2016 2017

by BRIAN JENKINS

2016

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

 

 20th 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

 

30th OCTOBER 2016 EXETER V BATH

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

11th NOVEMBER 2016 SCARLETS V BATH

A spirited second half come back by Scarlets proved too strong for Bath Rugby as they ran out 44-21 winners in the Anglo Welsh Cup on a chilly Friday night in South Wales.

It was the home side who started the game the brightest, going straight on the attack. After an early penalty was conceded, it wasn’t long before Dan Jones had his first opportunity to score some points from the kicking tee. The young fly-half made no mistake and Scarlets led 3-0.

As Bath struggled to impose themselves on the game, Scarlets had yet another chance to add to their points tally early on and Jones knocked over another penalty. 6-0.

After replacing Tom Homer midway through the first half, Adam Hastings immediately made an impact on the game as he looked to galvanise his side who until this point, couldn’t really click into gear after strong attacking pressure from Scarlets.

His mazy run was rewarded with a penalty which former Scarlets fly-half, Rhys Priestland knocked deep into the Scarlets 22. Garvey rose high to claim the line out and Max Lahiff was on hand to power over from close range. Priestland landed the tricky touchline conversion and Bath led 6-7.

Capitalising on the momentum, Bath went straight back on the attack, Williams with a lovely run that split the defence before being caught just short of the line. Lahiff was again on hand though to barge over for the try and leave Priestland with an easy conversion. 6-14

From the restart, Bath conceded the penalty and Jones kicked for goal to keep the home side within touching distance. However, Scarlets were to concede their own penalty from the following restart and rather than going for goal, Priestland once again kicked the ball to touch.

This time the ball was sent wide and Jeff Williams was on the end of a lovely looping pass by Dan Bowden to dive over and Priestland added the extras. 9-21

Half-time score: Scarlets 9 21 Bath Rugby

Bath started the second half brightly, an early penalty opportunity sent the ball to touch again but efforts were in vain and Scarlets cleared the ball.

From that, the visitors rarely threatened the home side in the second half, instead Scarlets enjoyed wave after wave of attack. Eventually the pressure told and flanker Josh Macleod scored. Jones once again accurate from the tee. 16-21

Buoyed on by the home support, Scarlets were growing in confidence and momentum meaning it wasn’t long before they scored again through Tom Phillips. Jones’ conversion nudged Scarlets back into the lead with 15 minutes left to play. 23-21

On his return to Parc Y Scarlets, Rhys Priestland was sin-binned for what the referee judged to be a dangerous tackle on his opposite number Jones, and with Scarlets pressure already building, they made the extra man advantage count.

The driving maul which was a tactic that worked so well for Bath in the first half was now their undoing, as Scarlets gathered a well taken line-out to rumble towards the Bath try line. Jack Condy was the last man to emerge as the scorer and Jones, who enjoyed a faultless night with the boot, converted to put day light between the two teams. 30-21

Another kick to the corner and another rolling maul led to Scarlets, Emyr Phillips scoring his sides fourth try and with Jones adding the conversion, victory was now beyond doubt. 37-21

In the dying moments, Scarlets still attacked and flanker Jack Condy raced away for his second and Scarlets fifth try. Jones converted in what was to be the final action of the half meaning the Rag Doll, traditionally contested between two sides will remain in Wales until the next time.

Full-time score: Scarlets 44 21 Bath Rugby

18TH NOVEMBER 2016 BATH V BRISTOL

Bath Rugby secured local bragging rights with a dogged 16-9 Aviva Premiership victory over arch-rivals Bristol Rugby in front of a record crowd at the Recreation Ground.

It was Bristol who dominated the territory in the opening exchanges, but Bath showed strength in defence to withstand the pressure from their South West counterparts. A tactical kicking battle ensued between the respective backs with conditions at the Rec not favouring a fast-flowing game.

A thumping hit from Max Clark proved to be the turning point after 18 minutes, as the momentum shifted to the home side, who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Tom Homer. A minute later, Bristol hit back with a penalty of their own from fly-half Billy Searle to level the scores. 3-3.

Bath took the game by the scruff of the neck with a well-worked try rounded off by Jack Wilson. The move started with a rolling maul on the half-way line, which was followed by a great break from Tom Ellis. The back rower sent the Bristol defence into disarray as he offloaded to Jack Wilson, with the winger having the simple task of crossing under the posts for the first try of the evening. 10-3.

Homer and Searle exchanged penalties to make it 13-6, before the Bristol fly-half slotted a penalty on the half-time whistle to ensure the teams went into the interval closely poised at 13-9.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 13-9 Bristol Rugby

The second-half re-started in similar fashion to the first, with much of the opening stages spent exchanging possession on the half-way line, until a clever kick from Darren Allinson opened up the game and forced Bristol to concede a penalty, which Homer duly converted. 16-9.

