2018-2019

by BRIAN JENKINS

2018

31st AUGUST 2018 BRISTOL V BATH

Bristol Bears secured an opening day victory with a 17-10 triumph over Bath Rugby in front of a capacity crowd at Ashton Gate.

The first points of the match came in the eighth minute, as the Blue, Black and White were penalised for collapsing the Bristol maul. The hosts signalled for the sticks and Ian Madigan slotted the kick to give his side an early lead. [3-0]

Bath came within a whisker of a try seven minutes later after a flowing move from Tom Homer started on the halfway line. The full-back offloaded to Sam Underhill, with Taulupe Faletau gaining further ground into the opposition 22. Following several phases, the ball was offloaded to Priestland, who put Homer across the line. However, after intervention from the TMO, he was adjudged to have lost the ball in grounding.

The Bears were next on the attack, as winger Luke Morahan made a clean break through the Bath defence with a try looking a certainty. However, the winger was halted in his tracks by the back-tracking Joe Cokanasiga, who stepped in to make a try-saving tackle.

Bristol continued to pile the pressure on the Bath defence, and were rewarded for their efforts with another three points from the boot of Madigan, which gave the home side a six-point advantage going into the half-time interval. [6-0]

Half-time – Bristol Bears 6-0 Bath Rugby

Two minutes into the second-half, Bristol added another three points through the prolific Madigan, who extended their lead. [9-0]

Bath hit back 10 minutes later following strong work from Zach Mercer, who jinked his way into the Bristol 22. The ball was fired out quickly to Priestland, who found Homer at pace, and the full-back crossed the whitewash for Bath’s first score of the evening. Priestland converted to reduce the deficit to just two points. [9-7]

Bath started to take control of proceedings, as they tested the resolve of the dogged Bristol defence. A powerful drive at the scrum led to a try scoring opportunity, which was stopped abruptly by a deliberate knock-on by Tusi Pisi. Referee JP Doyle had no option but to send the centre to the sin-bin.

The visitors took the lead for the first time in the match on the 63rd minute. Bristol were penalised on their 10 metre line and Priestland opted for the kick at goal. The kick was successful and Bath moved in front on the scoreboard for the first time in the game. [9-10]

Bristol retook the lead five minutes later, as Bath were penalised for not releasing at the breakdown. Madigan stepped up once again to give his side a two-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.

The killer blow was landed in the 72nd minute, with Morahan causing havoc in the Bath defence once again. The winger found the juggling Alapati Leiua, who managed to grasp the ball at the second time of asking to score in the corner. [17-10]

Bath continued to look for that all important score, but were unable to bypass a well-drilled Bristol defence. Attention now turns to next Saturday’s derby, with Bath Rugby hosting Gloucester Rugby back at the Rec.

Full-time – Bristol Bears 17-10 Bath Rugby

8TH SEPTEMBER 2018 BATH V GLOUCESTER

Bath Rugby fought back from 21 points down to claim a 31-31 draw against West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby at the Rec.

It was end to end action in the opening quarter, but the game remained scoreless until the 15th minute.

It was Danny Cipriani, who opened the Bath defence, as the fly-half sent a clever grubber kick through from halfway. Billy Twelvetrees collected the ball and offloaded in the tackle to Lewis Ludlow, who carried the ball into the Bath 22. Play was spread to Henry Trinder, before Matt Banahan charged through to five metre line. Following several phases, Ruan Ackerman was able to bundle his way over from close range. Cipriani added the conversion to give his side the early lead. [0-7]

The visitors doubled their lead just over 10 minutes later, with Cipriani pulling the strings once again. The England international drew the Bath defence before sending a perfectly weighted pass to Ackerman, who went through the gap to score his and Gloucester’s second try of the match. [0-14]

Gloucester increased their lead to 21 points, six minutes before the interval. It was Callum Braley, who went over under the posts after good work from Billy Twelvetrees at the breakdown. Cipriani extended Gloucester’s lead with the conversion. [0-21]

In the last action of the first half, Bath got their first points of the afternoon. The Blue, Black and White put pressure on the Gloucester line, and their patience was rewarded. The ball was recycled to the right wing and Freddie Burns sent a long pass to Rokoduguni, who finished in the corner. Burns’ touchline conversion went straight through the uprights to reduce the deficit. [7-21]

Half-time – Bath Rugby 7-21 Gloucester Rugby

The home side came out of the blocks quickly in the second-half, with Joe Cokanasiga coming within touching distance of a try. Nathan Catt released the winger out wide, but was agonisingly bundled into touch just short of the line. However, Bath managed to steal subsequent line-out, and Tom Dunn crashed over from close range. Burns’ conversion took Bath to within seven points on the scoreboard with just 42 minutes played. [14-21]

It got even better for the Blue, Black and White, as they levelled the scores with just over 15 minutes to play. An intelligent kick on halfway from Max Green, was gathered by Rokoduguni, with the winger making strides into the Gloucester 22. The forwards ground out the hard metres before Dunn crashed over for his second of the game. Replacement Rhys Priestland brought the scores level with the successful conversion attempt. [21-21]

Gloucester hit back with Jason Woodward showing his attacking intent with a 50 metre dart into the Bath 22. Moments later, Referee Luke Pearce signalled for the penalty and the reliable Twelvetrees put Gloucester three in front with just 10 minutes to play. [21-24]

The drama continued from the restart, as Rokoduguni leapt highest to put Bath back on the attack close to the Gloucester line. Bath continued to press the Cherry and White defence, and a penalty soon followed for the hosts. Priestland stepped up once again to draw the sides level once again. [24-24]

Bath struck again soon after, with the forwards setting up another scoring opportunity. Jackson Willison found space in the Gloucester 22, before sending a looping pass to Elliott Stooke to finish in the corner. Priestland gave Bath a seven-point advantage with five minutes left. [31-24]

Gloucester weren’t ready to give in without a fight and struck two minutes before the final whistle through none other than Matt Banahan. Gloucester worked their way up into the Bath’s 22, earning a penalty which Cipriani sent into the corner. The visitors kept plugging away at the Bath defence before Cipriani sent Banahan through for a try on his return to the Rec. Twelvetrees kept his composure from the tee to see the game finish all square in a thrilling derby encounter.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 31-31 Gloucester Rugby

 

 

 

 

 

15 SEPTEMBER 2018 BATH V HARLEQUINS

Two tries from Joe Cokanasiga and Zach Mercer gave Bath Rugby a 32-37 bonus-point victory against Harlequins at The Stoop.  

The first points of the game came 11 minutes in and they belonged to Bath. The ball was spread to the left wing to Jackson Willison, who nudged a kick into the Harlequins 22. Joe Cokanasiga gathered the loose ball excellently and offloaded to the supporting Jamie Roberts, who marked his return to The Stoop with a try. Freddie Burns was inches away from adding the conversion out wide, as his kick bounced off the woodwork. [0-5]

Bath were penalised for offside just three minutes later and Marcus Smith reduced the deficit to two points with a successful kick. [3-5]

Harlequins kept the pressure up and added to the scoreboard just a minute later. Former Bath man Ben Tapuai found a hole in the defensive line, with the back-tracking Burns managing to halt his former teammate just short of the line. However, the centre found the juggling Danny Care, who managed to secure the ball at the second time of asking and score their first try of the game. Smith made it a seven-point score with the conversion in front of the posts. [10-5]

Harlequins increased their advantage mid-way through the first half, with James Chisholm intercepting Burns’ pass in the midfield and the back rower sent Joe Marchant over the whitewash to extend the home side’s lead. [15-5]

Following relentless pressure in attack, Bath hit back just a few minutes later through Zach Mercer. Bath used quick ball from the breakdown, and Mercer was on hand to muscle his way over the line impressively from close range. Burns’ successful conversion reduced the deficit to just three points. [15-12]

Bath found themselves on the front foot and came within a whisker of another try, but Mercer’s pass out wide just eluded Elliott Stooke on the wing. However, referee Matthew Carley pulled play back for an earlier penalty offence, and Burns levelled proceedings 10 minutes from the break. [15-15]

Bath took the lead four minutes later, as Burns notched an opportunistic drop-goal. With Bath in attacking territory, the ball found the fly-half in the pocket, and the ball just crept over the sticks. [15-18]

Bath struck again three minutes later, and it was a moment of magic from Joe Cokanasiga. It was the rolling maul, which gave the visitors the attacking platform, with Tom Dunn taking the Blue, Black and White deep into the Harlequins 22. The ball was sent out wide to Semesa Rokoduguni, who cleverly found Cokanasiga with the offload, with the winger finishing acrobatically in the corner. Burns’ touchline conversion was successful and to go into the interval with a 10-point lead [15-25]

Half-time – Harlequins 15-25 Bath Rugby

Bath were quick out of the blocks in the second half, adding to their lead just five minutes into the second half. Jackson Willison found a gap in the hosts’ defence before offloading to captain Luke Charteris who galloped up the field to just outside the Harlequins 22. The ball then found Burns on the left flank, with the fly-half dummying the defender before releasing Cokanasiga for his second try of the game. [15-30]

Smith put his side to within 12 points on the scoreboard with a routine penalty with 54 minutes on the clock. [18-30]

Bath continued to use the rolling maul to good effect, and was a key component in the next score of the game. After rampaging up field, Mercer took the ball from the ruck and used his pace and footwork to come in from the left wing to dot down. Rhys Priestland’s conversion was successful and the hosts had a 19-point lead with 24 minutes left to play. [18-37]

With Bath down to 14 men following the sin-bin of Rokoduguni, Harlequins took advantage as Joe Marler bundled over from a metre out following several phases on the Bath line. James Lang added the extras with four minutes to play in the second half. [25-37]

Harlequins continued to press, and found their way back into the game a minute from time. The home side went through the stages patiently, before Charlie Mulchrone provided the magic touch to take them within five points with less than 20 seconds to play. [32-37]

Bath valiantly held out the closing stages to ensure the points would be heading back to the West Country. 

Full-time – Harlequins 32-37 Bath Rugby 

 

22nd SEPTEMBER 2018 BATH V NORTHAMPTON

Bath Rugby claimed their second win on the bounce with a hard-fought 17-15 victory over Northampton Saints at the Rec.

It was a pretty scrappy opening first quarter of the game, with the torrential conditions impacting on both sides. Northampton got the first points on the scoreboard through Cobus Reinach for the first try of the afternoon. Piers Francis capitalised on a loose ball in the midfield before storming into the Bath 22, with Reinach pouncing on his own kick through to open the scoring. Dan Biggar added the conversion to put Saints into the lead with 19 minutes on the clock. [0-7]

Northampton continued to press the Bath defence, as they looked to extend their advantage 10 minutes later with the attacking scrum on the 22. Reinach looked for Andrew Symons from the set-piece, but the pass was intelligently read by Burns. From then on it was a foot race, but there was only one winner, as the playmaker ran the length of the pitch to finish under the sticks. The fly-half converted his own try to bring the sides level. [7-7]

Neither side were able to take advantage of any openings in the closing 10 minutes first half, with the score deadlocked at 7-7 going into the interval.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 7-7 Northampton Saints

Burns added to his tally 15 minutes into the second half, to put Bath in front for the first time in the game. It was Semesa Rokoduguni, who setup the scoring opportunity with a chip over the Saints defence on the right wing. A solid chase from Taulupe Faletau saw Bath bundle Saints into touch before referee Karl Dickson awarded the penalty at the resulting breakdown.  Burns made no mistake from the tee, giving his side a three-point lead after 55 minutes. [10-7]

Bath extended their advantage in the 63rd minute to the delight of the 14,150 crowd packed into the Rec. It was Burns, who was at the centre of the move once again, as he opened up the space to attack out wide. Despite skewing his chip over the top, the fly-half re-gathered the ball and offloaded to the supporting Elliott Stooke. The second rower showed his passing range, launching a ball into the hands of Joe Cokanasiga, who ran in his third try in two games. [17-7]

Northampton weren’t ready to give up without a fight, as they went through multiple phases in the Bath 22. The pressure paid off, as Dan Biggar slotted three points to take his side within seven points on the scoreboard. [17-10]

The visitors continued to mount attack after attack, and 30 seconds before the final whistle, Saints found their way back in the game. Alex Mitchell darted through the Bath defence and found Tom Collins, with the winger crossing in the corner to leave Biggar with the difficult conversion from the touchline. The Bath support held their breath as the Welsh international stepped up, and fortunately his kick hit the post, which gave the Blue, Black and White their second victory on the trot.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 17-15 Northampton Saints

29th SEPTEMBER 2018 SARACENS V BATH

A clinical second half performance from Saracens gave them a 50-27 victory over Bath Rugby at Allianz Park.

The Blue, Black and White went into the lead with an early penalty, following good work from the forwards. Rhys Priestland looked to the sticks and put Bath ahead after two minutes.

Saracens scored the first try of the game through Liam Williams. Saracens worked the ball out wide to the right wing, with a clever cross-field move. Goode broke though the Bath defence before offloading to the winger. The conversion was unsuccessful and the home side had a two-point lead after 12 minutes. [5-3]

The home side scored their second try just three minutes later. A line-out just outside the Bath 22 was utilised well, the ball was spread wide and Alex Lozowski sent Alex Goode through on a clever line to score. Farrell converted to give Saracens a nine point lead. [12-3]

Bath closed the gap to six points on the 26th minute mark. Priestland slotting a monstrous penalty kick from 47 metres out. [12-6]

Saracens responded just four minutes later, following a scrum penalty against Bath led to a five-metre line-out for the hosts. The set piece was neatly worked and Saracens went over for their third try of the match. Farrell made no mistake with the touchline conversion. [19-6]

Bath responded moments later courtesy of a opportunistic effort from Chris Cook. The scrum-half rushed out from the Saracens line-out just outside the Bath 22 and intercepted. Cook showed his pace and ran the length of the pitch to score Bath’s first try of the game. Priestland converted from the touchline to narrow the gap to six points once again. [19-13]

Saracens showed patience and worked their way up the field and into the Bath 22, to open up another scoring opportunity. The hosts continued to go through the phases before the ball was distributed to Nick Tompkins who beat the defender and ran into score the bonus-point try on the 38th minute mark. Farrell extended Saracens lead from the tee. [26-13]

The half wasn’t over just yet with Bath next on the scoreboard with Tom Homer finishing a flowing attacking move. Bath turned the ball over on halfway and the ball was spread out wide and found Darren Atkins. The full-back charged up the field beating his defender, before drawing in the last man, providing a no look pass to Homer, who ran in to score in the corner. Priestland made no mistake with the touchline conversion. [26-20]

Half time – Saracens 26-20 Bath Rugby

Saracens started the second half strongly with Prop Titi Lamositele breaking out of a tackle on the right wing before unselfishly giving the ball to Williams who went in to score his second try. Farrell added the extras and the hosts led by 13 points after 41 minutes. [33-20]

Saracens continued to apply pressure after the break and Williams went in for his third try after 53 minutes, with Alex Goode the architect of the move. The full-back sidestepped his man on the Bath 22 and drawing in several defenders before cleverly offloading to the winger. Farrell failed to add the extras. [38-20]

Come the 62nd minute, Saracens found themselves in a good attacking position once again, but this time it was Bath who struck. Tom Homer read Farrell’s pass as he tried to distribute wide and the winger outran the Saracens defence to score his second in spectacular fashion. Burns made no mistake with the extras, slotting the touchline conversion. [38-27]

Saracens landed the killer blow four minutes later. The home side found themselves camped inside the Bath 22, before the ball was distributed out wide to the influential Goode. The full-back found Sean Maitland on the left wing, with the Scottish international beating the defender to score. [43-27]

The final try of the match came in the 78th minute. Following a scrum penalty, the hosts found themselves with a line-out five metres out. A powerful rolling maul from the home side sent Christopher Tolofua over the whitewash to complete the victory for the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions. [50-27]

Full-time – Saracens 50-27 Bath Rugby

5th OCTOBER 2018 BATH V EXETER

Exeter Chiefs showed their clinical edge in the second-half, as they secured a 24-39 victory against Bath Rugby at the Rec.

It was a tactical first quarter with both teams exchanging kicks looking to gain the early momentum under the Friday night lights. The first points came after 11 minutes, with Freddie Burns slotting a long-range penalty from the Exeter 10m line. [3-0]

Bath extended their early lead on the 23rd minute mark, with Rhys Priestland crossing for the opening try of the game. Tom Ellis instigated the move, making a clever break down the right wing, before spotting the rampaging Semesa Rokoduguni who kicked into space behind the Chiefs’ defence. Priestland collected the resulting ball in space and ran in to score. Burns converted to give the Blue, Black and White a 10-point lead. [10-0]

The visitors closed the gap moments later with Gareth Steenson successful with his first penalty attempt of the evening. [10-3]

Chiefs levelled the scores two minutes later with an opportunistic try from Stu Townsend. As Bath looked to break out wide in the midfield, Burns’ pass was intercepted and the scrum-half just managed to evade the retreating full-back to score. Steenson added the extras to make it a seven-point score. [10-10]

Burns put Bath back into the lead on the 33rd minute, following great work from Tom Dunn. The hooker bulldozed his way into the Exeter 22, and his side subsequently were awarded a penalty from referee Christophe Ridley. Burns made no mistake, sending the ball straight through the uprights. [13-10]

The Chiefs secured the last points of the half, with their second try of the half, four minutes from the interval. Exeter broke through into the Bath half and it was Steenson at the centre of things once again, as the fly-half sent a deft kick into space into the corner. Don Armand was the grateful recipient, as the back rower collected to score. Steenson was unable to convert, but the visitors went into the break with a two-point advantage.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 13-15 Exeter

Bath got the first points on the board four minutes into the second half, with Burns adding three to his tally following an Exeter offside. The lead didn’t last for long, as the visitors kicked their way back in front from the boot of Steenson two minutes later. [16-18]

Bath were reduced to 14 men eight minutes into the second-half, with Rokoduguni shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, as Chiefs looked to break from halfway.

Despite being a man down, Bath fought their way valiantly up the field and added a further three points, with Burns slotting a superb kick from out wide. [19-18]

The visitors then began to assert their dominance on proceedings, as they put pressure on the Bath 22. Chiefs made the rolling maul work to their advantage, as the men in white crashed over the line. The referee called for the intervention of the TMO, who could see no reason not to award the try, which was given to Dave Ewers. [19-25]

Chiefs made it two scores in five minutes, as they showed their cutting edge in attack. A good initial break from Sam Skinner set the move alight, before Jack Nowell put Ian Whitten through in the corner. [19-32]

Exeter crossed for their fourth try of the game with 10 minutes left on the clock, with a breakaway move from their 22. Henry Slade charged down the left flank and looked as though he was going to be in to score, but for a superb tackle from Darren Atkins to halt the centre in his tracks. However, the visitors recycled the ball quickly to the opposite wing, with Nowell dotting down. [19-39]

A clever set piece move from Bath six minutes from time gave the Blue, Black and White a consolation try. Cook linked up with Burns from the scrum, before the duo combined once again, with the scrum-half going through the gap to finish. [24-39]

Bath kept plugging away for a bonus-point try, and Joe Cokanasiga came within touching distance of doing just that. A well-worked move saw the winger make light work of the Exeter defence, but a Chiefs hand stopped the in-form flyer from adding to his recent scoring record.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 24-39 Exeter Chiefs

13th OCTOBER 2018 BATH V TOULOUSE

Toulouse secured a narrow 20-22 victory over Bath Rugby, as the Blue, Black and White opened up their Heineken Champions Cup campaign at the Rec.

After capitalising on the kick-off, it was Bath who found themselves in front after two minutes. The home side went through a number of phases inside the Toulouse half and were rewarded for their patience with a penalty out wide. Freddie Burns pointed to the sticks and slotted the first points of the game. [3-0]

The French side were next to strike with the first try of the afternoon at the Rec. After turning the ball over inside the Bath half, Sofiane Guitoune provided the crucial break, which took his side deep into the 22. Toulouse made some hard yards to take them within touching distance of the try line before Maxime Medard provided the finishing touch on the short side. Thomas Ramos added the extras, giving the visitors a four-point lead after nine minutes. [3-7]

Bath regained the lead 15 minutes before the interval. A charging run from Dave Attwood gave his side the momentum in the 22, before Francois Louw carried strongly to put his side 10 metres from the line. Quick ball from Chris Cook put Jamie Roberts through the gap, and the centre used all his experience to break the tackle and spin his way over the line. Burns’ conversion gave Bath a three-point lead. [10-7]

The Blue, Black and White added a further score to extend their lead five minutes later. A superb offload from Tom Dunn on halfway sent Rhys Priestland through to the Toulouse 10 metre line. Jackson Willison was next to test the opposition defence, as he broke through and offloaded to Henry Thomas, who was stopped just short of the line. Bath used the numbers wide, and Burns was able to wriggle his way over the whitewash before adding the extra two points. [17-7]

Toulouse hit back and it was South African international Cheslin Kolbe, who was the architect of their next score. The winger showed his acceleration down the right wing before sidestepping two defenders as he came in field. The winger then offloaded to Guitoune outside him, who provided the simple finish. [17-12]

A minute before the break, Jerome Kaino was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Jamie Roberts, but Burns was unable to take advantage from the resulting kick, as his attempt drifted wide of the posts. [17-12]

Half-time – Bath Rugby 17-12 Toulouse

Bath extended their lead seven minutes into the second half, with Burns notching an impressive penalty from distance out towards the touchline. [20-12]

Bath were next to lose a man, with Tom Ellis sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle. Toulouse took advantage, as Ramos put his side within five points from the resulting penalty. [20-15]

Toulouse made use of their man advantage, as they took the lead eight minutes later. The visitors pressured their way up the field, and a penalty put the four-time champions five metres from the line. Toulouse were unable to get over the line from close range, and as a result spread the ball out wide with Guitoune on hand to score his second try. The successful conversion attempt gave the visitors a narrow two-point lead going into the last 16 minutes. [20-22]

It looked like Bath snatched it at the death, with Burns crossing five minutes from time. The full-back found his way behind the Toulouse defence, but as he looked touch the ball down, the ball was dislodged from his grasp. [20-22]

Toulouse held strong in the closing few minutes to give the visitors a winning start to their European campaign.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 20-22 Toulouse

20th OCTOBER 2018 WASPS V BATH

There was nothing to split Bath Rugby and Wasps, as the two sides fought out a 35-35 draw at the Ricoh Arena in the second round of the Heineken Champions Cup.

Bath scored the first try of the game after just three minutes, with Joe Cokanasiga finishing off a flowing counter attacking move. Following good work from Tom Ellis to turn the ball over on halfway, Bath quickly moved through the gears. The ball was shipped out to Max Wright, and the centre cleverly drew the defender before offloading to Joe Cokanasiga outside him. The winger showed his pace and power as he rampaged his way into the 22, before cutting inside to find Will Chudley. The scrum-half switched with Cokanasiga, and the 20 year-old made light work of the Wasps defence to score his fourth try in six games for his new club. Freddie Burns made no mistake in slotting the extras. [0-7]

Wasps responded with a try of their own 14 minutes later to level up the scores. The home side found themselves with an attacking scrum on the Bath 22 and took advantage of the numbers out wide from the set piece. Joe Simpson went down the blind side and found Josh Bassett, who dotted down in the corner. Lima Sopoaga made it a seven-point score with the conversion. [7-7]

Bath were quick to regain control on the scoreboard, as they added their second try of the afternoon three minutes later. Chudley popped to Max Wright in the midfield, and the centre cut through the Wasps defence before offloading to the supporting Jack Walker. The hooker did well to draw the defenders before releasing the ball back out to the instigator of the move, Wright, who provided the finish. Burns made it two from two from the boot to extend Bath’s lead. [7-14]

Bath added a further score 11 minutes before the break. As Wasps looked to build on a attack close to the 22, Semesa Rokoduguni stepped into the line to intercept a pass from Willie Le Roux. The winger had pace to burn, as he ran in from 70m to add a third try for the Blue, Black and White. Burns continued his perfect afternoon from the tee with a successful conversion. [7-21]

With eight minutes to play in the half, Bath were reduced to 14 men with Francois Louw shown a yellow card for a tip tackle. Despite constant pressure from Wasps in the closing stages of the half, the Bath defence held firm to go into the interval in the lead.

