Team Bath run in magnificent seven tries to make amends for BUCS Super Rugby defeat at Cardiff University
The Fulkers-sponsored Blue & Gold, who are also supported by MJ Church, had lost 28-24 when the two teams met at the end of January and led by just one point after an evenly-matched first half.
However, Team Bath were determined to make amends for their disappointing result in the Welsh capital and cranked up the pressure in the second period as they stormed to an ultimately convincing victory, lifting them up to third in the table with three games remaining.
Captain Tom Doughty, who scored two of Team Bath’s tries, said: “I am immensely proud of the boys. We owed it to ourselves and all watching tonight to get a result after losing to Cardiff a couple of weeks ago.
“We said before the game that we didn’t just want to win, we wanted to make a statement and we did that. The game opened up a bit in the second half and we trusted our ball skills.”
Backs coach Louis Messer added: “We’re very happy with the second half. We didn’t play how we wanted to in the first but once we got hold of the ball and thought about how to use the space, the scoreline in the second half shows that we can play some really good rugby.”
Just one change was made to the Team Bath XV that started last week’s impressive 23-7 win at fellow high-fliers Cardiff Met, with George Wootten coming in at scrum-half.
Team Bath bossed the early stages, quickly setting up camp in the Cardiff 22, but a loose pass out wide was intercepted by visiting full-back Owen Williams who raced the length of the pitch to open the scoring. He was unable to add the extras from a tight angle.
The home side shrugged off that setback and cut the gap with a Will Partington penalty from just inside the Cardiff half before taking the lead in the 14th minute.
They forced a series of mauls on the visitors’ line before spreading play wide. Again a Cardiff player got a finger to the ball but this time couldn’t intercept and Hugo Stiles was on hand to cut through and touch down, leaving Partington with a simple conversion.
An injury to Cardiff hooker Ben Edwards delayed play for ten minutes while he received treatment for a knee injury before being stretchered off – all at Team Bath wish him a speedy recovery.
When the game resumed, Team Bath extended their lead with a Partington penalty from in front of the posts but a knock-on from the subsequent restart gave Cardiff an attacking scrum and they took full advantage, fly-half James Davies accelerating through a gap in the home defence to finish a well-worked move.
Williams’ conversion meant that Team Bath’s lead was cut to 13-12 going into half-time but they set the tone for the second period when Jack Davies made a half break before flicking the ball inside for number eight Jack Kenningham to power under the posts, leaving Partington with a simple conversion.
Cardiff were now coming under increasing pressure and when flanker Luke Waller was yellow-carded, Team Bath opted to kick the subsequent penalty to touch rather than go for goal. Their positive intent was rewarded when captain Doughty scored from the lineout drive, Partington again adding the extras.
The hosts were now well in command and secured the bonus point in style as a fantastic offload from Alex Nisbet allowed Will Hughes – on as a replacement for the injured Stiles – to slice through the Cardiff line before teeing up flying winger Ethan Hutt to touch down.
Cardiff were reduced to 13 men when centre Rhodri Wall was sin-binned for blocking a quick tap penalty and again Team Bath took full advantage, Doughty driving over for his second try. Partington’s excellent conversion from the touchline saw the hosts increase their lead to 39-12 with an hour on the clock.
Team Bath took the chance to make wholesale changes to the team but lost replacement Ed Rimmer to the bin for ten minutes and conceded a try while down to 14 men as Williams went over for his second of the game.
That was the only blemish of the second half, though, and Team Bath finished the game strongly with two tries in the last two minutes. First Partington collected his own chip to score under the posts, then Chris Barry powered over for his second try in as many weeks.
Partington converted both tries to take his personal points tally for the game to 23.
Up next for Team Bath is a trip to Kingston Park on Friday, February 22 to a Northumbria side that won 29-23 at the Sports Training Village in the opening match of the season (7pm).
The final home game of the league campaign is against Loughborough on Wednesday, March 13 – kick-off is 6.30pm and admission is free. Click here to see the full fixture list.
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Will Partington, 14 Ethan Hutt, 13 Alex Nisbet, 12 Will Butt, 11 Brandon Bellamin, 10 Hugo Stiles, 9 George Wootten; 1 Arthur Cordwell, 2 Tom Doughty (c), 3 Austin Hay, 4 Angus Hinton, 5 Adam Thresher, 6 Jack Davies, 7 Chris Barry, 8 Jack Kenningham. Replacements: 16 Sam Ngeng, 16 Jake Buckingham, 18 Simone Ngeng, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 James Catlin, 21 Ed Rimmer, 22 Will Hughes, 23 Finn Murphy.
Tries: Stiles, Kenningham, Doughty 2, Hutt, Partington, Barry.
Conversions: Partington 6.
Penalties: Partington 2.
Cardiff University starting XV: 15 Owen Williams, 14 Marcus Ramage, 13 Rhodri Wall, 12 Charlie Dyde, 11 Alex Varney, 10 James Davies, 9 Owen Davies; 1 Cary Davies, 2 Ben Edwards, 3 Freddie Barnes, 4 Charlie Stonehill, 5 Luke Waller, 6 Tom Wilson, 7 Greg Ramage, 8 Alex Everett. Replacements: 16 James Jennings, 17 Ed Thompson, 18 Dave Fellows, 19 Jake O’Leary, 20 Seb Herold, 21 Josh Oakley, 22 Huw Roberts, 23 Adam Sabri.
Tries: Williams 2, J Davies.
Referee: George Selwood.
Assistant referees: Stephen Ward, Astie Bolton.
Fourth official: James Maby.