Bath soon came within touching distance of a second try in the corner, but were denied by some resolute defending from Bristol. However, that came at a cost with centre Jason Woodward sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away.

Despite the one man advantage, Bath were unable to make the numerical difference count, as the two teams spent large periods trying to make that telling breakthrough.

It proved to be a nail-biting final few minutes for the home side – Bristol piled on the pressure as they searched for the try that would see them tie the match. As with the entire game it was a huge defensive effort that saw off the onslaught – Max Clark producing a heroic try-saving tackle to secure the derby points for Bath.

Final score: Bath Rugby 16-9 Bristol Rugby

25th NOVEMBER 2017 BATH V HARLEQUINS

Bath Rugby scored four tries on their way to an impressive 38-14 bonus-point victory against Harlequins at the Recreation Ground, a win that takes them back into the Aviva Premiership top four.

It was a blistering start to the game from Bath, with the first try coming after just two minutes. Aled Brew skilfully tapped the high-ball back, finding Elliott Stooke in support. The second rower offloaded to Freddie Burns, who found Zach Mercer outside him. The young flanker went on a mazy run, dancing around the Quins defence, before passing to Paul Grant who ran in for the score. Burns added the extras. 7-0.

With eight minutes on the clock, Quins were reduced to 14 men, as James Chisholm was sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle on Kahn Fotuali’i.

The home side took advantage of their extra man, with Matt Banahan bursting his way through the midfield. The centre was tackled just short of the line, but the ball quickly found its way into the hands of Burns who, in acres of space, had a simple stroll across the line to score his first Aviva Premiership try for Bath. He converted his own score, doubling the lead to 14-0.

Three minutes later and Bath were galloping over the try-line once more, this time with the forwards at the heart of it. Anthony Perenise and Tom Dunn combined well in the midfield, Matt Garvey continued the move and, after the ball was flicked wide by Banahan, Stooke powered his way over in the corner. 19-0.

Harlequins looked like they’d scored themselves through Tim Visser, but the try was chalked off after consultation with the Television Match Official for a knock-on by Dave Ward in the build-up.

20 minutes on the clock and Bath had the bonus point try in the bag. Fotuali’i – who was again instrumental in driving the home side forward – sprung from the bottom of a rock with ball in hand and sprinted up the pitch. He sent a looping pass out to Banahan, who got the ball down despite the attentions of two Quins defenders. Burns added the extras once more to take the score to 26-0.

Once they were restored to 15 men, Quins began to find some shape and spent 10 minutes camped in the Bath 22 before managing to break the defence – replacement Henry Cheeseman sneaking through from short range. James Lang added the conversion. 26-7.

Burns extended the lead with a penalty on 38 minutes and managed to hold out the Quins attack to close out a strong first half.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 29 – Harlequins 7

3RD DECEMBER 2016 BATH V SARACENS

After a frenetic opening 40 minutes, the capacity crowd had to wait 20 minutes for another score – Burns adding a further three points from the boot to put daylight between the two teams. 32-7.

Harlequins hit back three minutes later with their second try of the afternoon. Replacement Josh Lewis showed his acceleration with a stunning break from one 22 to the other, but lost possession in the tackle. The loose ball ended up in the hands of replacement Gabriel Ibitoye, and the winger showed his electric pace to score a memorable breakaway try, despite the best efforts of the closing Max Lahiff. 32-14.

With the game going into the last 10 minutes, Lewis had the chance to score his first points of the afternoon, and the fly-half didn’t disappoint from the tee, as he extended Bath’s lead to 21 points. 35-14.

Bath continued to control the game, and with a minute to play Lewis added another three points to close out an impressive victory at the Rec.

Final score: Bath Rugby 38 – Harlequins 14

Bath Rugby clung on for a 14-11 Aviva Premiership win over Saracens in front of a record crowd at the Recreation Ground this afternoon.

A sold-out Rec was witness to a tense encounter between the two sides, with Bath’s defence eventually closing out the game.

The home side took an early lead after a stunning break from Taulupe Faletau. The Welsh international turned the ball over when Saracens were in possession and surged down the field. The ball found its way to Brew on the wing, and though he was bundled into touch, the resulting breakdown gave Bath put-in at the scrum. The pack heaved forward and a penalty was quickly signalled by referee Greg Garner. Tom Homer lined up the angled kick, and sent it neatly through the posts. 3-0.

Alex Lozowski drew level for Saracens on the 19th minute, but Homer quickly returned the favour for Bath, taking them back in front a minute later.

