GALLERY: Bristol Rugby 12-11 Bath Rugby
Posted: Sunday, February 26th 2017
Sunday, February 26th 2017
Sunday, February 26th 2017
Aviva Premiership Rugby
|Henson (3)||Penalties||Priestland (2)|
Venue: Ashton Gate
Ref: Greg Garner
Gavin Henson marked his first start in four months with a man of the match performance as Bristol Rugby battled to a memorable derby victory over Bath at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
The fly half kicked three penalties and a drop goal to finish with a 12-point haul as Bristol held off a late Bath surge - inspired by Semesa Rokoduguni's 69th minute try - to record a win of huge importance in front of a bumper Ashton Gate crowd.
Will Hurrell’s last-gasp covering tackle three minutes in prevented Bristol from making a painfully familiar start at a jam-packed Ashton Gate, as the centre cut down Bath wing Harry Davies just metres short after the hosts had been caught cold early on.
Hurrell was straight back into the action, carrying powerfully through the middle after Evans had nipped in front of Charlie Ewels at the lineout. It didn’t halt the visitors’ momentum but Todd Blackadder’s team were lacking killer instinct and this time it was Ben Tapuai who failed to finish after Davies’ neat footwork had carved an opening.
The home side held firm and soon rallied, with Piutau and Hurrell linking well in midfield once again and Henson’s trusty boot pinning Bath back inside their own half.
POWER: Will Hurrell carries powerfully through the midfield (Photo: JMP UK).
It was courtesy of Henson’s boot that Bristol opened the scoring as the returning fly half fired over an opportunistic drop-goal on 13 minutes after Hurrell’s midfield bust almost created an opening.
Rhys Priestland levelled the scores on 18 minutes after Bristol were pinged at the breakdown, before Henson’s second drop-goal attempt – from all of 45 metres – had the legs but not the line.
The fly half’s next effort, this time a penalty, went the same way as Mark Tainton’s side pushed to extend their slim advantage. They did just that with the final action of the first half as Henson fired over a monster penalty from the angle to give Bristol a six-point lead at the break.
STRIKE: Gavin Henson lands a drop-goal during a fiery first half at Ashton Gate (Photo: JMP UK).
Bath came charging back and Bristol were afforded another let-off when a moment of déjà vu saw Harry Davies cut down metres short again after quick ball in the wider channels created another Bath opening.
Bristol worked their way back upfield and Gavin Henson’s step and offload found hooker Marc Jones in space inside the Bath 22, but his offload - to the onrushing Lemi - was spilt by the winger.
Priestland narrowed the gap with a second penalty on 59 minutes before Bath scored the afternoon’s opening try, as Rokodoguni picked off Tusi Pisi’s loose pass to canter in from 50 metres and set up a nervy finish. The score though, went unconverted as Priestland’s effort faded across the face of the posts leaving Bristol to defend a one-point lead in the final ten minutes.
The closing stages were frantic and understandably cagey given what was at stake, but Bristol, orchestrated by the outstanding Alby Mathewson and man of the match Gavin Henson, kept their cool. As the clock ticked into the red, Mathewson fired the ball into the Lansdown Stand to spark jubilant celebrations and seal a victory of the utmost importance.
Semesa Rokodoguni's 69th minute interception try could have seen Bath take a 13-12 lead heading into the final ten minutes - but Priestland's conversion faded across the face of the posts to leave Bristol with ten minutes to hold on for victory.
JUBILATION: Will Hurrell and Jack Lam celebrate at the final whistle (Photo: JMP UK).
The evergreen fly half marked his return to the starting line-up with a performance full of control, guile and class. Henson kicked three penalties - including a monster effort on the stroke of half time - as well as a smartly taken drop goal to fire Bristol to a memorable win.
Bristol Rugby: Jason Woodward, David Lemi, Will Hurrell, Siale Piutau, Tom Varndell (J Williams 14 (Pisi 49)) ; Gavin Henson, Alby Mathewson; Ryan Bevington (O’Connell 70), Marc Jones (Crumpton 63), Anthony Perenise (Ford-Robinson 51), Dan Tuohy, Ian Evans (Jeffries 56), Mitch Eadie, Jack Lam (Fenton-Wells 74), Jordan Crane (c).
Replacements: Max Crumpton, Jack O’Connell, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Sam Jeffries, Nick Fenton-Wells, Rhodri Williams, Tusi Pisi, Jordan Williams.
Bath Rugby: Tom Homer, Semesa Rokoduguni, Jonathan Joseph, Ben Tapuai, Harry Davies, Rhys Priestland (co-capt), Chris Cook; Beno Obano, Ross Batty, Max Lahiff, Elliott Stooke, Charlie Ewels (co-capt), Tom Ellis, David Denton, Paul Grant.
Replacements: Michael van Vuuren, Darryl Marfo, Kane Palma-Newport, Levi Douglas, Guy Mercer, Will Homer, Adam Hastings, Max Clark.