2017-2018

by BRIAN JENKINS

2017

20TH AUGUST 2017 OSPREYS V BATH

Bath Rugby lifted the inaugural Canterbury Cup and made it two wins from two in pre-season with a dominant 14-28 win over Ospreys in Wales.

A soggy Liberty Stadium was the venue for Bath’s second pre-season friendly, and the visitors put on an assured performance, particularly in the first-half when they kept the home side scoreless.

Rhys Priestland struck on 11 minutes to score the first three points of the game, and whilst the tries weren’t as free-flowing as last weekend’s encounter with Bristol, Bath were in control, keeping the Ospreys pinned back in their own half for large periods and nullifying any burgeoning attacks quickly and efficiently.

The pressure finally told on 22 minutes, when another strong set-piece from Bath saw Paul Grant secure clean lineout ball, and the driving maul power over the line. Nick Auterac was on hand to touch the ball down under the crash of bodies on the ground. 0-8.

Priestland added another three points in between Ben Tapuai and Matt Banahan both going close to scoring, extending the lead to 11 as the two sides headed in for the break.

Half-time: Ospreys 0 – Bath Rugby 11.

Another powerful scrum from the Bath pack saw the second-half continue in much the same way the first had, replacement fly-half Josh Lewis stepping up to coolly slot the penalty. 0-14.

Five minutes later, and a well-worked passage of play ended with Banahan crashing over from short range. Beno Obano provided the pass to Lewis, who in turn offloaded to Elliott Stooke. It looked as if the second row was going to score himself, but desperate defence from the Ospreys saw the big man hauled down short of the line. The ball was kept alive and Chris Cook quickly passed to the on-rushing Banahan. Lewis added the extras, taking the lead to 0-21.

Replacement Nathan Charles was on hand to score the third try, latching on to a loose pass by the home side in their own 22 and sprinting for the line. Lewis made it three out of three from the tee to convert the try. 0-28.

As the rain continued to pour, and both sides rung the changes, play became a little more open. Harry Davies had a good chance to extend the lead, but was ruled to have been held up over the line (although photographic evidence after the final whistle showed the ball grounded). Instead, the final two scores went to the home side.

First, Joe Thomas pounced on to a loose ball after a kick ahead from winger Keelan Giles evaded Levi Davis, then Owen Watkin snuck down the right touchline and over the whitewash as time was up. Hook added both conversions to give the hosts some consolation at the final whistle.

Final score: Ospreys 14 – Bath Rugby 28.

3rd SEPTEMBER 2017 LEICESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby beat Leicester Tigers at Welford Road for the first time since 2003, with a nail-biting 23-27 victory in the first game of the Aviva Premiership season.

It was end to end rugby in the opening exchanges with Bath starting positively, but it took 20 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. It was the home time, who took the lead through the boot of George Ford, who notched his first points in a Leicester shirt after Bath were penalised for not binding at the scrum. 3-0

Four minutes later, Leicester extended their lead with a well-worked try masterminded by Ben Youngs. The England international broke down the narrow side finding Telusa Veainu, who in turn offloaded to Brendon O’Connor on the left wing. The flanker used quick hands to send Manu Tuilagi over the try line. 8-0

Bath were quick to respond with a try of their own, two minutes after Tuilagi’s effort. Matt Banahan caught the Tigers’ defence off-guard on the left wing sprinting from halfway before setting Max Clark free for his first try of the afternoon. 8-7

The tries kept flooding in and Bath went in front for the first time after 31 minutes, with Clark crossing the whitewash for his double. The forwards used the pick and go to good effect and their patience was rewarded when Chris Cook sent a flat pass to Clark, who dived under the posts. Priestland adding the extras. 8-14

As the interval approached, Bath went in for their third try and this time, it was an individual masterclass from Semesa Rokoduguni. The winger, who turned 30 last weekend, intercepted a pass from Ford in his own 22 and ran the length of the field managing to evade the efforts of the back-tracking Jonny May. It looked as if May might catch Rokoduguni in the closing stages, but the Bath flyer used all his experience with a crucial sidestep to bamboozle the England international. Priestland maintained his 100% record with the boot to send his side into half-time with a 13-point advantage.

Half-time score – Leicester Tigers 8-21 Bath Rugby

It was a tense opening to the second period, but Bath continued to add points to the scoreboard, with the ever-reliable Priestland adding another three points with 56 minutes on the clock. 8-24

Ford gave his new side hope with a penalty of his own, but Priestland hit back to maintain Bath’s 16-point lead going into the last 20 minutes of the game. 11-27

The table started turning in the last 10 minutes when Kahn Fotuali’i was sin-binned for a high tackle on Ford. Leicester had two clear opportunities to score with an overlap in the next two minutes, but were unable to take their chances. However, May ensured a tense final eight minutes with the winger crossing to reduce the deficit to 11 points. 16-27

Further drama ensued when Bath were reduced to 13 men with Matt Garvey given a yellow card for a high tackle on Ben Youngs with five minutes left on the clock. With the numerical advantage Leicester piled the pressure on the Bath defence, with Banahan producing an outstanding try-saving tackle on Veainu before Jonathan Joseph bravely stopped his opposite number Tuilagi.

However, Bath’s defensive resolve was broken when May went in for his second try in the corner, with Ford adding the touchline conversion. 23-27

Moments later, and with little more than 60 seconds left, Bath were reduced to 12 men with Banahan this time the man to see yellow. With the clock ticking into overtime, Leicester had one last chance from the line-out, just a few metres from the line. Step-in Luke Charteris, who used all of his 6ft 10 frame to steal the line-out and give his compatriot Priestland the opportunity to put the ball dead.

Final score – Leicester Tigers 23-27 Bath Rugby

Match details

Welford Road
Gallagher Premiership
3 September 2017
KO 15:00

Referee: Luke Pearce
Half Time score: 8-21

Tigers:

Tries: Tuilagi (23), May (72, 77)

Conversions: Ford (78)

Penalties: Ford (20, 58)

Bath:

Tries: Clark (26, 31), Rokoduguni (34)

Conversions: Priestland (27, 31, 36)

Penalties: Priestland (55, 62)

9th September 2017 Bath v Saracens

Two late tries from Semesa Rokoduguni, helped Bath Rugby maintain their 100% start to the Aviva Premiership season, with a 31-21 victory over European Champions Saracens at the Recreation Ground.

It was a strong start from Saracens, who came within touching distance of adding the first points of the game. A clever chip over the Bath defence found the chasing Duncan Taylor, but an excellent covering tackle from Anthony Watson dislodged the ball from the Scotland centre with the try line in his sights.

It was then Watson who showed his attacking intent with nine minutes on the clock. The fullback gathered the ball deep inside his own 22 gliding past the Saracens defence, before Alex Lozowski maded the crucial intervention to stop Watson crossing in the corner.

The attacking momentum paid off when after 18 minutes, Rhys Priestland coolly slotted the opening points of the half. After a number of well-worked phases in the Saracens 22, Kahn Fotuali’i sent the ball back to Rhys Priestland, who sent his drop-goal attempt straight through the uprights. 3-0

Midway through the first 40 minutes, Bath increased their lead with a superb flowing move finished off by Francois Louw. The ball was recycled from right to left to find Jonathan Joseph, who used quick hands to send Matt Banahan into space. The winger used all his experience to draw in the Saracens defence, before offloading to Louw, who fended off attentions Alex Goode and Michael Rhodes to score a memorable try. 8-0

Priestland kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties, to give the Blue, Black and White a 14-0 lead going into the interval.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 14 – Saracens 0

Two minutes into the second-half Lozowski reduced arrears with a penalty of his own, which gave the visitors a new-found confidence. Lozowski’s replacement Owen Farrell added another three points to put Saracens within eight points, but Bath hit back through Priestland, who notched his second drop-goal of the game. 17-6

However, the visitors’ comeback was well and truly on course, when referee Wayne Barnes stepped in to award a penalty try after sustained pressure from Mark McCall’s men. Saracens used the catch and drive to good effect from the line-out, only for it to be hauled down by Taulupe Faletau, who was adjudged to have collapsed the maul. Barnes signalled for the try and Faletau was sent to the sin-bin, with the tie closely poised at 17-16.

With seven minutes left on the clock, Saracens went in front for the first time at the Rec through replacement Ben Spencer. Farrell, who was at the centre of Saracens’ comeback in the second-half was pivotal in a dangerous attacking move. The England fly-half got the ball rolling, before Chris Wyles found Spencer with an inside pass and the scrum-half did the rest. 17-21

With four minutes to play and with Bath down to 14 men after Watson left the field injured, step-in Semesa Rokoduguni. After his 80m effort last week against Leicester Tigers, the Bath flyer was back in the act weaving his way through the Saracens defence. Rokoduguni evaded the clutches of four diving tackles before crossing the whitewash to put Bath back in the ascendancy. 24-21

If the supporters thought they had seen it all, they were in for another tense finale. With Saracens pressing in the Bath 22, Vunipola tried to offload out wide only to find that man again – Semesa Rokoduguni. There was no stopping the prolific winger, who made it a second length of the field effort in as many weeks to send the Rec into raptures in the final play of the game.

Final score: Bath Rugby 31-21 Saracens

15th September 2017 Northampton v Bath

 Northampton Saints ended Bath Rugby’s unbeaten start to the season with a 24-6 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.

It was a dominant performance from Jim Mallinder’s side and their attacking promise was rewarded early on, when Courtney Lawes crossed the whitewash after just three minutes. After a well-worked line-out, the ball was swept left, with Tom Collins offloading in the tackle to find Lawes, who made a stretch for the line to score, despite the best efforts of Kahn Fotuali’i. 5-0

Bath were quick to respond through two penalties from the ever-reliable boot of Rhys Priestland, which took the visitors into a 5-6 lead with half an hour gone on the clock. However, with the half-time whistle little more than a minute away, Saints made their long spells of first half pressure pay off with a second try of the evening. The home side used the catch and drive from the line-out to good effect, with Bath unable to stop the momentum of the rolling maul. It was left to David Ribbans, who found himself at the bottom of the pile to take his side into the interval with a six-point advantage.

Half-time score – Northampton Saints 12-6 Bath Rugby

Northampton kicked on from where they left off after half-time, and it was Ribbans again, who notched his second try under the Friday night lights at Franklin’s Gardens. After Charlie Ewels was penalised for a high tackle, Harry Mallinder sent the ball deep into the Bath 22, giving his side further attacking momentum. The set-piece, which was strong throughout the 80 minutes, worked to the home side’s advantage once again and it was left to South African Ribbans to drive over the line from close range to put Saints firmly in control of the game. 17-6

Despite going through a number of phases in the midfield in the second-half, Bath were unable to find the killer instinct, which saw them beat Saracens last weekend at the Recreation Ground. After losing Matt Garvey and Kahn Fotuali’i in the first half, Bath’s task was made even more difficult when the impressive Sam Underhill was forced to leave the field with the 13 minutes left to play.

Down to 14 men for the rest of the game, Northampton continued to pile on the pressure on the Bath defence. Despite the brave efforts to hold the home side out, they fought their way over the line to claim a bonus point, with a fourth try of the evening. Centre Luther Burrell and Mallinder used their quick hands to put George North through on the overlap to make it a night to remember for Saints.

Final score – Northampton Saints 24-6 Bath Rugby

23rd September 2017 Bath v Newcastle

Newcastle fought back in the closing 20 minutes to claim a dramatic 32-33 victory over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground.

The visitors came flying out of the blocks and found themselves in amongst the tries after just eight minutes. It was Santiago Socino, who was at the centre of the attack, as the hooker rampaged his way through the Bath defence. The Argentinian offloaded in the tackle to find Sonatane Takulua, who finished under the posts. 0-7

Four minutes later, Falcons crossed the whitewash for the second time of the afternoon through Rob Vickers. It was Socino again causing havoc with ball in hand, as he powered his way to just short of the Bath try line. The attack was rewarded with Vickers bundling his way over from close range. 0-14

It got even better for the Falcons, when DTH van der Merwe crossed for a try on his debut after 17 minutes. It was Craig Willis who unlocked the Bath defence with a clever grubber kick, and van der Merwe was there to pounce in the corner.  0-19

Bath were centimetres from getting their first points on the board five minutes later. Quick hands from Matt Banahan set Chris Cook free down the left wing and over the whitewash. However, the decision went to the TMO and the effort was ruled out, with Cook’s foot just scraping the touchline.

It wasn’t long before the home side got back into the game, through Matt Banahan. A superb break from Jack Walker set-up the Bath attack, before Max Clark combined with the fullback, who helped to close the gap on the scoreboard. 7-19

With a minute left to play in the first half, Rhys Priestland slotted a penalty from the Falcons’ 10m line, to send the sides into the break closely-poised at 10-19.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 10-19 Newcastle Falcons

The fightback continued into the second-half, as Bath continued to pile the pressure on the Falcons’ defence. Their efforts were rewarded on 43 minutes, as the ever-reliable Priestland kicked Bath to within six points. 13-19

A second try of the afternoon for Bath followed two minutes later, and it was another piece of magic from the man in form, Semesa Rokoduguni. It was a spectacular effort from the winger, who collected the loose ball on halfway and in doing so, sent the Falcons defence into disarray. The winger circled the visitors’ defence, before gliding down the right wing, to score his fourth try of the season. 18-19

The comeback was complete three minutes later, when Charlie Ewels crashed over. A delayed pass from Priestland opened the gap for Jonathan Joseph, who in turn offloaded to Ewels, and the forward did the rest. 25-19

Joseph then went from provider to try scorer, as Bath made it three tries in 10 minutes. A quick tap penalty found Joseph on halfway and there was nothing stopping the England international. The centre evaded the Falcons tackles with his trademark quick feet and he jinked his way to the try line, for a bonus-point score. 32-19

With 14 minutes to play, Falcons gave themselves a lifeline with a try of their own finished off by Chris Harris. A sweeping move from the visitors saw Falcons back rower Will Welch put Harris in the clear and put his side within six points. 32-26

With the clock ticking and the pressure mounting, a second comeback of the afternoon was in reach. With four minutes to play, Falcons made the territory count, as Mark Wilson drove over from close range, with Joel Hodgson adding the crucial conversion. 32-33

Bath fought valiantly in the closing stages to regain the lead, but Falcons held strong to close out the game.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 32-33 Newcastle Falcons

Match details

Recreation Ground
Gallagher Premiership
23 September 2017
KO 15:00

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Half Time score: 10-19

Bath:

Tries: Banahan (28), Rokoduguni (44), Ewels (47), Joseph (54)

Conversions: Priestland (29, 47, 56)

Penalties: Priestland (39, 42)

Falcons:

Tries: Takulua (8), Vickers (11), Van Der Merwe (17), Harris (66), Wilson (75)

Conversions: Takulua (9, 13), Hodgson (67, 76)

1st October 2017 Wasps v Bath

A late try from Semesa Rokoduguni secured a 9-25 victory for Bath Rugby in an edgy encounter with Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

Rokoduguni’s fifth try in as many games came in the 77th minute and whilst Bath led by nine points at the time, the winger’s crossing of the whitewash guaranteed the result for the visitors.

A gritty, absorbing first 40 minutes yielded nine points apiece, with the tight, nervy encounter on the pitch being reflected on the scoreboard.

Jimmy Gopperth opened the scoring for the home side after a big scrum from his pack presented the first opportunity to go for goal after five minutes. Rhys Priestland drew level for the first time some six minutes later after Nathan Hughes was penalised for a challenge on his opposite number, Taulupe Faletau. 3-3.

Gopperth landed another three points straight after, with Bath infringing at the re-start, before Faletau went on a powerful run from half-way and Wasps were caught offside. Priestland slotted the penalty to draw level once more. 6-6.

A further score each from Priestland and Gopperth cancelled each other out as half-time drew near, Priestland adding another three with an assured drop goal and Gopperth tying the scores with a third penalty.

Half-time: Wasps 9 – Bath Rugby 9

Minutes into the second-half and Bath were in the ascendancy and piling on the pressure in the 22, ultimately forcing Wasps to infringe at the breakdown. Priestland’s penalty from in front of the posts edged the visitors into the lead once more. 9-12.

Freddie Burns replaced the Welshman at pivot minutes later, and with almost his first act of the game stepped up to secure another three points from out wide. 9-15.

Whilst both sides were still trying to find fluidity in attack, it was the stubborn defence of Bath that was coming out on top. A scrum penalty in the last 10 minutes saw Burns advance the lead to nine, before Rokoduguni beat all comers to touchdown following a neat grubber kick through from Jonathan Joseph. Burns added the conversion to seal the win and take Bath up to fifth in the Aviva Premiership table.

Final score: Wasps 9 – Bath Rugby 25.

7th October 2017 Bath v Worcester

Aled Brew notched a double as Bath Rugby secured a bonus-point 29-13 victory over Worcester Warriors at the Recreation Ground.

The home side got off to a flying start with their first try of the afternoon coming after just nine minutes. After Jonathan Joseph’s kick was charged down in his own half, his midfield partner Ben Tapuai pounced on the loose ball and made a break through the Warriors’ defence. The Australian drew his man before offloading back to Joseph, who fended off the attentions of a couple of defenders to score impressively in the corner. Freddie Burns, who was making his first start since his return to the West Country, added the extras from the touchline. 7-0

The visitors hit back five minutes later through the boot of Jamie Shillcock to take his side within four points on the scoreboard. A minute later, Tapuai was back causing havoc in attack, showing his quick feet to blast through the gap into the Warriors’ 22. However, in the resulting play, Warriors hacked a loose ball up field and it turned into a foot race between Anthony Watson and Jonny Arr. With the ball bouncing just short of the Bath try line, Watson raced past Arr to prevent an obvious try-scoring opportunity. 7-3

Warriors continued to test the resolve of the Bath defence and their efforts were finally rewarded mid-way through the first-half. Jackson Willison combined with Shillcock and the fly-half found the surging Dean Hammond, who finished off a well-worked move. 7-8

With the Warriors having enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, Bath reclaimed control of the game in the last 15 minutes of the half. The Blue, Black and White spent six minutes in the Warriors’ 22 and their persistence was rewarded with Brew diving over in the corner for his first try of the afternoon. 12-8

With the clocking heading into the red, Bath ensured they would go into the break with an 11-point advantage, with Tapuai scoring a deserved try. Zach Mercer picked up where he left off in his Man of the Match performance against Wasps last weekend, and left the Warriors’ defence for dust with a powerful run from half-way. The back rower set Tapuai charging through on the 22 and the centre ensured the half finished with a flourish. Burns added the conversion.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 19-8 Worcester Warriors

Worcester hit back six minutes into the second-half through Shillcock. After good initial work from the attacking line-out, the fly-half dived over from close range, to reduce Bath’s lead to six points. 19-13

With both teams fighting for the crucial next score, it was Bath who took advantage, with a second score of the afternoon for Brew. After stealing the Warriors’ line-out, Bath ground out the hard yards, pressing for a third try. A moment of quick-thinking from Burns saw the fly-half send a long looping pass out to Brew and the Welsh winger had the simple task of touching down in the corner. 26-13

With 17 minutes left on the clock, Bath were reduced to 14 men when Burns was sent off for a tip tackle on Josh Adams. Despite being a man down, the home side continued to control the game and assert their authority in attack and defence, stamping out any comeback from the Warriors.

With four minutes to play, Josh Lewis added his first points in a Bath Rugby shirt, with a composed penalty from Warriors’ 10m line. Warriors made one last attempt to score, but Bath’s excellent defence held strong to claim the bonus-point victory.

Final score: Bath Rugby 29-13 Worcester Warriors

14TH OCTOBER 2017 BATH V BENETTON

Josh Lewis scored 13 points as Bath Rugby got their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign off to a winning start with a home 23-0 victory over Benetton Rugby.

On his first start for the Club, Lewis showed no sign of nerves as he calmly slotted two penalties within the opening six minutes to put his side in control on the scoreboard. 6-0

Benetton re-grouped and began to show the form that saw them claim the scalps of Ospreys and Edinburgh in the Pro14. A break from Sebastian Negri mid-way through the first half nearly got the Italian side on the scoreboard. The flanker offloaded to his fellow back rower, Robert Barbieri, and five points looked almost a certainty. However, Aled Brew stepped in to save the day with a superb tackle to prevent the number eight from touching down.

Despite missing out on the try, the attacking momentum remained with Benetton and they continued to press the Bath defence.  The set-piece was causing Bath all sorts of problems, with four penalties going against the Blue, Black and White at the scrum metres from their line. Referee Mike Adamson subsequently sent Nick Auterac to the sin-bin with just under 15 minutes to play before the half-time break.

There was no respite for the Bath defence and they were soon in try-saving mode again. Benetton switched play from right to left and Tommaso Benvenuti proceeded to make his dive for the line. What the Italian international didn’t see coming was Semesa Rokoduguni, who came flying towards the wing and, with a superb tackle, dislodged the ball before it could be grounded.

Against the run of play and with a minute left in the half, Bath gave themselves a bit of breathing space with a fine breakaway try. Jonathan Joseph offloaded to Rokoduguni on halfway and the winger showed a characteristic burst of pace down the right wing before sending the ball in field to Heineken Man of the Match, Chris Cook. The scrum-half showed his quick-thinking, a deft pass setting Zach Mercer through on the 22 and the back rower used every ounce of energy to finish an impressive move. Lewis added the extras to send Bath into the break with a 13-point advantage.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 13-0 Benetton Rugby

Bath restarted with real urgency and it was Lewis who came within inches of scoring a try six minutes into the second-half, pouncing on a loose ball in the midfield and hacking forward into the Benetton 22. The Welsh fly-half collected the ball and made his charge for the line, but was stopped just short by some desperate defence. However, Benetton were subsequently penalised for slowing the ball down and Federico Ruzza was sent to spend 10 minutes on the sidelines. Lewis kicked a routine penalty in front of the posts to put Bath further in front. 16-0

With 20 minutes to play, Bath were reduced to 14 men for the second time in the match, with Tom Dunn given the yellow card for an illegal charge at the ruck. Despite the numerical advantage, Benetton couldn’t find their way through the impressive Bath line, which stood firm in defence.

After scoring twice in last weekend’s victory against Worcester Warriors, Brew found himself amongst the points once again. The returning Francois Louw combined with the Welsh flyer, and he tore through the Benetton defence to finish impressively from 40m. 23-0

Bath closed out the remaining 10 minutes to ensure they head to Scarlets with four points on the board.

Final score: Bath Rugby 23-0 Benetton Rugby

20th OCTOBER 2017 BATH V SCARLETS

Rhys Priestland kicked six penalties as the fly-half inspired Bath Rugby to a 13-18 victory over his former club Scarlets in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Played under torrential conditions at Parc y Scarlets, it was Priestland who broke the deadlock with a penalty after six minutes. Scarlets hit back three minutes later with a penalty of their own, with Leigh Halfpenny slotting the kick through the uprights. However, Bath fought back into the lead straight from the restart, and it was that man again Priestland, who notched another three points from the boot. 3-6

The game sprung into life with the first try of the evening and it was Scarlets who were on the end of a superb counter-attacking move. Fly-half Rhys Patchell sent Steffan Evans through a gap on his own 10m line, before offloading to his halfback partner Gareth Davies who surged deep into the Bath 22. The scrum-half was stopped just short of the line by Anthony Watson, but managed to pop the ball back to the supporting Evans, who finished off a flowing Scarlets attack.  10-6

10 minutes before the interval, Priestland had another shot at goal and the 48-time capped Welsh international showed his composure to put his side within a point. Priestland and his half-back partner Kahn Fotuali’i were influential throughout, but it was the number 10 who ensured his side would go into the break in the lead, making it four out of four from the boot.

Half-time score – Scarlets 10-12 Bath Rugby

Bath started the second-half in strong fashion and Priestland came agonisingly close from adding a try to his tally. The 30-year-old charged down a kick from his opposite number Rhys Patchell and gathered the ball to bundle his way over the line. Unfortunately for Bath, Priestland’s effort was ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on.

Bath continued to pile the pressure on the Scarlets defence with Taulupe Faletau making a mini-break into the home side’s 22. Their patience was rewarded, with referee Romain Poite signaling for a penalty, which Priestland duly converted to maintain his 100% record for the evening. 10-15

Despite a considerable amount of possession, Scarlets were unable to get through a resilient Bath defence, with the Blue, Black and White nullifying any progress up field with tackle after tackle.

With 12 minutes left on the clock, Bath put further distance on the scoreline, as Priestland slotted a routine penalty from the Scarlets 22. Halfpenny ensured a tense last seven minutes with another three points to take the tie within a score. 13-18

As time ticked away, Priestland lined up a long-range kick from halfway, but this time his effort fell short of the posts. However, Bath closed out the final moments to make it two wins out of two, with Toulon the next opponents in the competition in December.

Full-time – Scarlets 13-18 Bath Rugby

29th October 2017 Bath v Gloucester

 Gloucester Rugby scored with the last kick of the game to clinch a 21-22 victory over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground.

The visitors scored the opening try of the afternoon through their captain Willi Heinz after just five minutes. Gloucester’s in-form centre Henry Trinder made the initial break, darting through the Bath defence on half-way before offloading inside to the supporting Heinz. The scrum-half used the dummy to good effect, creating the space for him to dive over in the corner. 5-0

Bath responded with a spectacular length of the field try 10 minutes later. Jonathan Joseph created the initial break, storming into the Gloucester half before finding Anthony Watson. The fullback used all his experience to draw the defender before releasing Rokoduguni for his sixth try of the Aviva Premiership season. 5-5

Bath continued to pile the pressure on to the Gloucester defence, and were rewarded with three points from Rhys Priestland, whose neatly struck penalty gave the home side lead going into the interval.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 8-5 Gloucester Rugby

Owen Williams opened the scoring in the second-half with a penalty, which was quickly cancelled out by Priestland to leave the game closely poised at 11-8.

Despite spending large parts of the first-half on the back foot, Gloucester found their way back into the game with their second try after 53 minutes. John Afoa picked the ball up off the back of the ruck and surged into the Bath 22 before sending a reverse pass to Heinz in the tackle. The scrum-half gathered the offload and ran in for his second try of the game, and Williams converted. 11-15

Bath closed the gap to a single point on 65 minutes – Priestland adding another three points from the tee. 14-15

With time ticking away, Rokoduguni put Bath back in front as he added another try to his tally. The move, which was started by a superb 40m run from Taulupe Faletau, gave Bath the platform to build an attack deep in the Gloucester 22. The ball was spread wide and a looping pass from Watson found Rokoduguni, who beat three defenders. Priestland’s conversion gave Bath a six-point advantage with three minutes to play. 21-15

However, Gloucester were not ready to concede the game and continued to test the Bath defence. The Cherry and Whites spent five minutes trying to edge their way over the whitewash and their persistence finally paid off. With Bath camped on their own line, Ed Slater dived through a number of bodies, and the decision was left with the TMO. After the try was given, it was left to Williams to slot the crucial conversion and give Gloucester the victory.

Final score: Bath Rugby 21-22 Gloucester Rugby

4th November 2017 London Irish v Bath

 Bath Rugby opened their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a hard-fought 22-26 win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

A flawless kicking display from Freddie Burns yielded 16 points from the tee for the fly-half, coupled with tries from Ben Tapuai and Levi Davis, gave the visitors the victory in an open game where both sides were looked to run the ball and try to break down the opposition defence.

Tapuai’s score came after just four minutes of play. A dominant scrum against the head from the Bath pack earnt the penalty, and from the resulting lineout Tapuai broke through the midfield, jinking his way round the defence to go straight in under the posts. Burns added the conversion, 0-7.

Irish were determined to get parity on the scoreboard, turning down a series of penalties in favour of going for the corner. Bath’s defence held them at bay before a miss-pass opened up space and allowed David Paice to find Max Northcote-Green with a offload out the back of his hand. The flanker powered through and touched down. 5-7.

Burns extended Bath’s lead on 19 minutes with a very well-struck penalty from 45 metres out. 5-10.

Bath continued to stretch the Irish defence, however it was the home side that scored next – Northcote-Green reaching out to touch down in the corner for his second try after some strong carries by Irish in the midfield. 10-10.

Burns ensured Bath were back in front at half-time though, sending another penalty sailing through the posts from 35 metres out.

Half-time: London Irish 10 – Bath Rugby 13

Within two minutes of the game re-starting, Irish had their third try. A catch and drive took them within two metres of the line, and a series of pick and goes saw Paice burrow over from short range. Brendan McKibben secured the extra two, giving Irish the lead for the first time. 17-13.

Ten minutes later, and Bath were back in front. Playing under a penalty advantage, Burns spotted the opportunity and kicked across the field, finding Davis on the touchline. The debutant leapt high, gathered and then juggled the ball under pressure from the Irish defence, before eventually getting the ball down over the line to score his first try in Bath colours.  Burns added the tricky conversion from out wide to re-take the lead. 17-20.

The topsy-turvy scoring pattern continued as the game entered its final quarter. Irish got their bonus point try on 57 minutes – Alex Lewington finding himself in space and darting over in the corner – before two further penalties from Burns sealed victory for Bath.  

The final kick – 40 metres out, but dead in front of the posts – came with just over 10 minutes to play, and it was a nervy wait for the vocal Bath supporters who had travelled to Reading as their team closed the game out.

Irish kept fighting, and a series of pick and goes took them ever closer to the try line. The Bath defence held firm though, forcing the hosts to spread the ball wide, but they weren’t able to find their man with the final pass. Instead, Darren Atkins dived on the loose ball, and replacement Max Green – on for his debut appearance in the Blue, Black and White – had the simple job of kicking it to touch to end the game.

Final score: London Irish 22 – Bath Rugby 26

Match details

Madejski Stadium
Anglo-Welsh Cup
4 November 2017
KO 15:00

Attendance: 4364
Referee: Ben O’keeffe
Half Time score: 10-13

Irish:

Tries: Northcote-Green (16, 36), Paice (42), Lewington (57)

Conversions: McKibbin (43)

Bath:

Tries: Tapuai (3), Davis (51)

Conversions: Burns (3, 52)

Penalties: Burns (19, 39, 62, 69)

10th November 2017 Bath v Leicester

Bath Rugby staged a late comeback to seal a hard-fought 33-31 victory over Leicester Tigers in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at the Recreation Ground.

Tom Hardwick put Leicester into an early lead with a penalty after 10 minutes, and the visitors extended their lead with the first try of the evening soon after. Freddie Burns looked to create an opening from his own half, but his kick was charged down and chased by three Leicester attackers. Jonah Holmes managed to gather the loose ball and make his way over the try line at the second time of asking, despite the defensive efforts of Tom Homer, who looked like he’d stopped the winger short of the line. 0-10.

Burns quickly bounced back with two quick-fire penalties to put Bath within four points on the scoreboard with nine minutes remaining in the first half. However, two minutes later, Leicester hit back with another try through Adam Thompstone. Hardwick gave his forwards the perfect platform for an attack, with a kick to touch that landed five metres from the Bath try line. The visitors used the catch and drive to good effect, and Thompstone found himself under a pile of bodies over the line. 6-17.

Two minutes before the interval, Burns produced a moment of brilliance to reduce the deficit against his former side. Inside the Tigers’ 22 and with penalty advantage, the fly-half collected his own kick over the top of the defence to touch down and score. His conversion took Bath to within four points.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 13-17 Leicester Tigers

Bath pulled back another three points a couple of minutes into the second-half, with the ever-impressive Burns continuing his 100% record from the tee. 16-17.

But the topsy-turvy nature of the game continued, as 60 seconds later Leicester once more extended their lead with a well-worked try. A burst from centre Jordan Olowofela into the Bath 22 was halted, but the centre managed to find the on-rushing Jonah Holmes in support, who ran in to score. 16-24.

Bath weren’t giving up without a fight and Matt Banahan came agonisingly close to a score himself. The home side worked patiently through a number of phases before the centre powered over the line. However as he reached for the whitewash, the ball was dislodged from his grasp. Bath maintained the pressure though, and the near-capacity crowd were treated to another three points from Man of the Match Burns to take it to a five-point ball game with half an hour to play. 19-24.

The score kept going back and forth and it was Leicester who scored next, securing their bonus-point try through Ben White who latched on to an offload from Harry Simmonds to give his side a 12-point advantage going into the last 20 minutes. 19-31.

The game started to turn in Bath’s favour when replacement Zach Mercer continued his strong start to the campaign with a try after 65 minutes. The home side – who were dominant at the scrum throughout the 80 minutes – piled on the pressure at the set-piece deep in the Leicester 22. Against the head, the pack drove Leicester back and James Phillips did enough to cause Fred Tuliagi to lose control at the base. Mercer was on hand to pounce on the loose ball and score, and Burns’ conversion ensured that Bath would go into the closing stages needing just a converted score to secure victory. 26-31.

A frantic last 10 minutes followed and the pack were once again on hand to deliver the crucial blow. With play five metres from the Leicester line, Bath earned penalty after penalty at the scrum. Joe Maksymiw was shown a yellow card for persistent infringements at the set-piece, and the man advantage paid-off when Greg Macdonald signalled for the penalty try to give Bath a two-point lead with a minute to play.

The Blue, Black and White closed out the final stages and after contributing 21 points, it was fitting that Burns was the man to kick to touch and bring an end to the game.

Final score: Bath Rugby 33-31 Leicester Tigers

Match details

Recreation Ground
Anglo-Welsh Cup
10 November 2017
KO 19:45

Attendance: 14,354
Referee: Greg MacDonald
Half Time score: 13-17

Bath:

Tries: Burns (40), Mercer (65)

Conversions: Burns (41, 67)

Penalties: Burns (25, 32, 42, 50)

Tigers:

Tries: Holmes (16, 44), Thompstone (35), White (60)

Conversions: Hardwick (18, 36, 45, 61)

Penalties: Hardwick (9)

19th November 2017 London Irish v Bath

 Bath Rugby were made to work right to the final whistle, as they claimed a hard-fought 18-22 victory against a spirited London Irish side at the Madejski Stadium.

It was Irish, who got the scoreboard ticking over, with Tommy Bell kicking the home side into an early lead with just three minutes on the clock. However, Bath hit back just four minutes later with a well-worked try finished off by Matt Banahan. Aled Brew was the architect of the move, as the Welsh winger offloaded to Paul Grant on the touchline, before the centre found his midfield partner to score. 3-7

Burns extended Bath’s lead to seven points six minutes later, before Irish reduced the deficit with their first try of the afternoon. The home side took a quick free-kick in the midfield, before switching play to the left wing, where Joe Cokanasiga put fullback James Marshall through over the whitewash. 8-10

Midway through the half and with Bath dictating play in the Irish 22, Kahn Fotuali’i found Burns in the pocket, and the fly-half showed his composure to slot a drop goal. 8-13

With just 13 minutes until the interval, Burns was back on the scoreboard once again. After Irish were penalised at the scrum on halfway, Burns called for a long range kick at goal. The distance was no problem for Burns, as he continued his recent scoring form in impressive fashion. 8-16

Irish then found themselves within touching distance of their second try, but for the intervention of Fotuali’i, who denied Marshall with the try line in his reach. Alex Lewington made the initial break down the left wing before finding Marshall, who was momentarily halted by captain Matt Garvey. As the Irish fullback regained his feet and made his dive for the line, Fotuali’i came sweeping across to bundle his man into touch.

However, Irish weren’t finished for the half, clawing back a further three points through Bell to put his side within five points.

Half-time score – London Irish 11-16 Bath Rugby

Burns increased Bath’s advantage to eight points seven minutes into the second-half, taking his tally to 14 points for the afternoon. It was quickly 17 points for Burns, as he helped put a bit of daylight on proceedings with another pinpoint penalty with 20 minutes to play. 11-22

Irish continued to show their resilience, as they fought their way back into the game. With penalty advantage looming in the Bath 22, Irish made the pressure count, as Scott Steele found his way through the Bath tacklers to make it a tense final five minutes. 18-22.

Bath spent the remaining few minutes of the match camped on their own line, but the visitors managed to survive the Irish onslaught and close out the game.

Full-time score – London Irish 18-22 Bath Rugby

Match details

Madejski Stadium
Gallagher Premiership
19 November 2017
KO 15:00

Referee: Tom Foley
Half Time score: 11-16

Irish:

Tries: Marshall (18), Steele (74)

Conversions: Tonks (75)

Penalties: Bell (2, 40)

Bath:

Tries: Banahan (7)

Conversions: Burns (8)

Penalties: Burns (13, 26, 46, 59)

Drop goals: Burns (23)

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

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

 2nd December 2017 Exeter v Bath

Bath Rugby rescued a try bonus point in the final ten minutes of their Aviva Premiership encounter with a ruthless Exeter Chiefs, who ran out 42-29 winners.

Exeter stunned their opponents in the first-half, piling on the pressure in close quarters with wave after wave of attack. Three of their first-half tries came from close range, Luke Cowan-Dickie grounding the ball for the first. Gareth Steenson added the conversion. 7-0.

James Short scored the second on 15 minutes, as the home side attacked from their own half. Short combined well with his fellow wing, Olly Woodburn, down the left touchline to score in the corner. Steenson converted. 14-0.

A series of penalties in Bath’s favour allowed the visitors to make their way downfield, with Freddie Burns getting three points on the board frim just outside the 22, but the home side were in a dominant mood, and first Mitch Lees then Don Armand drove their way over the white wash.

Half-time: Exeter Chiefs 28 – Bath Rugby 3.

Thomas Waldrom added to the Chiefs’ tally on 53 minutes, but Bath finally began to find chinks in the Exeter defence. Pressure from Jonathan Joseph forced Woodburn to knock-on, and the British and Irish Lion hacked on, gathered and raced away to score the breakaway try. The centre converted his own try.

Steenson collected a quick pass from Short to score his own seven-pointer moments later, but Bath were finding their rhythm as the final 10 minutes approached.

Anthony Watson was on the end of a sweeping move through the hands that started with a quick tap penalty from Priestland to attack the broken field. The replacement fly-half chipped ahead, Ben Tapuai gathered and gained vital metres before Aled Brew and replacement Chris Cook both kept the move alive, allowing Watson to go over in the corner. Priestland converted. 42-17.

Brew scored minutes later, with Joseph instrumental in the build-up. The centre first fed replacement Matt Banahan, who went on a surging run down the right wing, before the ball was moved quickly back infield. Joseph was again the link man, passing out to Brew, who did just enough to slide the ball over the line before he was forced into touch. 42-22.

The three Bath scores set-up a frantic final few minutes. With just twenty seconds left on the clock, the visitors were awarded a scrum – which had been solid for most of the game – 30 metres out. The pack stayed steady, and clean ball found its way to Banahan, who scythed through the midfield to score the bonus point try. Priestland added the conversion as the final whistle blew.

Final score: Exeter Chiefs 42 – Bath Rugby 29.

Match details

Sandy Park
Gallagher Premiership
2 December 2017
KO 14:00

Attendance: 12,384
Referee: JP Doyle
Half Time score: 28-3

9th December 2017 Toulon v Bath

Bath Rugby fell to a late Anthony Belleau try, as Toulon maintained their 100% start in the European Rugby Champions Cup with a 24-20 victory at Stade Mayol.

Bath got the first points of the afternoon from the boot of Rhys Priestland. It came after Ben Tapuai pounced on a fumble from Francois Trinh-Duc, before hacking up field from his own 22. The Australian and his midfield partner Jonathan Joseph gave chase and forced Semi Radradra into conceding a penalty. Priestland made no mistake, and put his side into a 0-3 lead with 12 minutes on the clock. 0-3

It got even better for the visitors two minutes later, with Anthony Watson finishing off a well-worked try. Joseph spread the ball wide to Aled Brew and the Welsh winger bulldozed his way through the tackle of Josua Tuisova before offloading to the on-rushing Watson, who extended Bath’s lead. Priestland made it a seven point score with the successful conversion. 0-10

With six minutes to play in the half, Toulon scored a try of their own. The home side piled on the pressure in attack, which created the numbers out wide for Ma’a Nonu to finish under the posts. 7-10

With the clock in the red, Priestland added another penalty to give his side a six-point advantage going into the interval.

Half-time – Toulon 7-13 Bath Rugby

Bath were reduced to 14 men nine minutes into the second-half, with Chris Cook seeing yellow for an infringement at the breakdown. In the set piece that followed, Alby Mathewson picked up from the back of the scrum and powered his way over the try line. Trinh-Duc’s conversion put Toulon in the lead for the first time in the game. 14-13

With a little less than 20 minutes to play, Bath found themselves back in front on the scoreboard, taking advantage of a sliced kick from Chris Ashton. Pegged back in the in goal area, the former England international aimed his kick for touch, but instead found its way into the hands of Joseph, who put Bath back in control on the scoreboard. 14-20

Trinh-Duc kicked his side to within three points, which meant a tense final 15 minutes at the Stade Mayol. Toulon were a fraction from their second try, but for a superb last-ditch tackle from Paul Grant, who managed to stop Ashton after a breakway move from the home side. 17-20

Toulon continued to press the Bath defence, and despite some resolute defending, French side managed to find their way through. It was a touch of magic from replacement Anthony Belleau, who pounced on his own grubber kick from five metres out to put Toulon in the driving seat with four minutes remaining. 24-20

Bath weren’t ready to throw in the towel, giving everything in the closing minutes with one final assault on the Toulon line. However, the three-time European winners stood firm and maintained their unbeaten start in the competition.

Full-time – Toulon 24-20 Bath Rugby

16TH DECEMBER BATH V TOULON

Bath Rugby recorded their 100th victory in Europe, with a 26-21 European Rugby Champions Cup triumph over three-time Champions Toulon at the Recreation Ground.

Bath got off to a blistering start scoring inside a minute of play. It was Aled Brew who created the attack, stealing the ball from the kick-off. The Welsh winger then made another strong carry before offloading to Beno Obano, who bulldozed his way over the whitewash from close range. Rhys Priestland made it a seven-point score with the resulting conversion. 7-0.

It got even better for the home side as Priestland added two quickfire penalties to make it 13-0 with as many minutes on the clock.

The visitors, who spent large parts of the first 40 camped in their own half, hit back with a try of their own. It was an opportunistic score, Alby Mathewson crossing after a well-worked move from the line-out. Francois Trinh-duc added the extras. 13-7.

With the game heading into the last 10 minutes of the half, Anthony Watson created a moment of magic to extend Bath’s lead. After receiving an inside pass from Jonathan Joseph on the right wing, Watson accelerated through the challenges of two Toulon defenders before powering his way over the line. 18-10.

After Trinh-Duc reduced arrears to five points from the tee, it was left to Watson to have the final word of the half. Tom Dunn and Obano created the attacking foundation with strong carries, and then the fullback finished the move in style. The England international made his way over to the left wing searching for the gap, but it wasn’t needed as he left his opposite number, Hugo Bonneval, for dust to finish in the corner for his second of the evening.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 23-13 Toulon

Toulon were out of the blocks quickly in the second-half, and owed their second try of the game to a superb break from Ma’a Nonu. The former All Black unlocked the Bath defence before offloading to Chris Ashton in support. With the line in his sights, the back-tracking Jack Wilson produced a try-saving tackle, however moments later the ball found its way to Samu Manoa, who bundled his way over the line, despite the brave efforts of Dunn who tried to halt the second rower. 23-18.

With 25 minutes left to play, Bath gave themselves a bit of breathing space with another Priestland penalty, much to the delight of the near-capacity crowd at the Rec. His French counterpart Trinh-Duc ensured that it would be a nervy finale with a penalty of his own. 26-21.

The three-time European Champions continued to pile on the pressure as they searched for a score that would see them claim a second victory over Bath in as many weeks. Toulon gave it their best shot, going through over 30 phases as they pressurized a resolute Bath defence, but the Blue, Black and White stood firm and closed out the game, the win taking them to the top of Pool 5.

Final score: Bath Rugby 26-21 Toulon

23rd DECEMBER 2017 SALE V BATH

Four second-half tries from a dominant Sale Sharks led to a 32-9 defeat for Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Rhys Priestland opened the scoring for Bath in a cagey first-half, knocking over the penalty after a Bath lineout had been turned into a full penalty by referee Ian Tempest after Andrei Ostrikov had instigated some pushing and shoving on the touchline. 0-3.

The Welsh international doubled the lead two minutes later with another penalty from the tee, before AJ MacGinty got his side’s first points of the afternoon on 13 minutes. 3-6.

The home side turned down two kickable penalties in an attempt to drive their way over the line, but the stubborn defence of Bath held them out, and they came away empty handed.

As the opening forty minutes drew to a close, Bath came agonisingly close to scoring, twice being held up over the line. Instead, they had to settle for a further three points from the boot of Priestland. MacGinty then added another three of his own to narrow the gap once more on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time score: Sale Sharks 6 – Bath Rugby 9.

Sale came out of the changing rooms firing in the second-half, and quickly started dominating the game. They scored two quickfire tries – Josh Strauss got the first, barrelling over from short range, before Byron McGuigan went over out wide. 18-9.

Their third came on 60 minutes through James O’Connor, the fullback juggling the ball before finally holding on and finishing off a good break from MacGinty.

The fly-half was at the heart of Sale’s fourth try as well – putting in a neat chip ahead for the on-rushing McGuigan. The winger and Bath replacement Chris Cook raced for the ball as it went over the line, but the awkward bounce saw it come back to Will Cliff instead, who dotted down. MacGinty added the conversion.

Bath continued to try and work their way over the Sale line, but the Sharks, buoyed on by the cheering home crowd, held firm and closed out the win.

Final score: Sale Sharks 32 – Bath Rugby 9.

29TH DECEMBER 2017 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby ended 2017 with a nine-try thriller, but couldn’t stop Wasps from securing a 26-31 victory at the Rec.

Wasps were quickly out of the blocks with a try after just eight minutes. It came after sustained pressure from the in-form side, which was finished off in the corner by Marcus Watson. Danny Cipriani added the conversion to make it a seven-point score. 0-7.

The waves of attack continued, and the visitors doubled their lead less than 10 minutes later, with scrum-half Dan Robson darting through the Bath defence to score from close range. 0-14.

It got even better for the men in white, who added their third try of the evening soon after, with Watson crossing for his second of the game after good work from Thomas Young and Robson on the overlap. 0-19.

The game turned Bath’s way 10 minutes from the interval, when Watson was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on. A man to the good, the Blue, Black and White made the numbers count with their first try under the Friday night lights. A strong scrum from the pack gave Kahn Fotuali’i good ball, and the scrum-half sent his half-back partner Rhys Priestland through the gap to score. The fly-half converted his own try to reduce the gap to 12 points. 7-19.

With the clock running into the red, Bath scored a quick-fire second try through Jack Wilson. The winger collected the ball on the right wing, and fended off the attentions of Robson to send his side into the half-time break just five points adrift.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 14-19 Wasps

Three minutes into the second-half Wasps secured the bonus point, with their fourth try of the evening. Robson was the architect of the move, picking up from the back of the ruck before sending Juan De Jongh in for a simple run-in. 14-26.

Bath weren’t going to give up without a fight, and their patience was rewarded when Paul Grant crossed the whitewash with just under 30 minutes to play. The openside flanker used every ounce of energy to reach for the line, and after consultation with the TMO, the try was awarded. 19-26.

The flurry of tries kept coming, as Wasps hit back through Gaby Lovobalavu, who took Willie Le Roux’s pass in his stride to score in the corner. 19-31.

With 17 minutes to play, Bath were handed a lifeline when Le Roux was shown the yellow card for offside. Once again, Bath made the numerical advantage work in their favour, as Zach Mercer powered his way over the try line. The number eight held off two Wasps defenders to score under the posts and take the game into a nail-biting final 15 minutes. 26-31.

Wasps showed their experience keeping ball in hand for large parts of the final quarter, and despite the best efforts of the Blue, Black and White, Bath had to settle for two bonus points.

Final score: Bath Rugby 26-31 Wasps.

2018

5th JANUARY 2018 WORCESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby stormed to a 25-46, six-try win over Worcester Warriors at Sixways Stadium, with Paul Grant, Matt Garvey, Anthony Watson, James Phillips and Kahn Fotuali’i all crossing the whitewash.

It was a composed start from Bath, who controlled the opening exchanges and patiently built phases, testing their opposition’s defence. Rhys Priestland took the lead for his side after seven minutes with a penalty after Worcester infringed at the lineout. 0-3.

Another period of sustained pressure followed, with Jonathan Joseph and Watson both looking threatening, before Priestland slotted another three points to double the lead. 0-6.

Worcester fullback Chris Pennell missed two penalties – one long range effort, one more straight-forward – before he got the home side on the scoreboard at the third attempt after 27 minutes. 3-6.

With five minutes left of the half, Tapuai carved through the Worcester defence, setting up the first try of the evening for Grant. Chris Cook was on hand to pop the pass to the back rower, who crashed through the defence and over the line. Priestland added the conversion, before Pennell added a further three points for the hosts on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time: Worcester Warriors 6 – Bath Rugby 13.

Whilst Bath had calmly controlled the first-half, the game exploded into life after the break, with captain Garvey next to add to the scoreboard.

Watson sparked the break, with Aled Brew and Henry Thomas both keeping the move alive. Garvey got his hands on the ball, and shrugged off the defence to barge his way over the line. Priestland converted. 6-20.

The visitors turned defence to attack, the onrushing line forcing Worcester into kicking the ball, and Cook gratefully ran it back at them. He found Watson in support, and the fullback sprinted away for the third try of the evening. Priestland was again on target with the extras. 6-27.

The hosts looked threatening when they did have ball in hand. They turned down a kickable penalty in the Bath 22, instead going for touch, and their decision proved right after two phases as David Denton crashed over from short range. Pennell found his target with the conversion. 13-27.

Two minutes later, and Bath had the bonus point try courtesy of Man of the Match, James Phillips. They turned the ball over and charged up field, with the big lock finding himself in space in the 22. He rampaged through the four men in defence to dive over the line. Replacement Freddie Burns converted. 13-34.

The final 10 minutes of the game were approaching, but Bath maintained the pressure as Fotuali’i – on for Cook – scored the first of his brace, touching down behind the posts after charging down Jamie Shillcock’s kick. Burns added the simple conversion. 13-41.

Worcester kept fighting to get something from the game, and after Phillips was shown a yellow card, they made the extra man count – replacement hooker Joe Taufete’e going over from short range from the lineout. Pennell converted. 20-41.

It was a breathless final five minutes. Fotuali’i added his second after a strong break from Mercer and sublime behind-the-back pass from replacement James Wilson allowed the scrum-half to dart over the line.

The Samoan’s try was swiftly followed for a third for the home side – Perry Humphreys going over out wide after a quickly taken scrum penalty.

Final score: Worcester Warriors 25 – Bath Rugby 46.

12th JANUARY 2018 BATH V SCARLETS

Bath Rugby came unstuck against an impressive Scarlets side who secured a 17-35 victory in Round 5 of the European Rugby Champions Cup at the Rec.

Scarlets took the lead inside 10 minutes with a superb counter-attack, finished off by Tadgh Beirn. Rhys Patchell created the move, as the visitors burst into the Bath half with a series of offloads. The ball then found its way to Beirn, who jinked his way through the defence to score. Dan Jones added the conversion. 0-7.

Bath got their first points on 22 minutes with a penalty, after coming inches from scoring of their own. Matt Banahan took the crash ball, but was halted just short of the line. However, the referee signalled for the penalty and showed a yellow card to John Barclay, who came in from the side. Freddie Burns, who came on for Rhys Priestland on the fourth minute, slotted the kick. 3-7.

There was little respite for the Bath defence though as Scarlets continued to pile on the pressure. The visitors quickly moved the ball through the hands from left to right, and Paul Asquith provided the finish in the corner. 3-12.

Seven minutes later, and the Pro 12 Champions had their third – scrum-half Gareth Davies fended off the challenges to release Hadleigh Parkes, who scored under the posts. Jones was on target with the conversion. 3-19.

The Welsh side were impressive throughout the opening 40 minutes, maintaining the pressure and not allowing Bath to get any foothold in the game, and Jones added another three points to extend the lead at the interval.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 3 – Scarlets 22.

10 minutes into the second-half, and despite some resilience from the home side, Scarlets orchestrated their bonus point try. Rhys Patchell opted for a grubber through the gap, and it landed in the arms of Scott Williams who dived over the whitewash in the corner. Jones was on target for the extra two. 3-29.

Bath crossed the line with just over 20 minutes to play, and it was a moment of brilliance from the men in black. They worked through the phases, drawing the defence. Burns spotted the space out wide and kicked into the corner, finding the soaring Matt Banahan, who managed to stay in field and touchdown for the try in the air, despite the best efforts of the Scarlets defence. Burns added the conversion. 10-29.

Jones added a further penalty 12 minutes from time, but the home side continued to press in the final quarter and it was Zach Mercer who profited. The back rower powered his way over from close range with six minutes remaining, and Burns was again successful with the conversion. 17-32.

Scarlets held out though, and with just a minute remaining, Jones added a long range penalty to secure an impressive victory for the Welsh side.

There is still hope for Bath to qualify for the knock-out stages, with all eyes now on the trip to Benetton next Saturday.

Final score: Bath Rugby 17 – Scarlets 35.

 

20th JANUARY 2018 BENETTON V BATH

Bath Rugby powered to a seven-try, 28-47 bonus point win over Benetton Rugby in the final round of this year’s European Rugby Champions Cup.

Keeping their hands on the ball in the opening exchanges, it was the home side who opened the scoring. Quick ball from the base of the scrum found its way to Luca Sperandio on the wing. He put in a neat chip ahead, and luck was with the Italian. Freddie  Burns was unable to gather cleanly and Sperandio instead found the ball in his arms and sprinted away to score. Tommaso Allan added the conversion. 7-0.

Baath hit back quickly, and kept control of the game throughout the first-half. Two minutes after the home side had opened the scoring, Tom Dunn blasted over the try line to score after a strong driving maul. Burns converted, drawing the two sides level.

Another lineout five metres from the Benetton try line produced another score on the 23rd minute – referee Pascal Gauzere judging the home side to have prevented Bath from scoring illegally. He showed no hesitation in awarding the penalty try and sent scrum-half Edoardo Gori to the sin-bin. 7-14.

With a man advantage, the gaps opened up for the visitors. A chip from Jonathan Joseph saw Aled Brew make ground down the left wing. The ball was fed back inside, with Burns and then Watson firing passes out. The fullback’s landed in the hands of an unmarked Matt Banahan, who just held on to dot down over the line. Burns was again on target with the conversion. 7-21.

The bonus-point came courtesy of Anthony Watson. The fullback started the move from deep with one of his trademark arching, probing runs. Elliott Stooke carried on the attack with a powerful charge, before Brew broke free. He found the England international in support, who had a simple run in over the line. Burns converted. 7-28.

Bath were in possession as the official match clock ticked to forty minutes, and there was just time for one more attack, that led to a classy try. Burns found Joseph in a gap with a sumptuous pass, and the centre turned on the pace to glide through the defence and across the whitewash. The fly-half added the extras.

Half-time score: Benetton Rugby 7 – Bath Rugby 35.

Benetton – who had run both Scarlets and Toulon close in earlier rounds – came out firing in the second-half, and they made the pressure count with two quick tries. Sebastian Negri went over first from close range after a series of carries, before Tommaso Benvenuti scored a breakaway try despite the chase of Ben Tapuai and Watson. Allan converted both tries to take the score to 21-35.

Bath worked hard to maintain their control of the game, and the driving maul – proving to be a dominant weapon – was put to good use again. Zach Mercer splintered from the back of the drive and dived in to the corner. Burns was on target with the tricky touchline conversion. 21-42.

Two minutes from time, Bath’s seventh try of the evening came courtesy of replacement Luke Charteris, who stretched over the line after another authoritative drive from the Bath pack.

Benetton got their own bonus point try with the last play of the game – the Television Match Official confirming that Monty Ioane hadn’t strayed into touch before scoring. Allan converted with the final kick of the game.

The team did all they could by securing the bonus point win to put themselves in contention for the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup, but with Toulon getting a losing bonus point in their game at the Parc y Scarlets, it is the Welsh and French sides who progress to the Quarter-Finals from Pool 5.

Final score: Benetton Rugby 28 – Bath Rugby 47.

27th JANUARY 2018 BATH V NEWCASTLE

Bath Rugby scored three second-half tries to secure a 21-8 victory over Newcastle Falcons, to maintain their unbeaten record in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

It was a strong start from the visitors as they piled on the pressure in the opening 10 minutes. Despite four quick-fire penalties, the resolute Bath defence ensured the visitors were unable to make the territory count.

Juan Pablo Socino came within a metre of opening the scoring before he was hauled down short of the line, before Bath applied some force of their own in the oppositions’ 22.

With just over 10 minutes to play in the half, Ally Hogg looked like he had given his side the lead, but the former Scottish international was adjudged to have been held in the tackle before reaching for the line and the score ruled out.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 0-0 Newcastle Falcons.

The game burst into life 10 minutes into the second-half when Paul Grant scored the opening try of the game. Bath attacked the the Falcons’ line and the Kiwi number eight found himself under a pile of bodies, burrowing over from close range. Freddie Burns, the leading points scorer in the history of the competition, added the extras to take his overall tally to 211 points. 7-0.

Three minutes later, Joel Hodgson notched a penalty from mid-way inside the Bath half to put his side to within four points on the scoreboard. 7-3

With just over 15 minutes to go, Bath increased their lead with an excellent counter-attacking move. Burns released Darren Atkins on his own 10m line and the young fullback went beyond halfway before sending the impressive Josh Bayliss through the gap. Bath used quick ball from the resulting ruck and Matt Banahan powered his way into the 22, with the winger finding Nathan Charles with a clever offload to release the replacement hooker over to score. Burns was on target with the conversion to take the score to 14-3.

Falcons weren’t giving up without a fight, and their patience was rewarded with a try of their own. Loose ball from a Bath scrum set the Falcons going forward, and Adam Radwan seized the opportunity, sprinting down the right wing and then flinging the ball inside to Craig Willis, who had a simple run-in. 14-8.

With the clock ticking down, and Bath in the ascendancy, Man of the Match Burns showed his experience to put the game beyond doubt. Inside the Falcons 22, the fly-half spotted the space out wide and put a pinpoint kick into the grateful hands of replacement Jack Wilson, who touched down in the corner. Burns converted. 21-8.

The hosts closed out the final few minutes, with big contributions made by replacements Miles Reid and Will Britton, who excelled on their first team debuts for the Club.

Bath travel to Ospreys next Friday looking to secure their place in the final four of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Final score: Bath Rugby 21-8 Newcastle Falcons

2nd FEBRUARY 2018 OSPREYS V BATH

Bath Rugby secured a home Semi-Final in the Anglo-Welsh Cup courtesy of a hard-fought 19-32 win over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys were first of the mark with the opening try coming after 11 minutes. With penalty advantage looming, Luke Price opted for the kick to the corner. The fly-half’s kick found the grateful arms of winger Dewi Cross, who crossed the try line to score. Price added the extras to give the home side an early lead. 7-0

Bath hit back with two quick-fire penalties from Josh Lewis, to close the gap to one point with 20 minutes on the clock. 7-6

Two minutes later, the Welsh side went over the whitewash for the second time. The hosts used the catch and drive to good effect, and Sam Cross went over to give his side a six-point lead. 12-6

With the game heading into the final 10 minutes of the half, Bath went over for their first try of the evening. Max Green showed his quick thinking with a tap and go from a penalty inside the Ospreys 22. The forwards then took over, driving Bath to within a few metres of the line. With the try line in sight, Levi Douglas powered his way over, and Lewis ensured his side would go into the half-time break with a narrow lead.

Half-time – Ospreys 12-13 Bath Rugb

Bath were quick out of the blocks in the second-half, which resulted in a second try of the game for the Blue, Black and White. A superb break from Josh Bayliss sent Bath steamrolling into the Ospreys 22, before Lewis found Matt Banahan with a superb inside pass to score. 12-18

With 18 minutes to play, Ospreys found their way back in the game through James Hook. Sustained pressure from the home side paid off, as the experienced centre managed to ground the ball in the corner, despite the best efforts of the Bath defence. 19-18

Ospreys weren’t in the lead for long, as Bath showed their fighting spirit to get themselves back in front. The move started with a clever kick through from Banahan deep into the Ospreys 22, which was well chased down by Darren Atkins. The fullback managed to bundle his opposite man over the try line, which resulted in a five metre scrum. That set the tone, as Bath forced Ospreys into four consecutive penalties, which led to a penalty try. 19-25

It was a similar story moments later as Bath continued to attack the Ospreys set-piece. A second penalty try was quick to follow and the Blue, Black and White put a bit of daylight on the scoreboard. 19-32

Bath played out the closing stages to secure a home Semi-Final at the Rec to be played on the weekend of 9th-11th March.

Full-time – Ospreys 19-32 Bath Rugby

9th FEBRUARY 2019 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

17 points from the boot of Man of the Match Freddie Burns and a try a-piece for Matt Banahan, Nick Auterac and Ross Batty powered Bath Rugby to a 32-9 victory over Northampton Saints at the Rec.

It was the visitors who got the first points on the board, Piers Francis taking his side to a six point lead with two penalties in the opening quarter. 0-6.

But then Bath fought back, and their first meaningful attack of the game – spurred on by the abrasive Will Hurrell – saw Freddie Burns notch the home side’s first three points of the game from the tee. The fly-half added a further three on the half-hour to draw the sides level after another powerful attack forced Saints to infringe. 6-6.

The home side were in the ascendancy and a third penalty from Burns gave Bath the lead with three minutes left to play of the half.

With half-time looming, the hosts took control of the game when Saints spilled the ball. Ben Tapuai pounced, hacking the ball ahead. Banahan was on hand to gather, and the winger wrong-footed the defending Ben Foden to go round him and score in the corner. Burns was on target with the touchline conversion.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 16 – Northampton Saints 6.

The ten-point lead was one Bath never relinquished. James Phillips bulldozed his way towards the line but was held up, before Burns added his fourth penalty of the night.

Francis responded for the visitors, but Burns was quick to cancel out the three points and restore his side’s 13-point advantage. 22-9.

Bath continued to push hard on the Saints defence – James Wilson and Aled Brew linking up well to threaten down the left wing on numerous occasions, with the former Saint looking particularly dangerous on the ball.

The sustained pressure finally told with ten minutes left to play. Another dominant scrum from the pack saw the ball quickly worked out to Wilson, and whilst the fullback was stopped in his tracks, the ball was recycled and worked through the hands, stretching the Northampton defence. A clever offload from Charlie Ewels found Burns, who spotted the on-rushing Auterac in acres of space and the replacement strolled over the line and score. 27-9.