Half-time – Wasps 7-21 Bath Rugby 

It was an explosive start to the second half for Wasps, with Joe Simpson touching down two minutes after the break. Several quick carries from the Wasps pack, took play into the 22 before the backs came into play. A looping pass from Elliot Daly found Josh Bassett out wide on the right flank, and the winger took his side within touching distance of the try line. The ball was quickly recycled to Zurabi Zhvania, who cleverly popped the ball to Simpson, who dived over to score. [14-21]

Wasps continued to grow in confidence and levelled the scores just five minutes later. Bassett once again showed his trickery beating a few defenders to put his side within touching distance of the line once again. After a few phases Zhvania delivered the killer blow, as the prop bundled over from close range. Sopoaga ensured their was nothing to separate the two sides on the scoreboard with the kick. [21-21]

Wasps took the lead for the first time on the 50th minute mark. The hosts showed their attacking intent on halfway, as good hands from the backline secured front foot ball in the Bath 22. Simpson then found the charging Ashley Johnson, who showed his strength to power through the tackles and cross the whitewash. [28-21]

Bath needed a response to the relentless Wasps attack, and it came five minutes later. Walker turned provider once again with a clever offload just outside the 22, which saw Ewels go unopposed through the Wasps defensive line to put Bath back on level terms. [28-28]

The tries kept on coming, with Bath getting on the act once again with the ninth try of the game came with less than 15 minutes to play. After Burns slotted a penalty to the corner, Bath used the catch and drive to devastating effect. After bringing down the maul, Bath capitalised on the penalty advantage with Francois Louw using his experience to put Bath back in front. Burns added the straight forward conversion. [28-35]

The back and forth continued, as Wasps replied with a try of their own. After fielding a Bath clearance on halfway Elliot Daly made a telling break through the line and released Simpson who accelerated deep into the Bath 22. The scrum-half spotted Thomas Young outside him and sent the flanker in for the score. Sopoaga conversion brought the scores level with just 10 minutes left to play. [35-35]

Alex Davies had a late opportunity to snatch the win with a difficult kick out wide, but his effort drifted agonisingly wide of the posts.

Full-time – Wasps 35-35 Bath Rugby

3rd NOVEMBER 2018 EXETER V BATH

Exeter Chiefs secured victory in the second round of the Premiership Rugby Cup at Sandy Park, despite a late comeback from Bath Rugby.

Bath were first to apply points to the scoresheet. Following a clever break from the Blue, Black and White and some fantastic offloading, play was brought to just 5m out. Alex Davies attempted to dink a kick through to Chiefs defence but it came to nothing. Play came back for the penalty advantage, Davies looked to the sticks and gave Bath an early three point lead. [0-3]

The Chiefs asserted their scrum dominance early on, and it proved pivotal to their first score. The hosts found themselves camped down in the Bath red zone with a scrum advantage. Exeter bided their time and picked up a penalty advantage from the scrum, and they made use of the opportunity. The ball was distributed out to Harvey Skinner who threw a clinical pass wide to James Short who powered over in the corner after 15 minutes. Joe Simmonds failed to add the extras. [5-3]

The home side got over again on the 32 minute mark. Jack Maunder made the initial break, bringing play to just five metres out. Tom Lawday received the ball from the breakdown and did well to draw in the defenders before sending Ollie Devoto through on a neat line to score the hosts second try of the game. Simmonds made no mistake this time with the conversion. [12-3]

Bath responded with 38 minutes on the clock, fly-half Alex Davies put his side into the corner, following a breakdown penalty. Bath’s rolling maul set up well and the pack surged forwards. The maul was brought down illegally and the Blue,Black and White went again. The maul remained dominant, this time Ross batty was able to bundle his way over for his third try in two games. [12-8]

HALF TIME | EXETER CHIEFS 12 – 8 BATH RUGBY

Exeter started the second half well, with a scrum 30 metres out. Bath were penalised at the set piece and Simmonds had an opportunity to go for three, the full-back pointed to the sticks and slotted the kick increasing the home sides lead to seven points after 47 minutes. [15-8]

Exeter extended their lead five minutes later. A smart set piece move from the scrum saw the ball sent out to Devoto, who was able to find Tom O’Flaherty outside him on the right wing. The winger crashed over for the Chiefs third try of the game. The wind worked it’s magic with the conversion and Simmonds’ kick somehow sailed through the uprights. [22-8]

Bath needed a response and it came just three minutes later. Jamie Roberts instigated the move, crashing through the Chiefs defence before finding Josh Bayliss in support. Play was brought up to just five metres out. The ball was spread wide by Atkins to Jack Wilson, who touched down in the corner with an exceptional finish narrowing the gap to nine points. [22-13]

Bath struck again, five minutes from time, after a huge amount of pressure from the visitors. The Blue, Black and White made use of an attacking scrum just five metres out. Fotuali’i sent the ball out to Atkins, looping around the full-back before receiving the ball again. Fotuali’i on his 50th appearance sent Wilson clear on the left flank with an incredible pass, the winger ran in to score his second try of the game. Atkins attempted a quick drop goal which sailed wide. [22-18]

The killer blow came from the restart with Exeter regathering the ball and picking up a penalty from directly in front of the sticks. Harvey Skinner landed the three points with just three minutes to go. [25-18]

FULL TIME | EXETER CHIEFS 25-18 BATH RUGBY

9th NOVEMBER 2018 NEWCASTLE V BATH

Newcastle Falcons claimed a 22-7 victory over Bath Rugby in the Premiership Rugby Cup in testing conditions at Kingston Park.

The swirling wind and torrential rain caused havoc throughout the 80 minutes, but it was Falcons who came out on top under the Friday night lights.

The hosts showed their attacking intent inside the opening 15 minutes, and only try-saving tackles by Levi Douglas and Ruaridh McConnochie prevented them from opening their account with two quick fire tries.

Despite withstanding the early pressure, the first points went the way of Falcons on the 20-minute mark. Falcons took advantage of the numbers on the short side in the midfield, with Alex Tait drawing his man and releasing Michael Young to give the scrum-half a simple finish under the posts. Joel Hodgson added the extras to give his side a seven-point advantage. [7-0]

Bath continued to show a good account of themselves against a vastly experienced Falcons side, with McConnochie and Tom Homer both making good breaks into the Falcons half. However, they were unable to force their way through a dogged home defence.

With just over 10 minutes of the half remaining, Hodgson added another three points from the tee after Bath were penalised for offside just outside their 22. [10-0]

Falcons continued to show their threat in attack and looked to mount another attack with the clock in the red. However, good rush defence from Michael van Vuuren forced the Falcons error to ensure the gap remained 10 points going into the interval.

Half-time – Newcastle Falcons 10-0 Bath Rugby

The hosts extended their lead four minutes into the second half through Simon Hammersley. Pedro Bettencourt made the initial break but was tackled short by Tom Homer, who momentarily halted their quest for the line. The phases continued to mount, before a clever switch sent Hammersley over the whitewash for their second of the evening. [17-0]

With 15 minutes to play, the home side put the score beyond doubt. After Bath were penalised for holding on, Toby Flood sent the ball deep inside the 22 to create another scoring opportunity. It was Sinoti Sinoti who took full advantage, as the winger fended off two Bath tacklers to score in the corner. [22-0]

Bath didn’t leave Kingston Park empty handed, with Josh Bayliss grabbing a consolation try four minutes from time. The back rower capitalised on a loose ball in the midfield and had the pace, vision and awareness to run in from halfway. Alex Davies added the straight forward conversion from in front of the posts. [22-7]

The Blue, Black and White continued to put pressure on the Falcons defence, and Levi Davis nearly added a second score, but was just stopped in his tracks just short of the line.

Full-time – Newcastle Falcons 22-7 Bath Rugby

17th NOVEMBER 2018 BATH V WORCESTER

Bath Rugby secured an impressive 28-13 victory against an in-form Worcester Warriors at the Rec this afternoon.

Following a scrappy opening five minutes, it was Worcester who took the early lead through the boot of Duncan Weir after Bath were penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck. [0-0]

Bath responded immediately, as Freddie Burns levelled up the scores with a routine penalty after the Blue, Black and White were held up over the line. [3-3]

With the possession and territory firmly in Bath’s favour, their patience was rewarded with the opening try of the game on the 22 minute mark. After a number of pick and goes, the backs were released into action, as Burns found Semesa Rokoduguni, who evaded the tackles to power over from close range.  Burns added the conversion. [10-3]

The lead didn’t last long, as Worcester hit back with a try of their own three minutes later. Quick ball from a scrum on halfway saw Chris Pennell make inroads into the Bath half, before his clever offload found Francois Venter. The South African centre then found his midfield partner Ryan Mills, who had the easy run in. Weir’s conversion put the match all square with 15 minutes to play in the first half. [10-10]

Bath continued to test the resolve of the Worcester defence and got back in front on the scoreboard once again through Burns, who maintained his 100% record from the tee. It was the fly-half who had the last say in the half, as he capitalised on a Worcester infringement at the scrum to add a further three point four minutes before the interval.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 16-10 Worcester Warriors

The second half started how the first half ended, as Bath extended their lead four minutes in. Camped in their own 22 following a wave of Bath’s attacks, Francois Hougaard looked to clear his lines. However, Matt Garvey charged down the South African’s kick and his back row partner Tom Ellis was on hand to pounce on the ball to score. Burns continued his perfect record with another two points. [23-10]

With just over 25 minutes to play, Weir reduced arrears to 10 points with another successful kick at goal. [23-13]

Bath’s dominance up front continued to cause problems, but the Blue, Black and White found themselves up against a resilient defensive line. However, with the clocking heading towards the red, Elliott Stooke capped a Man of the Match performance with the final try of the afternoon. Good work from Kahn Fotuali’i, Burns and Ruaridh McConnochie in the build-up gave Bath an attacking platform in the Worcester 22. The move was rewarded when Stooke dived over on the right flank to complete an impressive performance at the Rec.

Next up for Bath will be a trip to Kingston Park on Friday, before Sale head to the West Country on Sunday 2nd December.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 28-13 Worcester Warriors 

24th NOVEMBER 2018 NEWCASTLE V BATH

Newcastle Falcons secured a 16-8 victory over Bath under Friday night lights at Kingston Park. “It’s not an easy place to come and win but we made it tough for ourselves. We are bitterly disappointed tonight.” Bath Rugby’s Todd Blackadder commented after the game.

It was just five minutes in as Falcons’ winger Sinoti Sinoti charged down the right-hand flank bringing play inside the Bath 22. Bath looked to turn the ball over, however referee Christophe Ridley adjudged that Bath had infringed at the breakdown. Fly-half Toby Flood pointed to the uprights and put the first points of the game on the board. [3-0]

The next score didn’t come until the 26th minute, both sides had attacking opportunities but neither side were able to capitalise with a score. With Freddie Burns and Tom Homer, two of Bath’s key playmakers being forced off after 11 minutes Bath had to adapt, and they did.

Captain Matt Garvey created the opportunity for the visitors with an incredible turn over. Bath countered, keeping the ball alive well. Will Chudley spread the ball out with precision to Cooper Vuna, who found Darren Atkins outside him. Atkins then delivered a brilliant offload to Ruaridh McConnochie who ran his way down the wing to score in the left-hand corner. The conversion was unsuccessful as Bath took a two-point lead. [3-5]

Falcons crossed the line with just two minutes until half-time. The hosts executed a set piece move brilliantly, after finding themselves with a line-out 22 metres out. The ball was taken well from the line-out and Sam Stuart sent the ball out to Johnny Williams on a brilliant attacking line, the centre cut through the Bath defence and crossed the whitewash between the sticks. Flood kicked the conversion and Newcastle took a five point lead going into half-time. [10-5].

