‘Proud of the effort’ - Stirzaker
Posted: Sunday, October 13th 2019
Thursday, October 20th 2016
Thursday, October 20th 2016
European Rugby Challenge Cup
|Priestland (5)||Penalties||Searle, Geraghty|
Venue: Recreation Ground
Ref: David Wilkinson
A spirited display wasn’t quite enough for Bristol as they fell to a 22-6 defeat at the hands of Bath in the European Challenge Cup on Thursday night.
A penalty apiece from Billy Searle and Shane Geraghty completed the scoring for Bristol, while 17 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland and Matt Banahan's late try saw the hosts take the spoils.
In front of a full house at The Rec, it was an impressive start for Searle who, on debut, waltzed his way through the home defence as early as the third minute before being hauled down just inches short of the whitewash. A scrambling Bath defence regouped and were able to clear their lines courtesy of a penalty, as play reconvened in the Bristol half.
From here, a second Bristol infringement saw Rhys Priestland open the Bath account with a well-struck 40-metre penalty – and after Billy Searle had seen his effort drift wide of the left-hand post, the Welshman doubled the host’s lead with a carbon copy of his first kick.
Searle made amends on 27 minutes when he dissected the uprights with a penalty from just outside the 22 – while in contrast, Tom Homer’s speculative effort from halfway minutes later proved unsuccessful. The home side did eventually increase their lead courtesy of a third Priestland penalty on the half-hour mark, to nudge them into a 9-3 lead.
Bristol were enjoying territory and possession in the Bath half, but were unable to turn pressure into points – while at the other end, Priestland kept the scoreboard ticking with a fourth penalty on the stroke of half-time as Bath took a nine-point lead into the break.
Early in the second-half, one debutant replaced another as Shane Geraghty entered the fray in place of Searle – and former London Irish man’s first action in a Bristol shirt was to fire over a penalty from 30 metres after Bath had infringed at scrum time.
The host’s reply was instantaneous and a surging break from Guy Mercer took play into the Bristol 22, as the number eight returned a long kick down field with interest.
A Banahan charge took Bath to within inches of the line, but their momentum was halted illegally and Priestland obliged from under the posts for 15-6.
Jack Tovey was then sent to the sin-bin by referee David Wilkinson after being deemed to have tackled the man without the ball – and replacement Shane Geraghty followed suit for an alleged no-arm tackle on Aled Brew to leave Bristol down to 13-men.
Tovey returned to the field with two minutes remaining - but with the final play, Matt Banahan raced home from 60 metres to seal the game for Bath, while Priestland’s conversion condemned Bristol to a 22-6 defeat.
Bristol Rugby: Jordan Williams; Ryan Edwards, Jack Tovey, Will Hurrell, Tom Varndell (Wallace 70); Billy Searle (Geraghty 52), Will Cliff (Uren 71); Kyle Traynor (O’Connell 75), Chris Brooker (54), Anthony Perenise (Hall 67), Ian Evans, James Phillips (Nemsadze 67), Mitch Eadie, Jon Fisher (Robinson 65), Jordan Crane (c).
Replacements: Rob Hawkins, Jack O’Connell, James Hall, Giorgi Nemsadze, Olly Robinson, Andy Uren, Shane Geraghty, Jack Wallace.
Bath Rugby: Tom Homer, Jeff Williams, Jonathan Joseph, Matt Banahan, Aled Brew, Rhys Priestland, Will Homer; Nick Auterac, Michael van Vuuren (Dunn 52), Max Lahiff (Palma-Newport 58), Luke Charteris (Stooke 59), Charlie Ewels, Matt Garvey (co-capt.), Guy Mercer (co-capt.), Zach Mercer (Houston 75).
Replacements: Tom Dunn, Shaun Knight, Kane Palma-Newport, Elliott Stooke, Leroy Houston, Dan Bowden, Adam Hastings, Semesa Rokoduguni.