A huge kick from the left boot of Ben Tapuai on the next penalty gave Bath a five metre lineout. The ball was moved swiftly through the hands, first one way across the pitch and then back again, frantically drawing the Saracens defence. Dan Bowden sent a miss-pass firing out to Tapuai who jinked his way towards the try line. The centre couldn’t quite make it to the line himself, but his offload found Tapuai’s midfield partner Max Clark, who caught the ball sumptuously with one hand before sliding over the line. 11-3.

The Aviva Premiership and European Champions weren’t about to let Bath have it all their own way however, and they cranked up the pressure as the first-half drew to a close.

Bath were forced into some frantic defending of their own, and it looked as if the Saracens forwards had forced their way over the line – only the arm of Tom Ellis prevented the score. The visitors came again though, and having drawn the defence in tight, the spread the ball wide to Sean Maitland who crossed despite the attentions of Aled Brew.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 11 – Saracens 8

The visitors started the second-half in much the same manner as they had started – pressing Bath back and making the home side defend, and Lozowski levelled the scores on the 46th minute with a drop goal. 11-11.

Bath were firing from the re-start, working aggressively up the pitch into the Saracens 22. Max Lahiff went closest to scoring, but the loosehead prop agonisingly dropped the ball over the line. Play was brought back for a Bath penalty after Lozowski committed a high tackle on Bowden. A quick consultation with the TMO ended with the Saracens playmaker being shown a yellow card, and Homer continued his strong afternoon from the tee, adding the three points to Bath’s tally. 14-11.

A missed penalty from Alex Goode could’ve seen the visitors draw level, but Saracens kept up the intensity, time and again forcing Bath in to defending. But the defence was magnificent, holding wave after wave of attack back as the Champions tried all possible routes to score.

With just 24 seconds left on the clock, the visiting side were awarded a penalty. Opting for the draw, Lozowski lined-up the kick from inside his own half. A collective breath was held by all 14,509 people at the Rec as he connected with the ball, before rapturous cheers greeted the ball falling short of the posts. Tapuai gathered the ball and kicked it out to seal the win for the home side.

Final score: Bath Rugby 14 – Saracens 11

10th DECEMBER 2016 CARDIFF V BATH

Round 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup between the two top teams in the Pool was billed to be a hotly contested affair and despite the appalling weather conditions in the Welsh capital, it was Cardiff Blues who prevailed, running out convincing winners 28-3.

Both teams started with intent but it was the home side that were to break the deadlock first after just two minutes, fly-half Steven Shingler knocking over a simple penalty. 3-0.

The home side then went on to enjoy a period of early possession and despite some good defending by Bath, referee George Clancy awarded the Blues another penalty which Shingler kicked with ease. 6-0

Bath looked to have got themselves a foothold in the game when, after a dominant scrum and some good work by Max Lahiff, they were rewarded with a penalty  – Tom Homer dispatching the successful kick from the tee. 6-3.

The rest of the half was a lively affair with both sides intent on trying to play running rugby but Cardiff made their superior possession count, Shingler once again on target with a penalty. 9-3

As the half drew to a close, Bath were agonisingly close to breaking the try deadlock. A sniping run by Semesa Rokoduguni, cut the defence open and a great offload to the supporting Max Clark had the Cardiff defence scrambling but the ball was turned over and Cardiff cleared.

Half-time score: Cardiff Blues 9-6 Bath Rugby

Buoyed on by the home support, Cardiff were quickest out the blocks in the second half and deservedly scored the opening try of the game. Some great work by the backs spread the ball quickly out wide and Matthew Morgan crashed over in the corner. Shingler was again on target with the conversion. 14-3.

With conditions worsening, it didn’t take long for Cardiff to register their second try, this time through Alex Cuthbert. The ball bounced favourably for the Welsh International, leaving the Bath defence stretched. Shingler made no mistake adding the extra two points. 21-3

With time running out on the clock, Bath tried to salvage something from the game but Cardiff, who had played the conditions to their advantage, scored their third and final try through replacement prop, Scott Andrews. After some patient build up play through the forwards, they got their reward and Man of the Match, Shingler converted.

Cardiff now take a five point lead into the reverse fixture at the Rec next Thursday and in his post-match press conference, Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder emphasised the importance of putting things right next week. “We’re obviously very disappointed with the result and it was our worst performance of the season. Credit to Cardiff who played the conditions and did the basics better than us. I know we’re a better team than what we showed tonight and we get the opportunity next Thursday to put things right and with a few key individuals coming back into the fold, we are looking forward to the game.”

Full-time score: Cardiff Blues 28 – 3 Bath Rugby 

15TH DECEMBER 2016 BATH V CARDIFF

Round 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup between the two top teams in the Pool was billed to be a hotly contested affair and despite the appalling weather conditions in the Welsh capital, it was Cardiff Blues who prevailed, running out convincing winners 28-3.

Both teams started with intent but it was the home side that were to break the deadlock first after just two minutes, fly-half Steven Shingler knocking over a simple penalty. 3-0.