Half-time – Newcastle Falcons 10-5 Bath Rugby

Bath came out in the second half with intent and just six minutes in Bath narrowed the gap. The men in Blue and white were camped down on the Newcastle line, just metres out, patiently running through the phases retaining the ball excellently. Eventually Falcons were penalised at the breakdown and Atkins was able reduced the deficit to just two points. [10-8]

Ten minutes passed, and some poor discipline from Bath saw Newcastle make their way up field. Another penalty went to Newcastle on halfway and Flood took it quickly. Josh Bayliss made a thundering hit, but it was adjudged that Floods legs were taken above horizontal and Bayliss was shown a yellow card. Flood looked to the posts once again and extended the Falcons league to five points. [13-8]

The game became scrappy in the final quarter, with neither team retaining possession long enough to trouble the opposition defence. On occasions McConnochie and Rokoduguni looked dangerous on the counter attack but it was quickly shut down by the Falcons defence.

As time was running out Bath attacked from deep, however they were penalised at the breakdown in the 70th minute. Flood seized the opportunity and secured another three points for his team, leaving Bath with a lot of work to do. [16-8]

Bath’s final attack was relentless, starting from their own try line, they were able to make inroads to the Falcons defence, however the attack ultimately came to nothing. [16-8]

“If you want to win away from home, you’ve got to step up and when you don’t you come second.” The final words of the evening came from Blackadder who shared the frustrations of supporters, players and coaches alike.

Full-time – Newcastle Falcons 16-8 Bath Rugby

 

2nd DECEMBER 2018 BATH V SALE

Joe Cokanasiga scored a late try to give Bath Rugby a share of the points with a 7-7 draw against Sale Sharks at the Rec.

Bath dominated the early stages, camping down in the Sale 22. Six minutes in, the Blue, Black and White were given the first scoring opportunity, but Freddie Burns’ long range effort sailed just wide of the uprights from 46 metres out.

Although the early territory belonged to hosts, it was Sale who had the next opportunity to put points on the scoreboard. However, Rob du Preez was unable to add the three points with the scores remaining level with 17 minutes played.

Bath continued to dominate possession, but faced a resolute Sharks defence, who stood firm under pressure.

Just a minute from the interval Sale looked like they’d found their way over the whitewash in impressive fashion.  The visitors spread the ball out wide to Rob du Preez who spotted Denny Solomona in space on the right wing. The South African fly-half floated a kick into the corner and Solomona was able to gather and cross the line. However, a fantastic covering tackle from Joe Cokanasiga dislodged the ball from Solomona’s grasp to ensure the game remained scoreless going into the interval.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 0-0 Sale Sharks

The first points went to Sale, as Jean-luc du Preez scored the opening try of the afternoon. Following a succession of phases in the Bath 22, du Preez crashed over from close range, with his brother Rob adding the extras. [0-7]

Bath needed a response and the spark came from replacement Cooper Vuna. James Wilson cleverly found Vuna out wide just over halfway, and the centre darted his way past two Sale defenders to put Bath inside the 22. A clever grubber from Vuna saw Cokanasiga pounce to put his side within two points on the scoreboard.  Fresh off the bench, Wilson kept his composure to put the game all square. [7-7]

Neither side was able to take advantage in the closing moments, but Bath will take consolation from the two points which will move them up to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 7-7 Sale Sharks

8th DECEMBER 2018 BATH V LEINSTER

Bath Rugby claimed a losing bonus-point in a narrow 10-17 defeat against reigning European Champions Leinster at the Rec.

Bath came out all cylinders firing, but it was Leinster with the first opportunity of the game with a penalty 10 minutes in. However, Johnny Sexton’s effort hit the post and Bath were able to clear their lines. [0-0] 

Following a frenetic start to the game, it was Bath who took the lead following excellent pressure on the Leinster scrum. It was Will Chudley, who used all his experience to make the tackle on Dan Leavy, as the number eight looked to break from the set piece inside his 22. The momentum forced the turnover, which was followed by a series of pick and goes, which took Bath within touching distance of the try line. It was Henry Thomas who provided the killer blow, as the prop forced his way over. James Wilson added the extras to give Bath the advantage on the scoreboard. [7-0]

The reigning champions hit back eight minutes later with a well-worked driving maul. After Sexton had put a penalty to touch, Leinster used the catch and drive to good effect from the line-out. Sean Cronin was the man to profit, as the Ireland hooker scored his side’s opening try of the afternoon. Sexton made no mistake with his second effort from the tee, as the fly-half drew his side level. [7-7]

Leinster looked to add to their tally in the closing stages of the first half, but Bath remained resolute in defence and ensured the scores remained even going into the interval.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 7-7 Leinster Rugby 

Leinster took the lead for the first time, nine minutes into the second half.  Chudley did well to win the ball from a back of a loose Leinster line-out on half-way and looked to spread the ball wide. However, a long pass from James Wilson was well read by Jordan Larmour, and the winger stepped into the line and ran in from the Bath 10 metre line. Sexton extended the visitors lead to seven with a successful conversion. [7-14]

The game continued to go from end to end, with both teams fighting for territory, but no scoring opportunities arose until the 72nd minute.

Bath continued to look for the crucial score as the tested the Leinster defence. Despite being tested in their own 22, Leinster forced the turnover with James Lowe kicking into space behind the Bath defence. The winger chased down his own kick and Bath were penalised for holding on at the breakdown. Sexton pointed to the posts and slotted three to put his side 10 points in front. [7-17]

Bath continued to fight right until the death, and a Wilson penalty in the red ensured that Bath ended the game with a losing bonus-point.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 10-17 Leinster Rugby 

 

15th DECEMBER 2018 LEINSTER V BATH

Leinster showed their undoubted European pedigree with a 42-15 victory against Bath Rugby at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.  Bath started the game strongly, taking the lead after just a minute. Good work at the breakdown from Francois Louw, forced a penalty giving James Wilson the opportunity to put the first points on the scoreboard. The fly-half made no mistake, as his kick sailed through the uprights. [0-3]

Five minutes later Leinster got themselves on the scoreboard with the first try of the game. A cross-field kick from Johnny Sexton was taken well by James Lowe who took play up to the Bath 22. A couple of phases later the ball was spread out wide to Jack Conan who managed to fight off a few defenders, with his momentum carrying himself across the try line. Sexton converted from out wide to make it a seven-point score. [7-3]

A second try quickly followed for the reigning European Champions, as they extended their advantage with 12 minutes on the clock. A clever set piece move from Leinster on halfway gave Sexton the opportunity to draw his man and offload to Jordan Larmour outside him. The full-back charged up the field and found Rory O’Loughlin in support on his shoulder, with the centre running in to score. [14-3]

Bath responded well, with a try of their own eight minutes later. Will Chudley shipped the ball out to Wilson on the Leinster 22, who threw a dummy and then sent Jacques van Rooyen through the gap. The South African was stopped just short, but his compatriot Francois Louw was on hand to provide the finish from close range. Wilson converted to reduce the deficit to just four points. [14-10]

15 minutes before the interval Leinster took their lead back up to 11 points with some quick thinking from James Lowe. After Bath had conceded a penalty five metres out, Lowe caught the Bath defence off-guard by taking a quick tap and dived over the line. Sexton added the extras to maintain his 100% record from the tee. [21-10]

Two minutes from the break, Leinster put a bit of daylight on the scoreboard. With penalty advantage looming following a collapsed maul, Sexton showed just why he was crowned World Rugby Player of the Year. The Irish international sent a pinpoint kick out wide, which found the grateful hands of Adam Byrne, who scored Leinster’s bonus-point try. [28-10]

Half-time – Leinster Rugby 28-10 Bath Rugby 

Leinster added to their lead five minutes into the second half following sustained pressure in the Bath 22. The Irish giants went through the phases patiently, before Dan Leavy powered over from close range under the sticks. [35-10]

Bath  scored their second try of the match seven minutes later. A penalty from Wilson, took his side from halfway to five metres out from the Leinster line. Following the rolling maul, the forwards continued to put pressure on the try line. The momentum was rewarded with a score, as Sam Underhill crossed the whitewash with support from Tom Ellis and Charlie Ewels. Wilson’s kick drifted wide of the left upright. [35-15]

Leinster rounded off an impressive performance with their sixth try of the game, 13 minutes from time. The men in blue took advantage of a loose ball in the midfield and charged forward into the Bath half. The ball was recycled to Lowe, who drew in two defenders before sending James Gibson-Park in to score. [42-15]

Full-time – Leinster Rugby 42-15 Bath Rugby

 23rd DECEMBER 2018 WASPS V BATH

A try from Will Chudley and 19 points from Freddie Burns gave Bath Rugby a hard-fought 14-24 victory against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

The game started in tough conditions with both sides feeling each other out in the opening stages. An early clearance kick from Will Chudley from the first kick of the game gave Wasps possession and after going through the phases Wasps were able to build some early pressure. Bath conceded a penalty at the breakdown 11 phases into their defence and Billy Searle made sure of the early three point lead.

Bath restarted the game with a kick to the right corner of the Wasps half. They cleared their line with a kick into the Bath half. Semesa Rokodoguni made a huge line break giving Bath some possession at the opposition’s end of the field. The ball moved through two phases, however Bath failed to retain possession and conceded a penalty on the Wasps try line.

A tense and inaccurate start to the game continued when Bath lost their own line-out on half-way a few minutes later, resulting in Wasps taking possession into the Bath 22m area. Wasps came close to a score as their attack began to threaten and after a Billy Searle pass beat the aggressive but narrow Bath defence. It was only a last ditch tackle from Bath that denied the score as Wasps surged down the right edge through Ross Neal.

The referee took play back for an earlier Bath infringement, and Wasps attacked through a 5m line-out from the penally. Bath denied them the chance to build pressure and cleared their lines but after spending the majority of the first 10 minutes under pressure and without the ball Bath needed to find a way to establish themselves in the game.

Bath responded moments later after Wasps were penalised at the breakdown. Freddie Burns stepped up and levelled the scores from 40 metres out. [3-3]

Just two minutes after Burns had drawn the game all square, Wasps found themselves back in front with another penalty from Searle. Bath had to wait until the 22 minute mark for their next opportunity and it was Burns again, who provided the three points after Michael Le Bourgeois was penalised for not rolling away. [6-6]

The first try of the game was delivered by the visitors and it was Burns, who added to his tally with a superb solo effort. Dave Attwood cleverly drew his man as Bath switched play to the left wing before Burns stepped into the gap. It was a fabulous example of the show and go, as he sped through from the Wasps 10m line to score. The fly-half picked himself up to take the conversion, but his kick drifted just right of the upright. [6-11]

The Bath pack were beginning to establish some dominance in the scrum and another penalty was won on the 30 minute mark against the Wasps loosehead Ben Harris. Bath once again entered the Wasps half with a line-out to attack from. Bath established the drive but failed to control possession at the back of the maul to give Wasps another brief reprieve. Wasps needed to gain some control and possession from their scrum but another penalty for Bath gave the men in blue black and white a further chance to build their attack.

The resulting line-out from the Bath penalty unfortunately let them down giving Wasps a chance relieve pressure again and they sent the ball long, James Wilson received the ball and sent it out into touch for a Wasps lineout.

In the 35th minute Wasps were reduced to 14 men. Semesa Rokoduguni intercepted a pass deep inside Bath’s half and after an impressive run, the winger was taken out high from Nizaam Carr.

With the game still in the balance the breakdown penalties continued to come from Wasps, this time with a Thomas Young clearout beyond the breakdown giving Bath another platform. Burns took another shot at the posts from 43m out and sent it straight through the middle with a perfect strike from the right boot with just two minutes left until the half time whistle. [6-14]

With the clock in the red, it was Wasps who had the last say of the half, as Searle kicked his third penalty of the afternoon.

