 minutes played.

Bath were one try away from the bonus point, and replacement Robbie Fruean was quick to oblige. A no-look pass from Fotuali’i found the onrushing New Zealander in space, and he powered away to cross the whitewash. Priestland continued his fine afternoon with the boot with a further two points. 34-8.

With the bonus point secured, Bath continued to control the game. Replacement Kane Palma-Newport burst through the line to start a move that saw George Ford and Luke Charteris both involved, before the ball found its way to Faletau to go over from close range. 39-8.

May crossed the line for his second try of the game to add some consolation to Gloucester, but Bath put the gloss on the win with their sixth try – Faletau cantering down the left wing to score.

David Halaifonua added further consolation with a try going into the final minutes, and the visitors had a sniff of a try bonus point of their own with time up on the clock, but the ball was snaffled by Bath hands and kicked out to start the jubilant celebrations at the final home game of the season.

The win guarantees Bath a top six finish in the Aviva Premiership, meaning a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup is secured, and a top four finish is still possible with one weekend left to play.

Final score: Bath Rugby 44 – Gloucester 20.

 

6th May 2017 Sale v Bath

Sale Sharks held off a second-half comeback from Bath Rugby to secure a narrow 27-24 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The home side started in the ascendancy, but it was Bath, who were first over the whitewash after 23 minutes through Max Clark, despite being down to 14 men after Shaun Knight was sin-binned six minutes earlier. Matt Banahan and Francois Louw played a pivotal role in the score, with clever offloads giving Bath territorial advantage in the Sale 22. With the platform firmly created, Kahn Fotuali’i used quick ball to find the on-rushing Clark and the outside centre did the rest as he scored his second try in as many games. 3-7

Shortly after, AJ MacGinty added his second penalty of the game before Sale took control of the closing stages of the half with two tries in quick succession. Denny Solomona put his side in front with an excellent solo effort, as the winger evaded the Bath defence and powered his way over the line with seven minutes to go to the half-time whistle. 13-7

With the game into first half stoppage time, Sale scored their second try of the afternoon with another well-worked effort. It was Solomona’s fellow rugby league convert Josh Charnley, who got the move going on the left wing, before flanker Ben Curry forced his way over to extend the Sharks’ lead going into the break.

Half-time score – Sale Sharks 20-10 Bath Rugby

The second half started in similar fashion, with Sale showing their attacking flair in the Bath half. A flowing move from right to left gave Sale numerical advantage and Sam James sent the crucial pass to Charnley, who went in at the corner. 27-10

The momentum started turning in Bath’s favour and with 56 minutes on the clock, the Blue, Black and White found a route back intoin the game. Sale were unable to combat a dominant Bath scrum five metres out and referee Greg Garner had no choice but to award the penalty try. 27-17

Seven minutes later, Bath delivered another seven-point score, with Matt Banahan going using all his strength to score his side’s third try of the afternoon and move within three points on the scoreboard. 27-24

A superb breakaway from Bath nearly finished with Banahan making it a double as the Bath stalwart stretched for the line. The call went to the TMO, but agonisingly for the visitors, Banahan was deemed to have lost forward in his attempt to ground the ball.

Despite some flurries into the opposition half, Sale held on until the final whistle, with the remaining two minutes played with 14 men apiece after Louw and Neil Briggs were sent to the sin-bin.

Final score – Sale Sharks 27-24 Bath Rugby

 

 

 

This page was added on 27/08/2019.

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