- Gallagher Premiership
- Sunday, March 1st 2020
- Recreation Ground
Will Carpenter reports from Recreation Ground
Report: Bath Rugby 13-19 Bristol Bears
Sunday, March 1st 2020
Bristol Bears delivered a sensational backs to the wall display to complete a league double over local rivals, Bath and record a first victory at The Recreation Ground since 2006.
First-half tries from Chris Vui and Alapati Leiua and a breakaway third from Harry Randall after the break completed the scoring for Pat Lam’s men, but this was a triumph built on a heroic defensive effort, bravely marshalled by captain Steven Luatua.
Two Rhys Priestland penalties, a yellow card to Joe Joyce and Will Chudley’s 66th-minute try ensured a tense finale to a brutal West Country derby, but a courageous Bristol defence stood firm to earn a fourth successive Gallagher Premiership win and strengthen their grip on the top four.
The game was barely five minutes old when the Bears found space out wide, and after Luatua and Morahan had combined, Chris Vui found the strength and reach to dot down for the game’s opening score.
Priestland’s simple penalty got Bath on the scoreboard at the other end, but Bristol had come to play, despite the damp conditions, and soon found their second courtesy of a magical assist from the red-hot Callum Sheedy. Playing penalty advantage, Sheedy collected Malton’s pulled back pass and ghosted through the Bath defence, before picking out Leiua with a pinpoint kick for a sizzling second.
The hosts soon gained a foothold and piled pressure on the Bristol line, with Joyce paying the price for persistent infringements.
With a numerical advantage, Bath turned down three kickable penalties, in favour of the scrum, but eventually opted to for the posts to allow Priestland to reduce the deficit to six points at half time.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Bristol unable to exit their 22 and Bath unable to break down a resolute Bristol wall.
It was the 64th minute when the visitors eventually gained some field position, but it was misplaced Bath pass on halfway that gave Bristol their third opening. Luatua scooped up the ball from his bootlaces before delivering the most delicate of offloads to the onrushing Morahan. The Australian was hauled down twice, first by Homer and then by Webb, but when the ball was recycled left, replacement Randall sniped his way to the line for a try that looked to have killed the game.
But it hadn’t, and Bath offered a timely repost as Priestland galloped through a hole in the Bristol defence and fed Chudley to make it a six-point game once again.
With 10 minutes on the clock, Sheedy saw his angled penalty fade across the face of posts, as the visitors searched for the killer blow.
Instead, it was Bath who won a penalty of their own, leaving Burns to kick long downfield for one final push. But with possession secured, the replacement fly half saw his chip ahead dribble over the deadball line – and when randall intercepted a pass just inside the Bath half, Piutau found touch to seal a sensational away win.
Teams and scorers
Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Willison, Matavesi, McConnochie; Priestland, Webb; Boyce, Walker, Stuart, McNally, Stooke, Williams, Louw (c), Faletau.
Replacements: Doughty, Obano, Judge, Ellis, Bayliss, Chudley, Burns, Wright.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau; Morahan (Protheroe 68), O'Conor, Bedlow (Madigan 74), Leiua; Sheedy, Uren (Randall 59); Y Thomas (Woolmore 40), Malton (Capon 40), Thiede (Lahiff 40), Holmes, Joyce, Vui, Luatua (c) (Hamilton 67), Crane (Hughes 32).
Replacements: Capon, Woolmore, Lahiff, Hughes, Hamilton, Randall, Madigan, Protheroe.
Bath Rugby: Tries: Chudleigh 66. Cons: Priestland 66. Pens: Priestland 8, 38
Bristol Bears: Tries: Vui 6, Leiua 17, Randall 64. Cons: Sheedy 12, 64. Yellow: Joyce 28
Having led 12-6 at half time despite playing 10 minutes with 14 men, Bristol found themselves on the back foot at the beginning of the first half, as Bath hammered away at the line.
But after riding the initial wave of pressure, Luatua intercepted and located Morahan with a superb offload - and after Morahan was hauled down short of the line twice, the ball was worked left, where Randall dived under the fringe defence to score Bristol's third try.
Steven Luatua with an incredible offload to send Luke Morahan away! 💨💨— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 1, 2020
Homer stops the initial break, but a couple of phases later the away team score their third try of the afternoon... pic.twitter.com/q1LEZuH3jB
Pat Lam reaction
Man of the match: Charles Piutau
When you need someone to create something out of nothing, there is no one better than Charles Piutau.
The full back was sensational once again, but offered far more than the usual dazzling footwork. That was present, of course, with two scintillating breaks from deep inside his 22, and an important carry in the lead up to Harry Randall's try - but Piutau kicked superbly out of hand in a fascinating tactical battle.
"We're proud of our efforts. I just want to thank all of the Bristol supporters... I'm very happy to do it for them." 🐻@Sarraelgan catches the reaction of Man of the Match Charles Piutau and captain Steven Luatua, following the Bears' win over Bath... pic.twitter.com/HraNPZWYsh— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 1, 2020
Photo of the match
Social media highlights
Bristol do the league 'double' over Bath and claim their first Prem win at the Rec since 2006. It's gone a bit quiet hereabouts...— robert kitson (@robkitson) March 1, 2020
8⃣ @BristolBears players 10 or more tackles against Bath— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) March 1, 2020
Ed Holmes - 2⃣1⃣
Joe Joyce - 1⃣8⃣
Chris Vui - 1⃣4⃣
Callum Sheedy - 1⃣3⃣
Shaun Malton - 1⃣3⃣
Yann Thomas - 1⃣1⃣
Jake Woolmore - 1⃣0⃣
Steven Luatua - 1⃣0⃣
No Bath player made 10 or more #Defence pic.twitter.com/V6I7H5ZD6W
Singing blackbird, with your brothers, on the pitch at your local rivals 💙— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) March 1, 2020
Does it get any better? 😀
UP THE BEARS! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/5bPdFskVnh
If you haven't yet caught up with Bristol's second try versus Bath, treat yourself. Brilliantly created by Callum Sheedy. And the sun's out!— robert kitson (@robkitson) March 1, 2020
Callum Sheedy and @BristolBears filth!— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) March 1, 2020
- Priestland (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Leiua, Vui, Randall
- Sheedy (2)
- Yellow Cards: