1st October 2016 Gloucester v Bath
Bath Rugby battled to take the West Country derby day spoils at Kingsholm, beating Gloucester Rugby 6-15.
Greig Laidlaw had the chance to take an early lead for the home side, however the kick was uncharacteristically sent wide by the scrum-half.
The wet conditions underfoot played their part in an error-strewn first-half, as neither side seemed able to build up any meaningful momentum. Bath’s first real foray into the Gloucester 22 came 20 minutes into the half. Patient phase play allowed George Ford to shift back into the pocket, only for his drop goal attempt to come back at him off the post.
It wasn’t until the 30th minute that the first points of the game were registered on the scoreboard – James Hook firing a huge penalty over from the half-way line after Bath were penalised at the scrum. He tried to repeat his efforts moments later, but the slightly longer shot dropped short.
Half-time score: Gloucester Rugby 3 – Bath Rugby 0
As the weather improved, so did the rugby. Bath came out with real purpose at the start of the second-half, pressurising the home side in their own half.
A drop goal from Ford drew the visitors level after 45 minutes, but Laidlaw added a penalty of his own not long after to take his side back in front.
With scoring opportunities few and far between, any chances at goal were taken. Ford saw a long-range penalty attempt fall just wide, but the momentum was with the visitors, and the concerted amount of pressure being put on the hosts soon paid off.
An attacking lineout five metres out provided a solid platform from which Bath attacked. Gloucester defended the maul well, however couldn’t prevent the ball being sent quickly through the hands along the backline. Tom Homer drew the defence, allowing Anthony Watson to find the gap on the outside to dive into the corner and score. 6-8.
Laidlaw’s off-target day with the boot continued, two penalty attempts from distance falling away short of the uprights. Instead, it was Bath who had the deciding play in the game five minutes from time.
A scrum – of which there were many in this game – in the home 22 provided quick ball to the backs. Watson was tackled just short of the line, but the ball was quickly recycled and ended in the hands of Man of the Match Matt Banahan, who had the simple task of dotting down in the corner. Ford added the conversion to increase the points difference to nine.
It was too much for Gloucester to overcome, and with time up on the clock, Banahan sent the ball sailing into touch to seal the derby day victory for the visitors.
Final score: Gloucester Rugby 6 – Bath Rugby 15
6th May 2017 Sale v Bath
Sale Sharks held off a second-half comeback from Bath Rugby to secure a narrow 27-24 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The home side started in the ascendancy, but it was Bath, who were first over the whitewash after 23 minutes through Max Clark, despite being down to 14 men after Shaun Knight was sin-binned six minutes earlier. Matt Banahan and Francois Louw played a pivotal role in the score, with clever offloads giving Bath territorial advantage in the Sale 22. With the platform firmly created, Kahn Fotuali’i used quick ball to find the on-rushing Clark and the outside centre did the rest as he scored his second try in as many games. 3-7
Shortly after, AJ MacGinty added his second penalty of the game before Sale took control of the closing stages of the half with two tries in quick succession. Denny Solomona put his side in front with an excellent solo effort, as the winger evaded the Bath defence and powered his way over the line with seven minutes to go to the half-time whistle. 13-7
With the game into first half stoppage time, Sale scored their second try of the afternoon with another well-worked effort. It was Solomona’s fellow rugby league convert Josh Charnley, who got the move going on the left wing, before flanker Ben Curry forced his way over to extend the Sharks’ lead going into the break.
Half-time score – Sale Sharks 20-10 Bath Rugby
The second half started in similar fashion, with Sale showing their attacking flair in the Bath half. A flowing move from right to left gave Sale numerical advantage and Sam James sent the crucial pass to Charnley, who went in at the corner. 27-10
The momentum started turning in Bath’s favour and with 56 minutes on the clock, the Blue, Black and White found a route back intoin the game. Sale were unable to combat a dominant Bath scrum five metres out and referee Greg Garner had no choice but to award the penalty try. 27-17
Seven minutes later, Bath delivered another seven-point score, with Matt Banahan going using all his strength to score his side’s third try of the afternoon and move within three points on the scoreboard. 27-24
A superb breakaway from Bath nearly finished with Banahan making it a double as the Bath stalwart stretched for the line. The call went to the TMO, but agonisingly for the visitors, Banahan was deemed to have lost forward in his attempt to ground the ball.
Despite some flurries into the opposition half, Sale held on until the final whistle, with the remaining two minutes played with 14 men apiece after Louw and Neil Briggs were sent to the sin-bin.
Final score – Sale Sharks 27-24 Bath Rugby