The home side then went on to enjoy a period of early possession and despite some good defending by Bath, referee George Clancy awarded the Blues another penalty which Shingler kicked with ease. 6-0

Bath looked to have got themselves a foothold in the game when, after a dominant scrum and some good work by Max Lahiff, they were rewarded with a penalty  – Tom Homer dispatching the successful kick from the tee. 6-3.

The rest of the half was a lively affair with both sides intent on trying to play running rugby but Cardiff made their superior possession count, Shingler once again on target with a penalty. 9-3

As the half drew to a close, Bath were agonisingly close to breaking the try deadlock. A sniping run by Semesa Rokoduguni, cut the defence open and a great offload to the supporting Max Clark had the Cardiff defence scrambling but the ball was turned over and Cardiff cleared.

Half-time score: Cardiff Blues 9-6 Bath Rugby

Buoyed on by the home support, Cardiff were quickest out the blocks in the second half and deservedly scored the opening try of the game. Some great work by the backs spread the ball quickly out wide and Matthew Morgan crashed over in the corner. Shingler was again on target with the conversion. 14-3.

With conditions worsening, it didn’t take long for Cardiff to register their second try, this time through Alex Cuthbert. The ball bounced favourably for the Welsh International, leaving the Bath defence stretched. Shingler made no mistake adding the extra two points. 21-3

With time running out on the clock, Bath tried to salvage something from the game but Cardiff, who had played the conditions to their advantage, scored their third and final try through replacement prop, Scott Andrews. After some patient build up play through the forwards, they got their reward and Man of the Match, Shingler converted.

Cardiff now take a five point lead into the reverse fixture at the Rec next Thursday and in his post-match press conference, Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder emphasised the importance of putting things right next week. “We’re obviously very disappointed with the result and it was our worst performance of the season. Credit to Cardiff who played the conditions and did the basics better than us. I know we’re a better team than what we showed tonight and we get the opportunity next Thursday to put things right and with a few key individuals coming back into the fold, we are looking forward to the game.”

Full-time score: Cardiff Blues 28 – 3 Bath Rugby

24TH DECEMBER 2016 WASPS V BATH

A Christmas Eve cracker at the Ricoh Arena saw Bath Rugby fall to a 40-26 Aviva Premiership loss to Wasps, but the visitors did secure a vital try bonus point.

Semesa Rokoduguni burst down the wing twice in the opening minutes to put Bath on the front foot, but it was the home side who scored first. A cruel bounce of the high ball evaded Aled Brew, instead falling into the arms of Thomas Young. The flanker charged along the touchline and managed to get the ball away to Christian Wade just before he was tackled into touch by George Ford. Wade was left with the simple task of running the ball in, with Jimmy Gopperth adding the conversion. 7-0.

Wade doubled the lead seven minutes later, collecting the ball from the lineout and jinking his way through the defence to the try line. Gopperth was on target again for the extra two. 14-0.

Bath weren’t fazed by the early lead Wasps had taken, instead turning their next opportunity to attack into a score. They turned the ball over as Wasps looked to make more headway in Bath territory, and Brew broke free down the left wing, and Nathan Catt was on hand to offload to Ross Batty. The hooker, continuing where he left off against Cardiff last time out, sprinted 30 metres, evaded the defence and sailed over for the try. Ford added the conversion. 14-7.

Gopperth added a penalty before Dave Attwood scored Bath’s second try. Ben Tapuai broke through the Wasps defence and the ball was quickly recycled. Quick hands combined with patience saw Bath hunt for the gaps, and eventually Attwood powered his way over the line from short range. Ford added the extras. 17-14.

Tom Homer stepped up for a long-range penalty attempt with just minutes left of the first-half, but the kick drifted just wide, and instead it was Wasps who went into the break with their tails up after scoring their third try – Young sprinting clear and Gopperth continuing his fine afternoon from the tee to add the two points.

Half-time score: Wasps 24 – Bath Rugby 14

That momentum carried through the break for Wasps, with Wade first being held-up over the line (following a superb piece of defence by Homer), then latching on to the end of a darting break by Elliot Daly to score his third – and Wasps’ fourth – under the posts.

Gopperth converted the bonus point try and added a two further penalties before Bath fought their way back into the game once more.

A penalty at the scrum was dispatched to the corner by Ford for the lineout five metres out. The driving maul rumbled towards the line and replacement Tom Ellis got the vital touchdown under a mountain of bodies. 37-19.

One final penalty from Gopperth took Wasps to 40, but Bath were determined to take something from the game, and Tapuai was on hand to deliver the bonus point try. He picked a strong supporting line as Ford dummied and darted his way across the field, collected the offload and stormed his way through the gap to sprint over 40 metres to the line. Ford added the conversion to Tapuai’s first try in Bath colours. 40-26.

