- Gallagher Premiership
- Saturday, April 6th 2019
Will Carpenter reports from Twickenham
Report: Bath Rugby 26-19 Bristol Bears
Saturday, April 6th 2019
Dan Thomas’ 71st-minute try earned Bristol Bears a losing bonus-point at Twickenham, but it was Bath Rugby who took the derby spoils in front of more than 60,000 supporters at The Clash.
First-half tries from Jonathan Joseph, Jamie Roberts and Joe Cokanasiga gave Todd Blackadder’s side the perfect start at HQ, but four penalties from the boot of Callum Sheedy kept Bristol in the contest at the break.
Rhys Priestland hacked ahead to touch down midway through the second half and extend the Bath advantage, before Thomas rounded off a sweeping Bristol move to fly over in the corner, with Ian Madigan’s touchline conversion earning his side a losing bonus-point.
Pat Lam’s side threatened to strike again as Sheedy broke from deep in the closing stages, but Bath held on to record a seven-point win and avenge August’s defeat at Ashton Gate.
Bristol found themselves behind the eight-ball from the third minute, when Joseph collected Priestland’s pass to stretch over in the corner for the opening score.
Luke Morahan thought he’d hit back with immediate effect after slithering clear and haring after his neat kick along the touchline, but Zach Mercer won the race to the ball to deny the Australian.
Bristol got themselves on the scoreboard with Sheedy’s opening penalty on eight minutes, but their task was soon made tougher, when Joseph turned provider for midfield partner, Jamie Roberts, sliding through a beautiful grubber kick for the Welsh centre to finish off.
England wing, Cokanasiga burrowed his way to the whitewash for Bath’s third after another strong carry from Roberts, as Bath took full control of the derby midway through the first-half.
Bristol soon steadied the ship and Sheedy’s second penalty came after a prolonged period of pressure inside the Bath 22.
The fly half repeated the feat four minutes later to reduce the deficit further, while his fourth successful kick of the half, on the stroke of half-time, made it a seven-point game at the interval.
The second half was a far cagier affair, with both aides trading blows in-between the two 22s. Priestland almost manufactured his side’s fourth score 12 minutes in, gliding through a hole in the Bristol defence before floating an inch-perfect pass to the onrushing Max Clark, who was halted by a heroic covering tackle from Piers O’Conor.
Priestland then saw his simple penalty strike the woodwork from bang in front of the posts, but he soon made amends with the bonus-point score on 56 minutes, fly-hacking a loose ball and winning the race to touch down.
The Welshman landed the conversion to give Bath a 14-point buffer, but it was his compatriot who gave Bristol a lifeline nine minutes from time, as Leiua freed up Thomas to tip-toe along the touchline and score in the left-hand corner.
Madigan’s conversion put Bristol within losing bonus-point range, but Pat Lam’s side were chasing more in the closing stages, and a scintillating break from Callum Sheedy almost fashioned a second try in as many minutes as Bristol battered away at an unyielding Bath defence.
The visitors almost saw their losing bonus-point wiped out, only for Priestland’s drop goal to fade wide of the target – but it was left to Roberts to put an end to proceedings, booting the ball deep into the West Stand to clinch a bonus-point win for Bath.
Teams and scorers:
Bath Rugby: Tries: Joseph 3, Roberts 10, Cokanasiga 23, Priestland 56. Cons: Priestland 3, 23, 56
Bristol Bears: Tries: D Thomas 71. Cons: Madigan 71. Pens: Sheedy 8, 31, 35, 39
Bristol Bears: Daniels (Pisi 24); Morahan (Madigan 47), O’Conor, S Piutau (cc), Leiua; Sheedy, Randall (Uren 61); Woolmore (Lay 53), Thacker (Fenton-Wells 75), Afoa, Holmes (Smith 53), Vui, Luatua, D Thomas, Crane (cc) (Lam 40). Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Ja Lay, Thiede, Lam, Smith, Uren, Madigan, Pisi.
Bath Rugby: Homer, Cokanasiga (Clark 40), Joseph, Roberts, McConnochie, Priestland, Fotuali’I; Catt, Dunn, Lahiff, Attwood, Ewels (c), Ellis, Underhill, Mercer. Replacements: Batty, Obano, Perenise, Stooke, Reid, Cook, Burns, Clark.
A poor start from Bristol was vastly improved by four penalties from Callum Sheedy, as Pat Lam's side manufactured a route back into the contest.
But after a steady start to the second-half, Rhys Priestland's 56th-minute score, hacking at a loose ball and sprinting ahead to touch down, proved decisive at Twickenham.
Man of the match: Harry Thacker
Thacker put in an impressive shift at HQ, bouncing around in the loose with a series of dynamic carries and neat touches on the ball.
The hooker carried powerfully, as Bristol unleashed him from the lineout on numerous occasions, and almost created an opening midway through the second-half, only for Joseph to cling on ten metres out.
Photo of the match:
- Cokanasiga, Joseph, Roberts, Priestland
- Priestland (3)
- Yellow Cards:
- Sheedy (4)
- Yellow Cards: