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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Thursday, May 6th 2021

RedRock Derby Flashback Five

The West Country derby has conjured up drama, tension and many a memorable moment throughout the years - here's a run down of five of the best at The Rec, powered by RedRock.

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Bath 6-32 Bristol - April 7th 1971

Bristol had lost at home to Bath earlier in the season, the game having been decided by a controversial last-minute try. The return match was scheduled for its traditional slot of early March, but the fixture clashed with the County Championship final in which numerous Bristol players were involved.

The Bath game was moved to a Wednesday evening in April, and Bristol enjoyed an unusually high-scoring victory at the Rec. Bristol started and finished the game superbly, scoring two tries in the opening quarter and four more in the final thirteen minutes. Bristol played with such confidence that it was hard to believe they had lost three of their last four games.

Strangely, all four of the team’s three-quarter line were wingers, and all four of them scored tries. It was a particularly appropriate that Mike Collins was one of the try-scorers as this was his 300th first team match.


Bath 15-24 Bristol - October 18th 1975

The RFU started its knockout competition in the 1971-72 season, but it took until 1975-76 for them to organise a trophy and a sponsor. This match was Bristol’s first ever game in the newly-christened John Player Cup, and it was their first cup meeting with Bath.

Bristol were in the middle of an autumn run of eleven consecutive victories, but this match was a close one, full of typical cup-tie rugby. The hero was outside half Dave Sorrell. He missed with some early kicks at goal, but he ended the game with twenty points, comprising six penalties and a conversion.

The decisive moment in this tense encounter came near the end when winger Ken Plummer scored Bristol’s only try in the right corner. This game remains Bristol’s only cup victory at the Rec. They won at London Irish in the next round, before losing a home quarter final to Rosslyn Park.


Bath 19-30 Bristol - November 24th 2002

Many supporters will remember this game because it brought to an end a gloomy spell of twenty-one years during which Bristol failed to win at the Rec. Following a fairly routine 19-6 success on October 19th 1981, Bristol played nineteen matches in Bath, losing the lot, sometimes by embarrassing margins.

Historically, Bristol victories in Bath were fairly commonplace, but as the years rolled on without a win such successes became a distant memory. That all changed on November 24th 2002 in a meeting between two sides struggling for form in the Premiership. Bristol were the better side on the day, and the key moment came in the second half when hooker Paul Johnstone broke from a maul to score a try at the clubhouse end of the ground.

Bristol won the return match as well, a never-to-be-forgotten thriller at Ashton Gate, but the season concluded with relegation.


Bath 12-19 Bristol - November 18th 2006 

This match occurred during Bristol’s remarkable 2006-07 campaign which culminated in a third place finish in the Premiership. Head coach Richard Hill’s side had been written off as relegation contenders by the national media, but the team confounded all expectations and played some wonderful rugby throughout the season.

This Saturday evening encounter saw the teams locked at 6-6 after forty minutes, but Bristol were the stronger side after the break. They scored the only try of the match through winger Lee Robinson, who made a habit of scoring key tries in the fixture. The try was made by All Black outside half David Hill, who scored the rest of Bristol’s points with four penalties and a conversion. Bristol actually played Bath four times this season, defeating them three times.


Bath 13-19 Bristol Bears - March 1st 2020 

This recent encounter certainly deserves to be remembered as a classic. Just a few weeks before the Covid pandemic struck, Bristol completed a memorable double over their neighbours, scoring three tries to Bath’s one and defending magnificently for long periods.

Pat Lam deliberately selected a side capable of overcoming Bath’s heavy pack on a damp, muddy surface, and his players responded with no fewer than 215 tackles, with Ed Holmes leading the way with 23. Chris Vui and Alapati Leiua scored first half tries, with Harry Randall adding a second half score, before Bath’s late try set up a nail-biting finish. Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau were outstanding on an afternoon which long be cherished by Bears’ supporters.

It was Bristol’s first win at the Rec since the aforementioned 2006 success, and it was a special moment for Joe Joyce, whose longstanding goal had been to feature in a Bristol victory in Bath.    


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