It was to be the last score of the game for either side, and whilst Bath hammered away in the closing minutes to get within seven points of the home side, it was not to be.

Final score: Wasps 40 – Bath Rugby 26.

31ST DECEMBER 2016 BATH V EXETER

Exeter Chiefs scored a last gasp try to deny Bath Rugby victory in the last Aviva Premiership game of 2016 at the Recreation Ground, with Rob Baxter’s side winning 17-11.

It was a positive start from the home side with Dave Attwood dispossessing the Chiefs in midfield to create the first opening, sending Zach Mercer bursting into the opposition 22 after just two minutes.

Impressive defensive work from the Blue, Black and White kept the Chiefs at bay, with the game scoreless until the reliable boot of George Ford put Bath in front (with a little help from the upright) after 23 minutes. 3-0.

The game really got going midway through the first-half, with Semesa Rokoduguni coming within inches of one of the tries of the season. The architect of much of Bath’s attacking moves in the opening period, the winger latched on to his own chip through the gap, collecting beyond halfway before powering his way into the Chiefs’ 22. Only a back-peddling Jack Nowell prevented the flying Rokoduguni on this occasion, but it was only a matter of time before he was again causing problems in attacking territory.

The resulting scrum saw the visiting side concede a penalty with Ford maintaining his 100% record to make it two out of two from the boot after 27 minutes. 6-0.

Six minutes later and Rokoduguni was creating havoc once again, starting and finishing a move that saw Bath score the first try of the afternoon. The England international broke the tackle of several Exeter players before releasing the ball, turning defence into attack in one swooping move. His fellow winger Brew offloaded to the oncoming Matt Garvey, who was held up just short of the line.

However, the play was not dead, as the ball was quickly recycled to the other side of the field with the industrial Ben Tapuai sending a looping pass to Rokoduguni, who somehow managed to evade the tackles of Phil Dollman and Olly Woodburn to touch down in spectacular fashion in the corner. 11-0.

Bath closed out the half soaking up Exeter possession with some courageous defence to ensure that the away side remained at bay.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 11-0 Exeter Chiefs

The second-half started in similar vein with Bath remaining resolute in defence, with Ford coming closest to extending the advantage with a drop goal attempt that fell short of the posts after 47 minutes.

There was a big ovation from the crowd when Anthony Watson returned to the action for the first time since October, replacing Aled Brew on the wing with half an hour to play. It was nearly the perfect return for Watson, who went storming for the line after some quick hands from centre Jonathan Joseph, but Dollman and Nowell doubled up in defence to bundle the England international into touch just a metre from the line. 11-3.

With eight minutes to play, the game started to turn in the favour of the Chiefs, with the away team capitalising on Bath being down to 14 men – three props had left the field due to injury, and so the game was forced into uncontested scrums and the home side had to sacrifice a man.

It was Luke Cowan-Dickie who found his way through the resilient Bath defence managing to keep hold of the ball to release fellow replacement James Short to dive over in the corner and give the Chiefs hope of clawing back the deficit. Steenson slotted a kick from the touchline to take the game to within a point. 11-10.

With four minutes left on the clock, Short crossed for his second try after some good work in the build-up from Nowell. The England winger evaded three tackles before Tom Homer grounded him with what was in itself a try-saving tackle. However, it was heartbreak for the sell-out crowd as the ball was passed to the waiting Short, who put the Chiefs into the lead for the first time in the game. 11-17.

The Chiefs closed out the remaining minutes before clearing the ball into touch to move above Bath in the Aviva Premiership table.

Final score: Bath Rugby 11-17 Exeter Chiefs

14TH JANUARY 2017 BRISTOL V BATH

Bath Rugby produced an emphatic and scintillating display of running rugby at Ashton Gate, scoring eight tries to beat West Country rivals Bristol Rugby 22-57 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

There was early drama with Anthony Watson nearly giving Bath a dream start after just a minute into game. After some flowing play from the visiting side, the winger bundled his way over in the corner, but he was adjudged to have knocked-on in his attempt to ground the ball.

Billy Searle got the first points on the board with a penalty for the home side, however, it was not long before Bath had their first score courtesy of a try from Tom Dunn after seven minutes. After Bath pinched Bristol’s line-out in the home 22, the hooker brushed off two challenges from the opposition defence to muscle his way over the try line. George Ford added the conversion. 3-7.

Heineken Man of the Match Ford, the architect of much of Bath’s play in the first-half showed his quick-thinking to release Tom Homer and open up a nine-point lead with just 15 minutes gone. A loose ball was quickly grasped by the England fly-half, who sent a huge looping pass to evade the on-rushing Tom Varndell and find Homer in acres of space to cross the line for the second Bath try. Again Ford was on target with the conversion. 3-14.

Starting his first game since his arrival, centre Robbie Fruean was the next to cross the whitewash. Camped inside the Bristol final third, the industrious Ford found a gap in the middle of the home side’s defence before offloading in the tackle to give Fruean the simple task of touching down from close range  for his first try in Bath colours. The fly-half continued his form from the tee, adding the extras. 3-24.

There was no let-up in the scoring from the visitors as they pressed every advantage they were given. The influential Kahn Fotuali’i scored the bonus point try by picking up from the back of the ruck and leaving Bristol powerless to stop the on-coming scrum-half from adding the fourth try just after the half hour mark. Ford again converted. 3-31.

The home side hit back three minutes later with a try of their own as Varndell combined with captain Olly Robinson in a Bristol breakaway. The move from Robinson was initially halted by a back-tracking Nathan Catt, who produced a superb try-saving tackle. However, that proved to be in vain, as Varndell picked up the ball and dotted down.  Seale converted. 10-31.

Just before the sound of the half-time whistle, Ford left the Bristol defence motionless, as he stormed through the gap to score a well-deserved try, which he duly converted maintaining his 100% record with the boot.

Half-time: Bristol Rugby 10-38 Bath Rugby

The second-half started in similar fashion to the first, with Watson once again denied a try by the Television Match Official in the opening stages after another sweeping move from the Bath attacking line.

Eight minutes after the restart, Fotuali’i used his instincts to add his second try of the evening. Following good work from the forwards, the Samoan cleverly picked the ball off the back of the maul to finish from close range. Ford added the extras, which was his last task of the evening, leaving the field with 20 points to his name. 10-45.

Bristol didn’t give up, and they were next to score with centre Tusi Pisi darting through a gap and setting Rhodri Williams free to cross under the posts. 17-45.

Two minutes later, Semesa Rokoduguni bought up 50 points for the Blue, Black and White showing his undoubted strength as he handed off Varndell to dance his way down the touchline and finish in style. 17-50.

It was a fruitful evening for the scrum-halves, and this time it was the turn of Bath replacement Chris Cook, who took advantage of a lapse in the opposition defence to sprint down the wing and continue the onslaught. Homer added the conversion with an excellent kick from the touchline. 17-57.

The last action of the game saw Jack Tovey reduce arrears in the 80th minute with a try in the corner, which was given after consultation with the TMO. However, it was Bath who finished victorious and will now look ahead to another crucial encounter with French side Pau at the Recreation Ground next Saturday, kick-off 15:00, in the final pool game of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Final score: Bristol Rugby 22-57 Bath Rugby

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

27th JANUARY 2017 BATH V GLOUCESTER

Bath Rugby were denied a victory in the closing moments of the Anglo-Welsh clash against Gloucester, with the visitors scoring a 78th minute try to see the scores tied at 17-17 at the full-time whistle.

It was Gloucester who started the game in the ascendancy spending large parts of the first quarter in Bath territory. Centre Ben Tapuai, who was a thorn in the tail of the Cherry and Whites throughout the 80 minutes showed his defensive qualities with a last gasp tackle after eight minutes, but the resistance was broken shortly afterwards. 

A rolling maul saw the Gloucester forwards drive towards the line, with hooker Darren Dawidiuk managing to find his way over the whitewash and James Hook adding the extras from the touchline with 10 minutes played. 0-7

In difficult conditions at the Recreation Ground, both teams sought to gain advantage from the boot with the backs trading kicks from deep. It was the visiting side, who almost doubled their tally for the evening, when Callum Braley found himself in space and looked almost certain to make the crucial score.

However, a back-tracking Aled Brew nullified the scoring threat with a superb tackle, which kept Bath within seven points after half an hour gone on the clock.

Shortly before the half-time interval, Rhys Priestland had the opportunity to open the scoring for Bath with a penalty on the 10 metre line. Following an infringement at the breakdown, the experienced fly-half made no mistake and slotted the penalty straight through the posts. 3-7

Half-time: Bath Rugby 3-7 Gloucester Rugby

The Blue, Black and White made a strong start to the second half and their persistence in attack paid off, when Priestland added another three-point score to take the derby clash into a one-point ball game with 48 minutes on the clock. 6-7

It didn’t take long for the visitors to fight back, when Bath were penalised at the breakdown and Priestland’s opposite number Hook regained Gloucester’s four-point lead with a penalty from close range. 6-10

The tide then began to turn firmly in favour of Bath, with Priestland adding another three points, before scrum-half Chris Cook came agonisingly close to a try in the corner. An enterprising chip and chase from Brew saw the winger reclaim the ball and recycle the ball out wide to Cook, who fell just short of opening Bath’s try-scoring account for the evening. However, all was not lost as play came back for an earlier penalty and Priestland ensured that Bath took the lead for the first time in the game with 20 minutes to play. 12-10

Priestland continued to drive the Bath side forward with his defence-splitting kicking and came within a whisker of adding to the lead, but his drop-goal attempt just fell wide of the posts.