Half-time – Wasps 9-14 Bath Rugby 

Bath got the first points of the second half, which came after strong work from the pack. Against the head, Bath forced the penalty and Burns stepped up once again to keep the scoreboard ticking over. [9-17]

With Carr returning to the field just after Burns’ penalty attempt, the next score was crucial. It was Bath, who got the next points following some patient work into the Wasps 22. The Blue, Black and White held the ball well racking up over 15 phases on their quest for the line. The forwards showed their dominance to get within touching distance, before captain Will Chudley provided the finish. The scrum-half used all his experience to ground the ball at the base of the post. The call went to the TMO, but after a pensive few moments, the try was given. Burns converted to give Bath a 15-point lead with 25 minutes to play. [9-24]

Wasps produced a fantastic response with a try of their own just two minutes later. The pack used the catch and drive to good effect, before Thomas Young peeled off from the back to dive over in the corner. Searle was unable to add the extras leaving his side ten points adrift. [14-24]

It looked like Bath had scored their third try of the afternoon when Nathan Catt rumbled over from close range with 63 minutes played at the Ricoh Arena. Max Wright and Rokoduguni both made strong breaks before Catt went over the whitewash. However, after consultation with the TMO, the front rower’s effort was ruled out for a double movement.

The home side buoyed by a 30,000 plus crowd, drew on the experience of Nathan Hughes and Dan Robson off the bench and their impact was noticeable.

The Wasps scrum was looking a lot stronger with replacement front row on the field and Henry Thomas conceded a penalty around the half way line. Wasps opted for the corner and look to their line-out to again build their score. Bath repelled the drive and showed some strong defence until Wasps found an offload on the right edge. The ball then moved to the left and more pressure continued to come through the speed of ball and ball movement that Wasps were displaying. Wasps won another penalty just 10 metres out from the Bath line and were clearly now getting on top. Bath responded by bringing on Max Lahiff, Jacques van Rooyen and Matt Garvey into the forwards.

The Wasps drive was again repelled and three phases later Lahiff made a big hit to force a Wasps error. Burns reacted with a quick clearance kick which found the Bath 22m line and gave Bath a brief chance to regroup. The gap remained at 10 points going into the final 10 minutes.

A long stoppage came as Brookes received treatment and this seemed to re-energise the Bath side and they never looked back as they looked to pressure Wasps and close out the win. A period of pressure from Bath gave them a scrum in the opposition 22m area, but with just six minutes on the match clock Wasps won a scrum penalty against the head and looked to move the play up field with a kick to touch.

With their line-out now functioning Wasps began to move the ball and increase the speed of their attack. Bath held firm and continued to present a wall of defence in front of the Wasps men. A sloppy pass from Dan Robson gave Bath a scrum and they moved the ball down field through kicks from Chudley and Burns. Wasps nearly broke from a counter attack down the left touchline, but time was now running out for Wasps to claw back the ten-point deficit.

Bath regained possession and looked determined to run down the clock and secure the much needed win. The forwards worked through the phases with a number of pick and go’s to set the platform for Burns to send it into the stands and draw the referees whistle.

Full-time – Wasps 14-24 Bath Rugby

30th DECEMBER 2018 BATH V LEICESTER

Bath Rugby rounded off 2018 with a deserved 23-16 victory over Leicester Tigers in front of a capacity crowd at the Rec.

The game started in perfect conditions at the Rec with both sides trying to unnerve each other, yet it only took two minutes for the first points to be scored. It was George Ford returning to his former club, who opened up the Bath defence with a clever kick on the edge of the Bath 22. After building pressure, the fly-half sent a grubber kick through, which was collected by Jonny May, who found his way over the whitewash. Ford added the extras from straight in front of the posts. [0-7]

Just four minutes later, Bath found themselves on the Leicester line. After multiple phases in the 22, it looked like the Blue, Black and White had crossed for their first of the afternoon. Following consultation with the TMO, the score was ruled out as Bath were held up agonisingly short.

With 18 minutes gone on the clock, Bath were cruelly denied once again. This time some brilliant play from Ruaridh McConnochie and Will Chudley put Bath within touching distance of the line. Francois Louw looked like he’d provided the killer blow, but his effort was ruled out by Doyle for what was adjudged to have been jumping into the tackle.

However, with the penalty advantage Bath got on the scoreboard as Freddie Burns reduced the gap to four, as the fly-half slotted the ball straight through the uprights. [3-7]

Bath continued to dominate proceedings, only to be denied at the third time of asking by a miraculous covering tackle from Manu Tuilagi. This time James Wilson fired the ball into the 22 and some fantastic offloading from from Chudley allowed co-captain, Matt Garvey to make further ground and put Bath in scoring range. After scoring last week against Wasps, Chudley looked to add to his tally, but his reach for the line was somehow stopped by Tuilagi. Despite all of Bath’s attacking dominance, they still trailed by five points with 24 minutes gone. [3-7]

Bath continued to camp out in the red zone and three minutes later, they were rewarded for their persistence. After Mike Fitzgerald had lost the ball forward, the scrum went to Bath five metres from the try line. Chudley used quick ball from the scrum and fed to Jamie Roberts, who crashed over the line. Burns added the extras to put Bath in the lead. [10-7]

With eight minutes to play in the half, Bath extended their advantage with their second of the game. Burns put a pinpoint kick into the Leicester 22 and his chase forced the turnover to put Bath on the front foot once again. Nathan Catt was on hand to power his way over from close range to give Bath a lead of eight points.

There were no further scores in for either team in the closing moments, but the momentum was firmly with the home side going into the half-time break.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 15 -7 Leicester Tigers 

The second-half started with gusto, but it wasn’t until the 53rd minute until any further points were added. After Bath were penalised for not rolling away, Ford put Tigers to within five on the scoreboard from the tee. [15-10]

Bath responded immediately in what will go down as one of the finishes of the season. Louw released the ball out wide to Burns, who sent a flat pass to Max Wright and the centre in turn offloaded to McConnochie. The winger showed his power and trickery, as he fended off Ellis Genge on the touchline before finishing in the corner. [20-10]

Both teams were defending for all their worth, Tigers had made 155 tackles to Bath’s 86 with just over ten minutes to play. However, the next points went to the visitors as Ford put his side to within a score with another successful penalty. [20-13]

The points kept coming as Bath were given a penalty for a high tackle on the rampaging Cooper Vuna two minutes later. Rhys Priestland was now on the pitch after replacing Burns, and despite the low trajectory, he restored Bath’s 10-point lead. [23-13]

The final points of the game went to Leicester in the 77th minute and Ford sealed his 100% kicking record. However, the capacity crowd were not left disappointed as the Blue, Black and White finished 2018 in style against their old rivals.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 23-16 Leicester Tigers 

 

2019

5TH JANUARY 2019 WORCESTER V BATH

There was late drama at Sixways, as Worcester Warriors scored in the 98th minute to secure a 21-19 victory against Bath Rugby.

It was a cagey start to the game, with Worcester dominating the early exchanges. However, it was Bath who got the first points of the game when Worcester were penalised for offside just outside their 22. Freddie Burns pointed to the uprights and gave his side an early three-point lead inside 10 minutes. [0-3]

The visitors increased their lead with six minutes later. Bath were awarded a penalty mid-way inside the Worcester half after Sam Lewis was penalised at the scrum. Burns made no mistake from the tee and in doing so doubled his side’s lead. [0-6]

After Michael Fatialofa was shown a yellow card on the 19th minute mark for a shoulder charge on Tom Ellis, Bath kept the scoreboard ticking over. After putting pressure in the 22, Worcester conceded another penalty for going off their feet at the breakdown. Burns added another successful penalty kick, to give the Blue, Black and White a nine-point lead going into the second quarter. [0-9]

Worcester responded with a penalty of their own six minutes later, as Duncan Weir reduced arrears with his first kick at goal of the afternoon. [3-9]

Bath looked to have scored the first try of the game eight minutes from the interval with superb breakaway move. Jamie Roberts sent a looping pass to James Wilson who made a good break before finding Cooper Vuna outside him. The winger in turn charged into the 22 before sending the ball back inside to Wilson who looked like he’d gone over the whitewash. However, after consultation with the TMO, the referee disallowed the try with Ted Hill providing the crucial intervention.

It wasn’t long before Bath did get their reward, as they continued to pile on the pressure at the resulting scrum. A couple phases later, Zach Mercer bundled his way over from close range to score. Burns continued his 100% record, extending the visitors lead to 13 points with six minutes left to play in the half. [3-16]

Three minutes later Bath were awarded another penalty and Burns duly added the routine conversion from in front of the sticks.

Half-time – Worcester Warriors 3-19 Bath Rugby 

The first points of the second half came after 48 minutes and they went Worcester’s way. After Bath for a high tackle, Weir doubled his tally for the afternoon with another successful penalty attempt. [6-19]

Worcester stepped up the gears in the second half and the momentum began to shift the way of the home side. With 58 minutes played, Francois Venter made a devastating break on the left flank, drawing the last man before offloading to Heem on his left shoulder. The Worcester winger ran in to reduce the gap to eight points going into the final quarter. [11-19]

With just over 15 minutes to play, Bath were reduced to 14 men when Ian Tempest showed Ross Batty a red card for a neck roll at the breakdown.

With the man advantage, Worcester continued to ramp up the pressure with the prolific Weir adding another penalty to put his side within touching distance on the scoreboard. [14-19]

With three minutes to play of normal time, Worcester went for the corner, as they sought out the crucial score. A series of scrums followed before replacement Max Lahiff was sent to the sin-bin. With the numerical advantage, Worcester continued to test the resolve of the Bath scrum and another yellow card followed. This time, it was Lucas Noguera, who was shown his marching orders. Jacques van Rooyen and Henry Thomas returned to the field to take the front row up to its full complement.

After holding up a 94th minute scrum, it appeared that Aled Brew may have made the telling tackle to bring the game to a halt. However, the flurry of cards continued as Tempest pulled the yellow card from his pocket for offside to leave Bath with 11 going into another scrum.

With 98 minutes on the clock, Worcester used the numbers out wide from the scrum, and Heem ran in to score his second of the game. Weir successfully converted to give the Warriors the most dramatic of victories. [21-19]

Full-time – Worcester Warriors 21-19 Bath Rugby 

12th JANUARY 2019 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby came away with a last-minute victory over Wasps Rugby, courtesy of a 78th minute penalty from fly-half Rhys Priestland. Giving them a 18-16 victory against a strong Wasps side at the Rec, in the 5th Round of the Heineken Champions Cup.

The visitors got off to a good start, with the first points of the game going their way, seven minutes in as Bath were penalised for offside on their own 10 metre line. Fly Half, Lima Sopoaga slotted the ball cleanly through the posts, giving his side an early lead. [0-3]

It didn’t take long for the hosts to respond, just two minutes later Darren Atkins offloaded to the returning Taulupe Faletau who showed his class, beating off two defenders on halfway, the Welsh International was brought to ground by Wasps Rob Miller, but was able to pop the ball up to Max Green on his way down, the scrum half showed his pace and powered over the whitewash in the corner. Rhys Priestland conversion drifted wide of the left upright. [5-3]

Wasps got back in front with 14 minutes on the clock, a multitude of penalties against the hosts saw them defending their own try line, Wasps with a line-out five metres out. A well-set maul from Wasps took them to just centimetres out, and after a couple of phases Nathan Hughes crossed the whitewash. The TMO was called into action for a potential knock on, but following deliberation the try was awarded. Sopoaga converted to give his side a five-point lead. [5-10]

In a game of what seemed to be cat and mouse, Bath retook the lead on the 21stminute mark. A Bath line-out just inside their own half was utilized well, Max Green providing fast ball from the first phase to Max Wright, the centre drawing in two defenders before releasing Zach Mercer outside him with a clever, pop pass. The number eight going in to score on a superb attacking line. This time Priestland made no mistake from the tee, adding the extras and putting his side into the lead.

End to end action followed in the second quarter, with neither side able to capitalise on any points. Sopoaga had the opportunity to put his side into the lead going into the interval, however the kick fell short of the uprights. Bath taking a two-point lead into half-time.

Half-time: Bath Rugby: 12-10 Wasps

Wasps came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, attacking the Bath half early on. Bath were penalised for not rolling away just outside their own 22, and Sopoaga added three points to his tally, giving his side a narrow lead after 44 minutes. [12-13]

The Wasps fly-half was shown a yellow card on the 60th minute following a no arms tackle on replacement Jackson Willison. The infringement occurred just inside the Wasps 22, Priestland took the opportunity well and sent the ball through the uprights, his side taking a narrow lead going into the final quarter. [13-12]

Despite being down to 14 men, Wasps managed to collect three points. Rob Miller covering for Sopoaga and slotting a penalty from around 35 metres out, the kick enough to put the visitors back into the lead. [15-16]

Wasps looked to extend their lead on the 72nd minute mark, with Billy Searle taking over kicking duties. His kick fell short of the posts and Bath went on the attack, searching for the valuable points.

The points came, just two minutes from time. Bath picked up a penalty advantage following a scrum, just outside the Wasps 22, the attack came to nothing, so play went back. Priestland didn’t hesitate, pointing straight to the uprights, the penalty sailed through the uprights, to give his side an important lead, with just a minute to go. [18-16]

The full whistle blew as Wasps knocked forward in the midfield, Bath Rugby coming away with an impressive 18-16 victory over a full-strength Wasps side.

Full-time: Bath Rugby 18-16 Wasps Rugby

20th JANUARY 2019 TOULOUSE V BATH

Despite a valiant second-half fightback, Bath Rugby were edged out 20-17 by four-time European Champions Toulouse at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Bath withstood the early pressure from the hosts, with the men in black spending much of the first 10 minutes camped inside their own 22. Maxime Medard was closest to unlocking the Bath defence with a clever grubber through to Cheslin Kolbe. However, the full-back’s kick just eluded the winger.

With 13 minutes on the clock, Toulouse made their early dominance count with the opening try of the afternoon. With Bath defending on their line, Kolbe made a dash off his right wing, but Zach Mercer did brilliantly to stop the South African international crossing the whitewash. However, in the subsequent play, Iosefa Tekori crashed over from the maul. Zack Holmes added the extras. [7-0]

Bath came within a whisker of a try of their own two minutes later. Mercer found the opening in the 22 and charged for the line. The back row looked for the supporting Max Clark, but his offload just went astray and Toulouse were able to clear their lines.

Holmes increased his side’s lead on the 17 minute mark, as the Australian slotted a penalty after Bath were penalised for holding on. Bath got their first points on the scoreboard six minutes later, with Rhys Priestland making no mistake from the tee. [10-3]

Toulouse continued to test the Bath defence and a second try of the afternoon nearly followed. The The French side quickly switch from from right to left and with the numbers out wide it looked like Yoann Huget had found his way over in the corner. The cheers from the crowd were short-lived, as the TMO showed that Clark had miraculously stopped the winger inches from the line.

With the game drifting into the final ten minutes of the half, Toulouse managed to break through the resolute Bath defence. Dupont was at the centre of the move, as the scrum half made the initial break into the 22. The ball was recycled to the left wing, before both sides scrambled for the loose ball on the left wing. However, it was Dupont who was quickest and found his way over to score. Holmes made it a seven-point score with kick. [17-3]

Bath continued to show their intent in attack, with Dave Attwood showing his power with ball in hand to take the Blue, Black and White to within seven metres of the line. Despite put considerable pressure on the the men in red, Bath were unable to make the crucial breakthrough.

Half-time – Toulouse 17-3 Bath Rugby

It was a cagey start to the second half, with neither team able to capitalise on opportunities. Toulouse came closest to scoring, spending five minutes in the Bath 22, but a mixture of strong defence and work at the breakdown saw the visitors come out unscathed.

It wasn’t until the 60th minute when the first points of the half were scored, and it was one worth waiting for. Tom Homer provided the initial break, as the full-back sped his way over halfway. Priestland then stepped into the line and put a pinpoint kick into the Toulouse 22. The home defence were unable to secure the ball and Semesa Rokoduguni was on hand to provide the simple finish. Priestland’s conversion took Bath to within seven points on the scoreboard. [17-10]

A penalty from Thomas Ramos with 13 minutes left gave Toulouse a ten-point buffer, but Bath continued to fight right until the end. [20-10]

Bath’s tenacity and patience was duly rewarded, as Mercer touched down with five minutes to play. The Blue, Black and White mounted attack after attack before a penalty was signalled deep into the Toulouse 22. Captain Luke Charteris called for the five metre scrum and it paid dividends. A few short carries followed before Mercer barged his way over under the posts. Priestland quickly added the drop-kick conversion to put Bath within three of their French counterparts. [20-17]

With the clock ticking away, Bath were unable to complete the comeback, but will come away with a huge amount of credit following a huge 80 minute effort against one of Europe’s in-form sides.

Full-time – Toulouse 20-17 Bath Rugby

4th FEBRUARY 2019 BATH V GLOUCESTER

Semesa Rokoduguni scored four times as Bath Rugby cruised to a 52-0 victory over Gloucester Rugby in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

It took just three minutes for Bath to register their first points of the game and it was one to remember. A series of slick passes inside the Bath half saw Rhys Priestland release Semesa Rokoduguni. The talismanic winger cut inside the retreating Gloucester defence and showed his turn of pace before finishing in the corner. Priestland added the touchline conversion to give Bath the early lead. [7-0]

Bath continued to pile on the pressure on the Gloucester defence, and added a further three points to the scoreboard courtesy of a penalty from the boot of Priestland. [10-0]

Not to be outdone by Rokoduguni, Ruaridh McConnochie was next to show his finishing skills on the 16 minute mark. The returning Paul Grant found the space down the left wing, before offloading to McConnochie, who left the visitors for dust as the winger crossed in style. [17-0]

Gloucester made a few flurries into the Bath 22, but were met by a wall of Blue, Black and White as they were unable to close the gap on their West Country rivals.

Shortly before the interval, Bath scored their third of the half under the Monday light nights at the Rec. After Priestland had given Bath a five metre line-out, the catch and drive was called into play with devastating effect. The well-worked maul rumbled its way over the line, with Jack Walker rising under a pile of bodies over the Gloucester line. Priestland continued his faultless record from the tee to take Bath into the interval with a commanding lead.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 24-0 Gloucester Rugby

It was a scrappy opening 15 minutes to the second half, with neither side able to capitalise on any openings. However, with 56 minutes on the clock, Rokoduguni struck once again. The catch and drive proved a fruitful tactic once again, as Bath used quick ball to release the back line. It was Priestland, who sent the winger in for his second of the game. Priestland added a superb touchline conversion to put further distance between the two sides. [31-0]

The floodgates opened in the last 20 minutes, with Tom Homer getting in amongst the tries. Bath were getting plenty of joy from a dominant set piece and with penalty advantage looming from the scrum, replacement Freddie Burns sent a huge looping pass across to Homer, who had the simplest of finishes. [38-0]

Try number six and a hat-trick for Rokoduguni soon followed for the free-flowing Blue, Black and White. It was Burns at the centre of the move once again, as he stepped into the line to intercept a Gloucester pass. His clever offload found Grant, with Willison putting Rokoduguni over in the corner. Burns took over kicking duties, but continued Bath’s 100% record from the tee. [45-0]

Bath made it a half century of points with the last action of the game, as Rokoduguni capped off a Man of the Match display with his fourth and Bath’s seventh of the evening. Unlike his first, it was a routine finish for Rokoduguni. Burns gave his side the attacking platform with a cross field kick, which saw Homer, Charlie Ewels and Henry Thomas carry hard to take Bath to within five metres. With the numbers out wide, Bath spread the ball out to the right wing, opening up the space in the corner for Rokoduguni. Burns took the conversion from out on the touchline and despite hitting the posts, the flags were raised to the delight of the Rec faithful.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 52-0 Gloucester Rugby   

16th FEBRUARY 2019 BATH V NEWCASTLE

Bath Rugby secured a winning bonus-point at the Rec, with a hard-fought 30-13 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Newcastle dominated the early possession, but it was Bath that got the first points on the board through the boot of Rhys Priestland, who kicked a penalty eight minutes in. [3-0]

Newcastle hit back with three points of their own two minutes later, with Toby Flood slotting a routine effort over the uprights to put his side level on the scoreboard. [3-3]

Bath showed their cutting edge when they got their hands on the ball and we’re rewarded mid-way into the half with the first try of the afternoon. After sustained pressure on the Falcons line, Nathan Catt looked like he’d found his way over from close range. However, the front rower was held up over the line by some dogged defence from the visitors. However, from the resulting set piece, Bath showed quick hands as Priestland and Tom Homer combined to put Semesa Rokoduguni through for his fifth try in two games. [8-3]

With Priestland missing the touchline conversion, Flood put his side to within two points with another penalty four minutes later. [8-6]

Inside the last nine minutes of the half, Bath found their way over the whitewash for a second time to the delight of the 14,331 in attendance at the Rec. Rokoduguni was at the centre of the move, as the winger dazzled his way past several defenders to put Bath on the front foot inside the Falcons 22. The Blue, Black and White switched from right to left before Jonathan Joseph put in a deft grubber kick behind the Falcons defence. Joe Cokanasiga was on hand to provide the finishing touch, as he raced down the wing to ground the ball in spectacular fashion in the corner. [13-6]

There was just enough time for Bath to increase their advantage with a third try of the half. With the half drifting into the final 20 seconds, Bath showed their attacking intent by going for the corner following a Falcons infringement in kicking range. The option paid off, as Bath made in roads with the catch and drive stopping just short of the line. Co-captain Will Chudley peeled off the back and showed all his experience to dart over from close range. Priestland added the extras to send Bath into the interval with a 14-point lead.

Half-time – Bath Rugby 20-6 Newcastle Falcons

With the game drifting away from Falcons, a quick start to the second-half was crucial for Dean Richards’ side. Within 10 minutes of the restart they found themselves with a lifeline courtesy of a try from number eight Nemani Nagusa. It was a well-worked set-piece move, as Falcons used the momentum of a line-out to drive for the line. Bath were unable to stop the rampaging maul and Nagusa crossed to reduce arrears to seven points following Flood’s successful conversion. [20-13]

Falcons were back within touching distance moments later, as they searched for a crucial score. However, they were met with a brick wall of Blue, Black and White as they withstood five minutes of phases on their own line before turning the ball over and clearing from danger.

With 15 minutes to go, Priestland gave his side a bit of breathing space with a penalty, which took the game to two scores difference. [23-13]

Bath got the fourth try they’d been looking for with 73 minutes on the clock. Excellent pressure on the Newcastle defence created the opportunity, with Cokanasiga and Elliott Stooke running hard lines to take Bath to within a metre. Quick distribution from Max Green saw Francois Louw crash over from to secure the bonus-point. Priestland added the extras from the tee. [30-13]

Sinoti Sinoti looked like he’d closed the gap with a try of his own, as he came in off his right wing. However, his spectacular dive was halted by the retreating Cokanasiga, who dislodged the ball from the grasp of the New Zealander.

Bath remained composed in the closing stages to record a bonus-point victory, which takes them up to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 30-13 Newcastle Falcons

23rd FEBRUARY 2019 NORTHAMPTON V BATH

A last minute try snatched a 27-26 victory for Northampton Saints over Bath Rugby, in a hard-fought contest at Franklin’s Gardens.

The hosts came out firing in the first five minutes of the game but all attempts were met and quashed by the Bath defence. Saints looked like they crossed the whitewash early on however referee Ian Tempest used the TMO to reveal a Bath Rugby hand stopped the grounding.

Whilst the game started with gusto it took 16 minutes before the first points were found. A penalty awarded at the scrum allowed Northampton an opportunity to kick for goal. Positioned over 40 meters out and on the wing, fly-half James Grayson sent the ball through the posts to give his side the three point lead. [3-0]

Bath secured the first try of the half, 30 minutes into the game following some exceptional offloading from Dave Attwood and Jonathan Joseph (who were celebrating 150 and 100 appearances for their club respectively). Fly-half Rhys Priestland made good ground before sending Ruaridh McConnochie clear. The winger charged up the left flank, leaving defenders in his wake, dotting the ball firmly down in the corner. Priestland added the extras. [3-7]

Half-Time – Northampton Saints 3-7 Bath Rugby

It didn’t take long in the second half for the first points to be scored, Bath extended their lead three minutes in. A penalty at the scrum gave Priestland the opportunity to further his sides lead, he slotted the ball through the uprights to give Bath a seven point buffer. [3-10]

Northampton responded immediately with their first try of the game coming just three minutes later. The hosts made an impressive break down the right flank, bringing play to just meters out from the try line. As Bath’s defence attempted to regather, the ball was spread out wide to Rory Hutchinson who went over in the right corner. Grayson’s kick from out wide was good and the scores were level. [10-10]

In a game of cat and mouse, Bath responded two minutes later. Powerful carries from Attwood and Nathan Catt took play deep inside Saints half, Mercer received the ball at pace on the Northampton 22, the number eight showed his versatility, slicing through Northampton’s defence, and showing his turn of pace to run in to score. Priestland made no mistake with the extras. [10-17].

Saints won a penalty at the set piece and Grayson kept his 100% kicking record clean and added another three for his team with 56 minutes on the clock. [13-17]

The next points of the game came three minutes later as Bath were awarded a penalty after Jackson Willison was taken without the ball. Priestland continued his clean record from the tee to take Bath to seven in front. [13-20]

The home side did well from the restart, Northampton Saints were patient in the build-up, good carries from the forwards and moments of magic from the hosts back-line brought play to 15 metres out. Alex Mitchell dummied a pass from the base of the ruck and sneaked through a gap in Bath’s defensive line to score. The conversion was good, and the scores were level again. [20-20]

Joseph showed his class following the set piece, breaking through the Northampton defensive line, taking play to just five metres out. Referee Ian Tempest awarded Bath a penalty at the resulting breakdown and Priestland sent the ball through the uprights to give Bath a narrow lead with 10 minutes remaining. [20-23]

The lead was doubled three minutes later, Priestland sending another penalty over after another breakdown penalty, the fly-half clearly had his kicking boots on. [20-26]

It was Northampton who had the last say however, spending the final five minutes of the game camped just out from the Bath try-line, the hosts picked up a penalty advantage. Lock David took the penalty quickly, catching the Bath defenders unaware and crashing over to score under the posts. The kick from in front sailed over, Saints snatching it at the death. [27-26]

Full-time – Northampton Saints 27-26 Bath Rugby

8th MARCH 2019 BATH V SARACENS

Rhys Priestland scored six penalties, as he helped Bath Rugby record a hard-fought 18-9 victory over reigning Gallagher Premiership Champions Saracens at the Rec.

It was a strong start from Bath, with Elliott Stooke showing his intent from the outset with a barnstorming run through the Saracens defence. Bath remained patient through the phases in the 22, which resulted in a penalty. Rhys Priestland took the opportunity to put his side in front with just four minutes on the clock. Saracens responded six minutes later, with Lozowski levelling the scores with a penalty of his own.  [3-3]

Wet and windy conditions tested both sides at the Rec in a hugely attritional contest. Saracens continued to test the resolve of the home defence, but the Blue, Black and White held firm. Bath took their opportunity when it arose, with Priestland slotting a straight forward kick from in front of the posts. [6-3]

The Blue, Black and White continued to keep the champions at bay, with the competition’s highest scorers unable to break through the resolute Bath defence. It was in fact Bath who kept the scoreboard ticking over with another penalty to send his side into the interval with a six-point lead.

Half time – Bath Rugby 9-3 Saracens

Saracens quickly reduced the deficit after the interval, with Bath penalised at the scrum shortly after the restart. Lozowski pointed for the posts and his kick sailed through the uprights. [9-6]

Saracens continued to apply the pressure and after missing an earlier attempt, Lozowski’s brought his side level with another penalty with just under 30 minutes to play. [9-9]

After a slow start to the half, Bath needed a response. Two successive penalties saw Bath move to within five metres of the Saracens line. A further infringement in the 22 gave the referee no option but to show replacement Ben Earl the yellow card. Priestland put Bath back into the ascendancy, adding another three points to his tally. [12-9]

Despite being down to 14 men, Saracens drew another penalty, but Lozowski missed his mark, as his kick drifted right of the posts. However, the tie took another turn with Ross Batty sent to the sin-bin for blocking Alex Lewington, as Saracens looked to capitalise on a kick over the top. Lozowski eyed up another kick at goal, but couldn’t convert the points, with Bath holding a narrow advantage going into the final 10 minutes. [12-9]

With Saracens back up to their full compliment, they continued to rally but Bath were not ready to surrender their lead. It was fitting that Man of the Match Elliott Stooke came up with a crucial play, as the second row turned back rower secured possession following a line-out in the opposition half. With penalty advantage looming, replacement Kahn Fotuali’i showed his experience to slow the ball down to give Priestland another chance at goal. The fly-half kept his composure and found his target to further extend Bath’s lead. [15-9]

Priestland put the game out of reach with two minutes to go to prevent Saracens coming away with a losing bonus-point. Bath closed out the final stages to record a memorable victory in front of a 14,055 crowd at the Rec.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 18-9 Saracens 

24th MARCH 2019 EXETER V BATH

Exeter Chiefs produced a strong second half showing to record a 29-10 victory over Bath Rugby at Sandy Park.

It was a positive start from the visitors, with Ruaridh McConnochie making a blistering run from halfway into the Exeter 22. The hosts did well to retreat in defence, but Bath continued to mount the pressure in attack. The persistence paid off and Rhys Priestland slotted the first points of the game from the tee with five minutes played. [0-3]

Exeter hit back three minutes later with a penalty of their own after Bath were penalised for not rolling away in their 22. Joe Simmonds kicked a routine penalty to draw his side level. [3-3]

Former Bath man Olly Woodburn nearly crawled his way over the line moments later, but after intervention from the TMO the try was ruled out. The Blue, Black and White showed great presence to turn defence into attack with a piece of individual brilliance from Jonathan Joseph. The centre broke through from halfway finding Tom Ellis outside him to take his side to just a few metres out. Nathan Catt was on hand to bundle over and score following several phases. Priestland added the extras, increasing his sides lead to seven points with 15 minutes played. [3-10]

Chiefs showed their resilience to hit back 15 minutes before the interval. Exeter dislodged the ball from Bath hands as they looked to attack from inside their 22. The ball was quickly recycled to the right wing and Jack Nowell made further in roads. The ball then came back inside, with Simmonds making the crucial break before offloading to Ollie Devoto to score. [10-10]

Two minutes from the break, the hosts struck again, with Dave Ewers making a blistering break into the Bath 22. Play was spread from right to the left, before Don Armand popped a clever pass to captain Jack Yeandle running on his inside shoulder. The hooker did the rest and crossed the whitewash to put his side into the lead for the first time. Simmonds extended the lead to seven. [17-10]

Half-time Exeter Chiefs 10-17 Bath Rugby

The opening stages of the second half proved to be frantic to say the least, with play moving from one end to the field to the other. Bath held the majority of the territory and possession, but were unable to break down an irrepressible defensive line.

It took 20 minutes in the second half before the next points came. After a prolonged spell of pressure, and several penalties awarded to Exeter, referee Karl Dickson signalled a penalty try as the home side’s scrum rumbled towards the line. To make matters worse for the visitors, prop Beno Obano was shown a yellow card and Bath were reduced to 14 men. [24-10]

Bath showed tenacity to survive being one man down, but Chiefs dealt the killer blow five minutes from time. Exeter kept the pressure on in the 22 and took full advantage. Despite Tom Homer’s best efforts to intercept, the home side had the weight in numbers with Woodburn dotting down in the corner for the bonus point. [29-10]

Full-time Exeter Chiefs 29-10 Bath Rugby

6th APRIL 2019 BATH V BRISTOL

Bath Rugby claimed a bonus-point 26-19 victory over West Country rivals Bristol Bears in front of a crowd of 60,152 at Twickenham Stadium.

It could not have been a better start for Bath Rugby, as they took the lead through a Jonathan Joseph score after just two minutes. Bristol looked to play from deep and Bath capitalised on a loose pass, which secured an attacking five metre scrum. From the set piece, Kahn Fotuali’i spotted numbers out wide with Rhys Priestland picking out Joseph on his outside. The centre skipped around the Bristol defence and buried his way over the line. Priestland converted from out wide to give Bath the early lead. [7-0]

Bristol responded with some attacking flair of their own, which resulted in their first points of the afternoon. After Bath were penalised for offside, Callum Sheedy kicked over a straight forward penalty from in front of the posts. [7-3]

It didn’t take long for Bath to get back on the scoreboard, with Ruaridh McConnochie rising highest to win back possession from straight from the restart. The backs worked their magic once again and Joseph turned from try scorer to provider, with a clever kick in behind the Bears defence. Jamie Roberts watched the ball patiently before collecting to score Bath’s second of the afternoon. Priestland’s kick drifted wide of the uprights. [12-3]

Bath made it three tries with just 22 minutes on the clock. A scrum in the midfield saw Zach Mercer sear through the Bears’ defensive line. Fellow back rower Sam Underhill was on his shoulder and a clever offload sent him deep inside the 22. The Bristol defence regathered, but Bath maintained composure deep in the 22. It was Joe Cokanasiga with the finishing touch, as the winger powered his way over from close range. Priestland added the extras to give his side a 16-point advantage. [19-3]

Bristol made Bath pay in the closing 10 minutes of the half conceding a number of penalties. Bristol were able to reduce arrears through the boot of Sheedy, who scored three successful penalties to take the sides into the interval closely poised at 19-12.

Half time – Bath Rugby 19-12 Bristol Bears 

It was a tentative opening to the second half at Twickenham, with neither side able to make any headway into the opposition territory.

The deadlock was finally broken with 56 minutes played. Bristol looked to play the ball from inside their half, but it cost them dearly. Priestland got his boot on to a loose pass just outside the Bristol 22 and gave chase towards the try line. The fly-half finished off a try out of nothing to secure a bonus-point for the Blue, Black and White. The fly-half converted his own try to extend his side’s lead to 14. [26-12]

With a large share of possession, Bristol continued to test the resolve of the Bath defence. With just over 10 minutes to play, Bristol reduced the gap with their second of the afternoon. Quick hands saw the Bears mount an attack on the left wing, and the numbers out wide proved pivotal. Alapati Leiua sent Dan Thomas clear, with the flanker charging down the touchline to run in for a vital score. The successful conversion put the visitors to within a score. [26-19]

However, Bristol were unable to bridge the gap on their local rivals and Bath came away with the victory that takes them up to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 26-19 Bristol Bears 

13th APRIL 2019 GLOUCESTER V BATH

A strong second half showing saw Gloucester Rugby fight back to claim a 27-23 win over Bath Rugby at Kingsholm.

Bath came out of the blocks firing with their first try coming inside the first five minutes. Jamie Roberts made the first scything break into the Gloucester 22, before the Blue, Black and White built over 20 phases in the opposition danger zone. Spotting the space out wide, Freddie Burns put in a superbly weighted cross-field kick, to find Ruaridh McConnochie, who did the rest. Burns went from provider to scorer, as the fly-half slotted the extras. [0-7]

Bath continued to mount pressure from the restart and were quickly back on the Gloucester line. Their efforts were rewarded as Burns kicked his side further in front after the Cherry and Whites were penalised for offside. [0-10]

It got better for the visitors, with Tom Dunn adding a second try on the 18 minute mark. Bath had controlled almost all of the territory in the early stages and it was Joe Cokanasiga, who showed his attacking intent powering his way into the 22. A sublime pass from Kahn Fotuali’i sent Dunn through, who crossed with Sam Underhill in support. Burns added the extras from out wide. [0-17]

It was a half of two halves, with Gloucester dominating the closing 15 minutes of the first period. However, Bath showed their strength in defence, as they managed to withstand a lengthy passage of pressure.