The home side kept their foot on the throttle, and with three minutes left on the clock, they got their third try. Tapuai offloaded to replacement Josh Lewis, who cut a scything line through the defence. The fly-half was stopped short of the line, but the ball was quickly worked out to Batty for the hooker to score and round off the victory.

Final score: Bath Rugby 32 – Northampton Saints 9.

16th FEBRUARY 2018 NEWCASTLE V BATH

Newcastle Falcons swept aside the challenge of Bath Rugby with a 29-12 victory at Kingston Park.

The home side got the first points on the scoreboard with Sinoti Sinoti continuing his recent rich vein of form with a try. Josh Matavesi was the architect of the move, as he stormed down the left channel before offloading to Sinoti, who finished in the corner. 7-0

Falcons moved into a 14-point lead after 15 minutes as Flood crossed for their second try of the half. The fly-half broke through the Bath defence running in from the edge of the 22 to put his side in control. The former England international added the conversion to take his tally to nine points. 14-0

Five minutes before the interval, Bath were reduced to 14 men with Aled Brew shown a yellow card for a foul in Falcons’ captain Michael Young. The home side quickly made the man advantage count and extended their lead. Flood gave his side the attacking line-out after Bath had conceded a penalty in the 22. From the resulting throw, Falcons drove their way over the line and Kyle Cooper touched down to score.

Half-time – Newcastle Falcons 21-0 Bath Rugby

Bath hit back six minutes into the second-half with their first try of the evening at Kingston Park. Following sustained pressure on the Falcons’ line, Bath switched the ball out wide and it found Cooper Vuna, who marked his debut with an impressive finish in the corner. 21-7

It wasn’t long before Falcons secured their bonus-point try, with Verenki Goneva showing his power to cross the whitewash. It was a rampaging run from the Fijian, who beat two Bath defenders on the right wing before crossing over the try line. 26-7

Despite large spells of pressure in the second-half, Bath were unable to make their territory count as they came up against a resilient Falcons defence.

Flood kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty five minutes from time to further increase Falcons’ lead. With the clock in the red, Bath went for one final attack, which resulted in a consolation try for the Blue, Black and White. A catch and drive from the line-out saw Anthony Perenise mark his return from injury with a try.

Final score – Newcastle Falcons 29-12 Bath Rugby

 24th FEBRUARY 2018 BATH V SALE

A last minute Zach Mercer try converted by James Wilson gave Bath Rugby a dramatic 33-32 victory against Sale Sharks at the Rec.

Bath were first off the mark, with Wilson marking his first appearance at fly-half for the Club by slotting two early penalties. 6-0

Sale hit back seven minutes later with the opening try of the afternoon. A break from Will Addison set the foundations for the attack after an impressive break into the Bath 22. It was then left to Denny Solomona, who jinked his way past the Bath defence to score under posts. De Klerk added the extras to put the visitors in the lead. 6-7

It wasn’t long before Sale had their second try on the board, with Marland Yarde the next to cross the whitewash. A well-worked move from the line-out saw De Klerk release the ball out wide, which eventually found Yarde, who touched down in the corner. 6-12

Bath reduced the deficit mid-way into the first half, with Wilson maintaining his 100% record from the boot to take the home side to within three points. 9-12

Five minutes before the interval, Zach Mercer scored Bath’s opening try of the game. With Bath piling on the pressure in the Sale 22, it was Taulupe Faletau who unlocked the defence on his return to action. The number eight stepped into the line and released his fellow back rower Mercer through the gap to score. 16-15

There was just enough time for De Klerk to get back in on the act with another three points, as the teams went into the interval closely-poised at 16-18.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 16-18 Sale Sharks

The prolific De Klerk notched another penalty in the four minutes into the second-half, before Bath went over the try line to move back in front. Matt Garvey and Will Hurrell both went close before the ball was recycled to Josh Bayliss, who scored his first Aviva Premiership try. 23-21

De Klerk and Wilson then exchanged penalties, before the former edged his side back in front courtesy of another three points with 60 minutes on the clock. 26-27

The scrum-half was once again central to Sale’s third try, as the visitors increased their advantage at the Rec. De Klerk peeled off the scrum in his own half, before releasing Solomona on the wing. The England international chased his own chip over the top and gathered to score his second of the game. 26-32

The drama wasn’t over, as Bath went for one final attack in the Sale 22 with three minutes to play. The Blue, Black and White went through over 20 phases before Ben Tapuai offloaded to Mercer, who dummied his way inside the sale defence to add a crucial try. Wilson showed his composure to take his tally to 18 points and secure a dramatic victory for Bath.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 33-32 Sale Sharks

4th MARCH 2018 HARLEQUINS V BATH

Bath Rugby fell to a 20-5 defeat to Harlequins at the Stoop in Round 17 of the Aviva Premiership this afternoon.

After the game was postponed from Friday night due to the adverse weather conditions, both teams were desperate to get out on the field.

A cagey first-half saw Bath take the lead on the 16th minute. Taulupe Faletau secured clean ball from the base of the scrum, allowing Kahn Fotuali’i to burst through the gap in the Quins’ defence. The Samoan scrum-half found Matt Banahan outside him, who had a simple canter over the line. 0-5.

Tim Visser opened the scoring for the home sid e with an interception try, and Demetri Catrakilis added the conversion to take the lead.

The try shifted momentum in favour of the home side, and the fly-half then extended Quins’ lead on the 28th minute with a penalty. He missed with a second attempt four minutes from the break, as neither side were able to capitalise on their chances.

Half-time: Harlequins 10 – Bath Rugby 5.

Bath started the second-half on the attack, but resilient last-ditch defence from Quins prevented them from scoring. Instead, the home side were able to turn the pressure around, forcing the visitors into errors and ill-discipline.

Quins were upping the tempo as the seconds ticked by, and referee JP Doyle eventually lost patience, sending replacement Max Lahiff to the sin-bin. Moments later, Quins made the extra man count, Kyle Sinckler crashing over from short range. Castrakilis added the conversion. 17-5.

Bath were desperately trying to get back in to the game, and went close with a powerful run from James Wilson bringing Nathan Catt and Cooper Vuna into the play, but Quins held firm.

The Television Match Official was called on twice in the last ten minutes, both times looking at potential Bath scores. First Zach Mercer was ruled to have been held up over the line, then Catt looked to have got the ball down, but there was no clear grounding.

Quins were clinging on for victory, and replacement Marcus Smith added a penalty three minutes before time.

With seconds on the clock, Smith intercepted a Bath pass, and looked to be away for the home side’s third try. Mercer, however, had other ideas, and the back row chased down his fellow England squad apprentice to bundle him into touch.

Final score: Harlequins 20 – Bath Rugby 5.

9th MARCH 2018 BATH V NORTHAMPTON ANGLO WELSH

Bath Rugby secured their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final with a tense 13-12 win over Northampton Saints in the pouring rain at the Rec.

Josh Lewis gave the home side the lead after four minutes, sending a tricky long-range penalty attempt sailing through the posts. 3-0.

Conditions had their part to play in the game, with errors coming from both sides. But Anglo-Welsh Cup Man of the Match Lewis controlled proceedings excellently in the opening stages of the game, and it was another of his probing touch-finders that led to the first try of the game.

The kick gave Saints a defensive line-out in the 22, and when the ball came down to scrum-half Cobus Reinach was well marshalled by Nathan Charles. Tom Ellis, in his first appearance of the season, pounced on the loose ball and managed to pass it back to Levi Douglas, who powered over the line. Lewis added the conversion. 10-0.

Stephen Myler chipped away at Bath’s scoreboard advantage with two penalties leading up to the half-hour mark. He added a third on 30 minutes when Lewis was shown a yellow card for his second professional foul in quick succession.

Bath weathered the sin-bin period well, ensuring that the Saints attack was kept at bay until half-time.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 10–9 Northampton Saints

As the rain continued to fall, Bath were fighting to extend their lead, but Lewis was unable to take advantage with another long-range penalty attempt.

Instead, Myler stepped up to take the lead for the visitors in the 55th minute, slotting his fourth penalty of the game after the Saints’ front row was given the decision at the scrum. 10-12.

It was nip and tuck throughout the game, with both sides evenly matched at the set-piece, but then, with 13 minutes to play, came the decisive moment. After consultation with the TMO, Teimana Harrison was shown a red card by referee Adam Jones for aiming a headbutt Nathan Catt. Lewis calmly slotted the resulting penalty, taking his side back in to the lead.

And from there, despite a late rally from Saints with time up on the clock, Bath held on to take their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final at Kingsholm next Sunday.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 13-12 Northampton Saints

23rd MARCH 2018 BATH V EXETER

Joe Simmonds slotted a penalty five minutes from time to give Exeter Chiefs a dramatic 18-20 victory over Bath Rugby at the Rec.

Exeter got the first points on the board after six minutes, with Joe Simmonds slotting a routine penalty. It got even better for the reigning Aviva Premiership champions, as they extended their lead with their first try of the game. The Chiefs opted for the pick and go strategy, and after multiple phases, their efforts were rewarded. It was Jonny Hill who found himself under a pile of bodies, and after consultation with the TMO, the try was given. 0-10

10 minutes before the interval, Bath closed the gap to seven points as Freddie Burns fired a penalty through the uprights. With the game heading into the final two minutes of the half, Burns landed a second successful penalty attempt to leave the game closely-poised at 6-10 going into the break.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 6-10 Exeter Chiefs

Exeter were out of the blocks quickly in the second-half, as they continued to test the resolve of a resilient Bath defence. After 20 plus phases, Sam Simmonds provided the crucial burst, with the England international going under the posts to extend their lead with 30 minutes to play. 6-17

Bath were quick to react with a try of their own three minutes later. Burns spotted space out wide and found the on-rushing Matt Banahan with a pinpoint kick to the corner. The winger took the kick in his stride and finished out wide to put his side firmly back in the game. 11-17

The momentum started to turn in Bath’s favour, and it wasn’t long before the Blue, Black and White found their way of the try line for a second time. Taulupe Faletau was the architect of the move, as the number eight darted through the Chiefs’ defence and unselfishly offloaded to Paul Grant to finish from close range. Rhys Priestland added the conversion to give Bath a one-point advantage going into the closing 12 minutes. 18-17

Exeter weren’t leaving without a fight, and were a whisker away from their third try of the evening. The TMO was called into action again, and with no clear grounding, play was pulled back for a five metre scrum.

Two minutes later, Chiefs got the breakthrough they needed, with Bath penalised for offside at the ruck. Simmonds made no mistake and added the match-winning points.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 18-20 Exeter Chiefs

30thMARCH 2018 BATH V EXETER AT KINGSHOLM ANGLO WELSH CUP FINAL

Exeter Chiefs ended Bath Rugby’s unbeaten run in the Anglo-Welsh Cup with an 11-28 victory in the Final at Kingsholm.

Exeter were quick off the mark, with their opening try coming after just five minutes. Last year’s finalists opted for the catch and drive at the line-out five metres out, before Kai Horstmann sent Jack Innard over in the corner. Joe Simmonds added the extras. 0-7

Simmonds added two penalties, before Freddie Burns got Bath off the mark with one of his own to take the score to 3-13 with 20 minutes on the clock.

Bath got in amongst the tries five minutes later, in a move started and finished by Cooper Vuna. The winger fielded the Exeter kick in his own half, before rampaging his way through the Chiefs’ defence. Shaun Knight continued the pressure, as he powered his way into the 22. With Bath on the front foot, Burns set a superbly weighted pass out to Vuna, who finished in style in the corner. 8-13

Exeter hit back straight away, and it was Innard again who found himself over the whitewash. It was another cleverly executed move once again from the set-piece, with the hooker providing the finish following a driving maul. Simmonds made it a seven-point score, to extend Chiefs’ lead. 8-20

It got even better for the reigning Aviva Premiership Champions seven minutes before the interval, when Toby Salmon added a third try of the afternoon for the  Chiefs. After Horstmann had charged down Burns’ clearance kick, Chiefs continued to put pressure on the Bath defence. Their persistence was rewarded, as Salmon went over from close range. 8-25

Despite relentless pressure on the Chiefs’ pack in the closing stages of the half, Bath were unable to turn their territory into points.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 8-25 Exeter Chiefs

The score remained the same until Burns took Bath to within 14 points with a long range penalty, 13 minutes into the second-half. 11-25

Exeter continued to assert their dominance on proceedings, but Bath managed to prevent further scores, twice holding up the Chiefs’ maul over the line.

With just over 10 minutes to play, Simmonds was given the helping hand of the crossbar, as his penalty attempt put the score beyond doubt.

In a low-scoring second half, it was left to Chiefs to close out the game and ensure that the Anglo-Welsh trophy would be on its way back to Devon.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 11-28 Exeter Chiefs

15TH APRIL 2018 SARACENS V BATH

A clinical second-half performance from Saracens saw the two-time European Champions beat Bath Rugby 41-6 at a blustery Allianz Park.

Saracens opened the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock, following a well-worked line-out. The hosts used the rolling maul to great effect, with Schalk Brits on hand to provide the finish. Owen Farrell stepped up and added the conversion. 7-0.

Bath nearly hit back five minutes later, but Aled Brew was tackled by Williams just short of the try line after a 60-metre break up field. Saracens used the counter-attack to devastating effect, as Williams showed his quality by running the length of the field for their second score of the afternoon on 23 minutes. 12-0

The visitors got their first points on the board inside the last 15 minutes of the half, with Rhys Priestland closing the gap to nine points with a straight forward penalty. 12-3

It nearly got better for Bath, as they came within a whisker of their first try of the afternoon. Taulupe Faletau broke from a scrum inside his own half, before offloading to Brew, who gained further ground into the Saracens’ 22. The Welsh winger then offloaded to Kahn Fotuali’i, but the scrum-half was halted in his tracks by a spectacular try-saving tackle from Nick Isiekwe as the Samoan reached for the line.

The two fly-halves then traded penalties before the half-time whistle blew, with Saracens leading by nine.

Half-time: Saracens 15-6 Bath Rugby

Saracens came out strongly at the start of the second half, and scored their third try on 44 minutes. Williams was once again involved, as the fullback cleverly offloaded in the tackle to find Richard Wigglesworth, who had the easy run-in from 15 metres out. 22-6

The hosts extended their lead five minutes later when Farrell intercepted a loose pass inside his own half and showed a burst of pace to secure Saracens’ bonus-point try.  The England fly-half dusted himself off and converted the kick to make it a seven-point score. 29-6

Saracens added a further two scores in the final 10 minutes. After a good break from Michael Rhodes, the returning forward found Duncan Taylor, who edged his side closer to the whitewash. The hosts quickly worked the ball out wide, and Schalk Burger finished the move in the corner.

Mark McCall’s men rounded off an impressive performance with a sixth try finished by Ben Spencer, which secured their place in the top four of the Aviva Premiership.

Full-time: Saracens 41-6 Bath Rugby

28TH APRIL 2018 GLOUCESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby scored six tries as they secured a 20-43 bonus-point victory over Gloucester in the West County derby at Kingsholm.

Bath came flying out of the blocks, and scored their first try inside the opening two minutes. Matt Banahan found himself in acres of space on the right wing and darted infield towards the Gloucester 22, before offloading the ball to Tom Dunn, who added the finishing touch. Rhys Priestland kicked the conversion. 0-7.

The hosts looked to respond quickly, and only a combination of Tom Homer and Aled Brew stopped Lewis Ludlow from hitting back moments later.

The Blue, Black and White weathered the Gloucester pressure, and their great defensive work was rewarded with a second try of the afternoon on 14 minutes. After multiple phases, Francois Louw made a break, chomping up considerable ground towards the home side’s 22. The South African international then offloaded to Priestland and the fly-half dived under the posts.

Billy Twelvetrees got the host’s on the board soon after to close the gap to 11 points with just over 20 minutes played. 3-14

Bath’s onslaught continued as they added a breakaway try through Brew. Charlie Ewels stole the ball brilliantly before finding Brew on his own 10m line. The Welshman went through the gears and evaded the clutches of the back-tracking Jason Woodward to dive over the whitewash. Priestland added the conversion to give Bath an 18-point advantage. 3-21

The home side hit back with their first try of the afternoon 10 minutes before half-time, courtesy of Ed Slater. Woodward found space down the right wing before switching the ball to the Gloucester skipper who powered over the try line from close range. 10-21

Bath secured their bonus-point on 38 minutes when Tom Homer scored one of the tries of the season. The fullback collected the ball from his own 10m line and drove at full speed, stepping both Mark Atkinson and Billy Burns before arcing outside Woodward to finish a superb solo try in the corner. 10-26

Twelvetrees kicked another penalty for the Cherry and Whites to reduce arrears to 13 points going into the interval.

Half-time – Gloucester 13–26 Bath Rugby

Bath scored the first points of the second-half, and it was the reliable Priestland, who kicked his side into a 13-29 lead with 47 minutes on the clock.

Gloucester scored their second try of the afternoon four minutes later. Ben Morgan made an electric break into the Bath 22, before offloading to replacement Ben Vellacott. His precise pass found Woodward on the right wing and the fullback had the easy job of touching the ball down in the corner. 20-29.

Bath were quick to respond, scoring their fifth of the afternoon five minutes later. With pressure mounting in the Gloucester 22, Priestland, sent a looping pass out wide to Cooper Vuna, and the powerful winger disposed of Vellacott to score in the corner. Priestland added the extras to put Bath firmly in control. 20-36

James Wilson scored Bath’s sixth and final try on 75 minutes as the centre took advantage of a loose Gloucester pass in their 22 to make it a day to remember for the visiting supporters. Freddie Burns kicked the conversion to seal an emphatic victory at Kingsholm.

Full-time – Gloucester 20–43 Bath Rugby

5TH MAY 2018 BATH V LONDON IRISH

A hat-trick from Matt Banahan helped Bath Rugby secure Champions Cup rugby next season with an emphatic 63-19 victory over London Irish at the Rec.

Bath scored their first try of the afternoon after just three minutes through Taulupe Faletau in front of a capacity crowd. Banahan moved through the gears down the right wing before offloading the ball to Cooper Vuna, who carried the ball into the London Irish 22. The winger then found Faletau with the clever offload, and the Welsh international did the rest. Rhys Priestland made it a seven-point score with the conversion. 7-0

Bath added a second try seven minutes later, and it was Players’ Player of the Year Aled Brew who started the move. The Welshman powered his way into the 22, before the ball was recycled out wide. Vuna picked up the ball from the back of a ruck just a few metres out and exploited the open space to score his second try in as many games. 14-0.

Captain Matt Garvey was shown a yellow card on for an infringement at the breakdown shortly after, but that didn’t stop Bath from scoring another try with 22 minutes played. The Blue, Black and White used quick ball from the scrum, and Kahn Fotuali’i found Banahan with the crash ball, and the departing centre powered his way over the whitewash. 21-0.

The bonus-point try was secured with ten minutes to go in the first half. Bath went through multiple phases in the Irish half, with the ball eventually finding its way to James Wilson, who continued his impressive run of form with a try of his own. 28-0.

The home side added a fifth score on the stroke of half-time. Tom Dunn showed his ball carrying skills with a clean break through the Irish defence, which gave Bath the attacking platform in the 22. The ball was quickly fed out to Elliott Stooke, who stepped inside Josh McNally, to give Bath a commanding 35-point lead at the interval.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 35-0 London Irish

The tries kept on coming, and it took Bath just 12 minutes to extend their lead in the second half. Bath used the catch and drive to devastating effect, and Banahan finished the move for his second of the match. Replacement Freddie Burns continued Bath’s 100% record with the boot from the conversion. 42-0.

The floodgates continued to open, with a seventh try coming five minutes later. Burns chased his own chip over the top and gathered under pressure before finding Wilson with the offload. The centre dummied outside to Vuna and ran in unopposed from 40 metres out. 49-0.

London Irish kept plugging away, and were rewarded for their efforts with their opening points of the afternoon under the scorching sun at the Rec. Irish took advantage of a rare surge into the Bath 22 and worked the ball across to the blindside, with McNally finishing the move from close range. 49-5.

Banahan completed his hat-trick with just over 15 minutes to play. It was the trusted catch and drive, which paid dividends with the supporter favourite scoring in the corner to send the Rec into raptures. 56-5.

Replacement Will Vaughan extended Bath’s lead with the game going into the last 10 minutes with his first try for the Club. Wilson, Max Clark and Banahan all ate up considerable ground, with Academy prop Vaughan adding the finishing touch from close range. 63-5

London Irish added another consolation try, with a well-worked move. Greig Tonks spotted space behind the Bath defence with a chip over the top. The fullback gathered his own kick and produced a sublime offload to give Ben Loader, the easy task of crossing the whitewash. 63-12

Banahan came within a whisker of a fairytale ending, but was denied his 100th try for the Club for the double movement in the closing minutes.

London Irish ended their season with a third try of the afternoon in the last play of the game. A chip and chase was fielded by Piet Van Zyl, who in turn found McNally to score his second of the game. It was a fitting end, as David Paice marked his retirement with the conversion. 

Full-time – Bath Rugby 63-19 London Irish

 

 

 

 

 

 

This page was added on 13/01/2020.

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