With six minutes left of the game, a moment of brilliance saw the home side break through the Gloucester defence. A clever chip and chase from Max Clark sent Bath into Gloucester territory, which was followed by a piece of magic from Tapuai with ball in hand. After picking up a loose ball, the jinking centre bamboozled the opposition defence with a dummy before offloading to debutant Harry Davies, who in turn found the on-rushing Brew, with the Welshman finishing off a finely crafted move. 17-10

With less than two minutes on the clock, Gloucester piled forwards and their persistence paid off with Ben Vellacott finding a gap in the Bath defence to score their second try of the evening, which was converted by Hook to tie the proceedings at the final whistle.

Final score: Bath Rugby 17-17 Gloucester Rugby  

 

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 

10th FEBRUARY 2017 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

Rhys Priestland scored with the last kick of the game to clinch a dramatic 32-30 victory over Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership at the Recreation Ground.

It took just 10 minutes for Bath to cross the whitewash with Paul Grant continuing his recent scoring run breaking through the Saints’ defence. The number eight finished off some great work from fellow forwards Max Lahiff and Tom Dunn, who had driven the team forward into the opponents 22. 5-0

Two penalties from Saints’ fly-half Stephen Myler gave the visitors the lead after 25 minutes before the man of the moment struck back for Bath.

In his 100th appearance for the Club, Semesa Rokoduguni ensured that it would be a night to remember as he crossed for his 48th try in the Blue, Black and White. The 29-year-old collected a well-timed pass from scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i to break the resistance of the Northampton defence and send his side back in front on the scoreboard. 12-6

Eight minutes before the interval, Tom Homer was close to adding a third try of the evening, but for an excellent intervention from Ken Pisi, who held the fullback up over the tryline. However, the respite for Saints was short lived as from the resulting scrum, referee Wayne Barnes awarded Bath a penalty try. 19-6

In the last play of the half, the reliable Myler added another three points to send his team into the break 10 points adrift.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 19-9 Northampton Saints

Two minutes after the restart, Priestland added another three points from the boot and that is where the score stayed until a frenetic closing 20 minutes at the Rec. 22-9

Despite the early dominance, the game started swinging in favour of the Saints, who started to eat away at Bath’s lead with Ben Foden first to score. The captain broke free in the corner after some resolute defending from the home side, which had previously kept the Saints at bay for a number of phases. 22-16

The pressure was firmly on the Bath defence and were soon reduced to 14 men, with Kane Palma-Newport sent to the sin bin for an infringement at the breakdown with less than 15 minutes to play.

Northampton took advantage of being a man up with replacement Api Ratuniyarawa bundling his way over to score, with Myler once again keeping up his impressive kicking record to put his side in front. 22-23

A little less than 60 seconds later, Chris Cook, who had been on the pitch the same amount of time produced one of the moments of the game. The scrum-half specialist deployed on the wing didn’t look out of place, as he put his ingenuity to good use. The 25-year-old beat his first man on the left wing, before chipping over Saint’s fullback Ahsee Tuala in what would become a foot race between the two to the try line. It was the Bath man who prevailed diving on the ball to the delight of the Bath supporters. 29-23

However, Northampton were far from finished as Jamie Gibson powered his way over after a well-worked line-out and maul just a minute after Priestland had converted Cook’s try. 29-30

Time was running out for Bath, but with three minutes to go, Priestland had his chance with a penalty a few metres from the touchline, midway inside the Northampton half. It wasn’t to be this time for the fly-half, but a charge down from the resulting kick gave the Welsh international a chance to win it at the death. It was a case of second time lucky for Priestland as he sent the Rec into raptures maintaining his composure to clinch a bonus-point victory in the most dramatic of fashion.

Final score: Bath Rugby 32-30 Northampton Saints

 

18th FEBRUARY 2017 BATH V HARLEQUINS

Rhys Priestland scored 17 points as Bath Rugby secured a hard-fought 22-12 victory over Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership at the Recreation Ground.

After his match-winning heroics last week against Northampton Saints, it was Priestland who gave his side an early lead. The Welsh international hoisted a huge up and under, which was chased down excellently by Semesa Rokoduguni. The pressure from the winger was too much for the Harlequins defence, as the visitors conceded a penalty on the edge of the 22. Priestland made no mistake opening the scoring after just three minutes. 3-0

It was a strong showing from the pack in the opening 40 minutes and they were to play their part in the next scoring action of the game. The visitors couldn’t match an impressive shove at the scrum and referee Craig Maxwell-Keys signalled for another penalty, with Priestland opting for the posts. The fly half, who was influential throughout, maintained his 100% start from the tee to extend Bath’s lead with 15 minutes on the clock. 6-0

Harlequins found their way back into the game courtesy of winger Tom Visser. A break from Ruaridh Jackson saw Harlequins break through into the Bath 22. The ball was quickly recycled to the left wing, where Visser managed to evade the best efforts of Bath defence to score the opening try of the game. 6-7

The ever-reliable Priestland ensured that Bath Rugby weren’t behind for long, as the fly half notched his third penalty of the day to send the two teams into the interval closely poised at 9-7.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 9-7 Harlequins

Six minutes into the second half, Harlequins were back over the whitewash, this time through England international Marland Yarde. Hooker Rob Buchanan found himself in space on the right wing, riding the challenge of Harry Davies before offloading to Yarde, who had the simple task of touching down. 9-12

Priestland was once again at the heart of Bath’s next score, as he fooled the Harlequins line to give the Blue, Black and White a platform to build from inside the 22. The forwards ground out a few extra metres, before quick ball from Kahn Fotuali’i gave Max Clark the chance to regain the advantage on the scoreboard after 63 minutes. 16-12

With just four points separating the two sides heading into the last 10 minutes, Priestland gave Bath a bit of breathing space as he maintained his composure to add another penalty to his tally for the afternoon. 19-12

With minutes remaining, Tom Homer showed his skills with the ball in hand as the fullback ran from his own half into Harlequins’ danger zone. The pressure on the opposition defence led to another penalty, with Priestland stepping up to complete Bath’s second-successive victory in the Aviva Premiership.

Final score: Bath Rugby 22-12 Harlequins

 

 

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.

23rd APRIL 2017 STADE FRANCIAS V BATH

After staging a second-half comeback, Bath Rugby were denied victory by a last-gasp Jules Plisson drop goal, as Stade Francais clinched a place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final with a 28-25 win at Stade Jean-Bouin.

It was the home side who went in front on the scoreboard after five minutes through the boot of French international Plisson. Three minutes later, Bath were close to taking the lead, but for some desperate defending from the French side. Jonathan Joseph spun his way through the Stade defence, but was agonisingly held up just short of the try line. However, it wasn’t a lost cause as play went back for an earlier penalty, which George Ford converted from in front of the posts. 3-3

In an eventful opening quarter, Stade were the first over the whitewash through Geoffrey Doumayrou. The centre finished off a flowing move that saw Hugo Bonneval find a gap in the Bath defence before releasing his teammate to add a five-point score. 8-3

Bath nearly had a try of their own after 27 minutes, but, like with the earlier Joseph effort, were stopped in their tracks by some frantic French defence. A powerful surge from Kane Palma-Newport saw the prop offload to Ben Tapuai, but in reaching for the try line the ball was dislodged from the centre’s grasp.

Plisson and Ford traded kicks to make the score 11-6 going into the last seven minutes of the half and the Top 14 side thought they had added a second try through Bonneval, after the fullback crossed the line following a break from their influential scrum-half Will Genia. However, a superb intervention from winger Matt Banahan prevented the Frenchman from grounding the ball.

Half-time score: Stade Francais 11-6 Bath Rugby

The home team were successful in extending their advantage seven minutes into the second-half, with Genia at the heart of the move once again. The Australian delayed his pass to send Plisson under the posts and put Stade firmly in the driving seat. 18-6

With 20 minutes to play, Bath were fighting their way back into the game, and gave themselves a lifeline with another fine score from talisman Semesa Rokoduguni. Bonneval was no match for the win as he brushed off the challenge with ease to bring Bath back into contention. Ford added the extra two points to take Bath to within five. 18-13

A frenetic closing to the match was in store, as the Blue, Black and White continued to trouble the Stade defence. They were duly rewarded when replacement Robbie Fruean bulldozed his way through in the corner to put Bath level with 13 minutes to play. 18-18

It continued to get better with Elliott Stooke making it three tries in eight minutes. After good work from Fruean, the ball was recycled infield to Stooke, who found a gap to score. Ford converted, and the score put Bath in the ascendancy with just a few minutes to play. 18-25

It was another second rower, who gave Stade a route back into the game. With three minutes to play, Djibril Camara broke free down the left wing to release Hugh Pyle and the lock used every ounce of energy to run in the try from 50m out. 25-25

With just 20 seconds left on the clock, Plisson came to Stade’s rescue, as the fly-half sent a drop goal straight through the posts to take the lead once more. The game wasn’t over as Bath claimed the re-start and were awarded a penalty 10m in from the left touchline. With time up on the clock, there was no time for the lineout and Ford signalled for the posts, looking to take the game to extra-time. However, his attempt drifted just across the face of the posts, and Stade put the ball dead to finish the game.

Final score – Stade Francais 28-25 Bath Rugby

 

 

 

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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