With the clock in the red, Gloucester finally got their reward with their first points of the afternoon. The hosts secured quick ball from the line-out, before Danny Cipriani stepped into the line to provide the crucial pass. The in-form fly-half dummied a pass out the back, before finding his intended target Josh Hohneck on his shoulder. The prop crashed through to score, with Billy Twelvetrees added the conversion to reduce their deficit to 10 going into the interval. [7-17]

Half-time Gloucester Rugby 7-17 Bath Rugby

The momentum continued to swing in favour of Gloucester, with Beno Obano sent to the sin bin for a no arms tackle a minute into the half. With the numerical advantage, Ruan Ackermann showed quick thinking from the free-kick to put his side to within three points with 44 minutes played. [14-17]

Bath looked to stem the flow and just four minutes later they were back on the scoreboard. After McConnochie was taken in the air under the high ball, Burns kept a cool head to slot a long range penalty. [14-20]

However, it didn’t take long for Gloucester to register their third of the West Country derby. Former Bath man Matt Banahan instigated the move, as the ball was spread out wide to the right wing. The full-back looked to have enough pace to go in to score himself, but unselfishly sent Henry Purdy through to touch down in the corner. Twelvetrees’ missed conversion ensured Bath held on to a narrow lead. [19-20]

Intelligent thinking from Burns took Bath’s further in front. With Bath losing forward pressure in the attack, the fly-half put boot to ball and fired over a drop goal from 30 metres out. This gave Bath a four-point lead going into the last 20 minutes. [19-23]

Gloucester picked up their fourth and bonus-point try after 63 minutes. With the attack just outside the Bath 22, Twelvetrees and Cipriani combined to put Matt Banahan into space on the right wing. The full-back drew in the last man before sending Tom Seabrook over the try line. Twelvetrees’ conversion drifted wide, with the score closely poised. [24-23]

The hosts extended their lead with a Twelvetrees penalty, as Bath were adjudged to have infringed at the maul. Twelvetrees slotted the routine penalty in front of the posts and Gloucester held out the remaining 10 minutes to claim the derby victory. [27-23]

Full-time Gloucester Rugby 27-23 Bath Rugby

26th APRIL 2019 SALE V BATH

Sale Sharks and Bath Rugby battled it out in challenging conditions a cold, wet and windy evening in Manchester. It was a hard-fought game for both teams but the hosts came out on top in the low-scoring encounter.

Freddie Burns gave his side the early lead within 10 minutes of the game, Sale were penalised in the midfield for offside, the fly-half lined up the tee and send a penalty kick soaring through the uprights for the first points of the game. [0-3]

Burns was handed a second opportunity nine minutes later. Bath picked up another penalty in the midfield and the fly-half was given a shot at goal from 30m out. The kick drifted wide of the right upright, and the lead remained three. [0-3]

It was clear from early on, under the challenging conditions that it was to be a low scoring affair, both sides having their chances but neither able to capitalise with points.

It took 29 minutes before Sale registered points on the scoreboard. The Sharks won a penalty on the Bath 22 and it was fly half AJ MacGinty who drew his side level. His kick from directly in front sailed though the sticks. [3-3]

With one minute left of the half Sale got the chance to take the lead but it wasn’t to be as MacGinty’s kick sailed wide of the posts.

Half-time – Sale Sharks 3-3 Bath Rugby

With the torrid conditions continuing into the second half, it was a slow start, with neither side able to register any points in the third quarter of the match, and much of the play in the midfield.

Sale began to build momentum with 60 minutes on the clock, winning consecutive penalties to take them deep inside the Bath half. Bath were penalised once more for an offside decision and this time MacGinty was in a position to go for goal. The American international stepped up and put his side ahead for the first time in the match with 15 minutes remaining.

Priestland had the opportunity to level from the restart as Sale were penalised for offside. The kick was wide of uprights and Sale held their narrow lead. [3-3]

A Solomona intercept came seven minutes later as the winger looked to rush away to score. Joe Cokanasiga did well to get back and make the crucial tackle, however at the resulting ruck, Zach Mercer was adjudged to have gone off his feet warranting a yellow card from referee Tom Foley. Bath did well however to escape their own 22 without conceding. [3-3]

Jonathan Joseph made an incredible break through the Sale defence with two minutes remaining in the match. The centre found Will Chudley who was stopped well by the back tracking Sale defence.

Bath never gave up and continued to attack with intent, and with an attacking scrum inside the Sale 22 as the clock went into the red, it looked as if Bath could have potentially secured a late opportunity to snatch points. However, the ball went forward from the back of the scrum and Sale kicked out to secure the victory. [6-3]

Full-time – Sale Sharks 6-3 Bath Rugby

 

5TH MAY 2019 BATH V WASPS

Bath Rugby fought back from behind to complete a 29-17 bonus-point victory against Wasps in the final home game of the season at the Rec.

Bath opened the scoring with a try coming after just four minutes. Bath had the attacking platform with a line-out just outside the Wasps 22. Freddie Burns shipped the ball out to Jamie Roberts, who made good ground as he charged his way into contact. The ball was quickly redistributed by Will Chudley with the scrum-half finding Jonathan Joseph in the midfield. The centre used the show and go with devastating effect, as the England international powered his way through the Wasps defence to run in unopposed. Burns added the extras from out wide. [7-0]

Bath continued to control much of the territory in the early stages, but were unable to capitalise on points and the visitors hit back with 14 minutes on the clock. Wasps launched the counter attack inside their own half, which took play to just outside the Bath 22. Joe Simpson popped the ball out to Gaby Lovobalavu on the right wing, with the centre cutting back inside to find a way in behind the Bath defence. The quick-footed back drew in the last defender before sending Nizaam Carr through to score. Rob Miller was on hand to level the scores from the tee. [7-7]

Wasps took the lead for the first time in the match through a Nathan Hughes try just over 10 minutes before the interval.  Following sustained pressure to the Bath 22, Wasps pulled a play out of the training manual.  Simpson instigated the move, finding Lovobaluvu in the midfield. The centre sent Hughes through on a brilliant attacking line with a no look pass, touching down to score. Miller extended the visitors lead to seven from directly in front of the uprights. [7-14]

Burns reduced the gap to just four points with three minutes left to play in the first half, as Burns notched a successful penalty. [10-14]

Wasps were agonisingly denied a third try moments later. Quick hands from the back line saw Josh Bassett over the whitewash. However, the Coventry-based side had the effort ruled out for a forward pass following intervention from the TMO. [10-14]

As the clock drifted into the red, Wasps restored their seven-point advantage with a successful penalty from Miller.

Half-time –  Bath Rugby 10-17 Wasps

Bath had the upper hand in the opening exchanges of the second half, but were unable to breakdown the Wasps defence in a hugely attritional contest at the Rec. Neither side were able to gain an opening until 10 minutes to play of the contest.

The pressure began to build and this time it was Bath, who had a try chalked off by the TMO, with replacement Jacques van Rooyen held up over the line.

In the resulting scrum, Bath were awarded a penalty and took up the option to re-set the set-piece. It paid dividends, as Bath went through several phases before Zach Mercer burst over from close range.  Alex Davies added the extras, six minutes left on the clock. [17-17]

The home side continued to mount attack after attack and Joe Cokanasiga put Bath into the lead with just three minutes left to play. The hosts patiently worked their way up the field to the edge of the Wasps 22 before Kahn Fotuali’i switched play to the left wing. Fellow replacement Max Wright was able to draw in two defenders to create space for Ruaridh McConnochie who manoeuvred his way through the Wasps defence. The winger found Cokanasiga in support outside him, who finished off a superb move. [22-17]

With 30 seconds left to play, Sam Underhill provided the crucial turnover to secure a late penalty and the points. Davies sent the ball into the corner and Bath continued to hunt for a vital bonus-point. Bath’s patience paid off and it was Man of the Match Mercer, who got over the try line with Tom Ellis and Underhill in support. Fotuali’i converted the bonus-point score in what was a fitting end to his career at the Rec.

Bath will travel to Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers in the final game of the season, with a top six position within their reach.

Full-time – Bath Rugby 29-17 Wasps

18TH MAY 2019 LEICESTER V BATH

Bath Rugby fought back in spectacular fashion from 26-12 down to make it back-to-back victories against Leicester Tigers this season. The bonus-point 31-32 victory sees Bath finish the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership season in the top six, with Heineken Champions Cup rugby guaranteed for next season.

The first points of the game came after just four minutes, with Bath opening with an early try. Ruaridh McConnochie made a scintillating break on halfway leaving a number of Leicester defenders trailing in his wake before offloading inside to Max Wright in support. The centre found Will Chudley on his shoulder, with the scrum-half hauled down five metres from the line. However, Chudley showed his quick-thinking to pop the ball up to Anthony Watson, who marked his 100th appearance for the Club with a try. Freddie Burns added the extras to take Bath into an early lead. [0-7]

Leicester responded moments later, with former Bath man George Ford slotting a long-range penalty. [3-7]

It was a frantic opening 10 minutes to the game, with Leicester going over for their first try following a well-executed catch and drive from a line-out. After close consultation with the TMO, Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded the try, with Will Spencer the man to rise under a pile of bodies. Ford added the conversion to put his side three in front. [10-7]

Bath quickly got back in front two minutes with their second score of the game, with the back line taking centre stage. A half-break from McConnochie gave Bath front foot ball on the Leicester 22. The visitors quickly recycled possession from right to left and the quick hands put Joe Cokanasiga through in the corner for his ninth try of the season. [10-12]

The points kept flowing in at Welford Road, as Ford put his side back in front with a routine penalty with 18 minutes played. [13-12]

Leicester were next to strike and it was Brendon O’Connor, who scored Leicester’s second of the afternoon. Following a series of phases on the Bath line, the back rower found his way over to score. Ford added the conversion. [20-12]

Ford maintained his 100% record from the tee with a penalty from in front of the sticks 10 minutes before the interval.  [23-12]

With the clock ticking towards half-time, Bath were reduced to 14 men with Max Lahiff shown a yellow card for taking the man without the ball. Ford stepped up and kicked a successful penalty. [26-12]

Bath had the last say of the half, with replacement Rhys Priestland getting his first points of the game from the tee.

Half-time – Leicester Tigers 26-15 Bath Rugby

Four minutes after the interval, Sam Aspland-Robinson was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on. Bath continued to pile pressure on the Leicester defence and Beno Obano ensured Bath left the 22 with a try, as the prop muscled his way over the line. Burns’ conversion put Bath within four points on the scoreboard. [26-22]

The hosts immediately found their way back up to the other end of the field and Clayton Blommetjies was the man to profit, as the winger dived through in the corner following quick hands on the right wing. Ford’s conversion drifted right of the uprights. [31-22]

Priestland moved Bath to within seven with 14 minutes to play, following sustained pressure in the Leicester 22. [31-25]

The three point score from Priestland proved crucial come the final stages as Kahn Fotuali’i broke from the back of a scrum, midway inside the Tigers half with four minutes left to play. The scrum half took play to just metres out before the forwards took over. The attritional phases from Bath eventually led to prop Jacques van Rooyen bundling his way over to reduce the deficit to just a point. Priestland stepped up and slotted the decisive conversion to put his side ahead with less than a minute left to play. Charlie Ewels collected the restart and Bath saw out the final stages to take the victory and guarantee Champions Cup Rugby next season. [31-32]

Full-time – Leicester Tigers 31-32 Bath Rugby

This page was added on 07/01/2020.

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