Eight-try Team Bath provide plenty of Anniversary Game cheer for 6,500-strong crowd at a raucous Rec
Iestyn Lewis, CEO of match sponsors and Team Bath partners Rengen, presented co-captains Jordan Martin and Ed Rimmer with the victors’ trophy after a fantastic performance by the home side in the University’s showpiece match.
Team Bath’s pack was totally dominant throughout as front-row players contributed five of their eight tries, including a first-half hat-trick for hooker and player of the match Jordi den Hartog.
Props Tom Rowland and Simone Elrick, Academy players with Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby respectively, were also on the scoresheet and centre Alex Nisbet barged over late on before Rimmer scored the try of the game as the home side sent the fantastic four-figure crowd home with big smiles.
Head of Rugby Aaron James: “It was a great win – I’m pleased for the boys, the staff, the University and the supporters. A lot of effort has gone into staging tonight from all involved and I’m delighted we could reward that with a 52-point win. Thank you to everyone who came along to back us.”
Rimmer added: “That’s what we have been building towards. We knew we had that performance in us and that’s what we can do when we keep hold of the ball and are ruthless.”
Martin said: “Everything clicked tonight. We had a powerful lineout, a powerful scrum and we couldn’t ask for any more from the boys.”
The big crowd was still streaming into the ground when Cardiff took the lead with less than two minutes on the clock, the ball being moved wide to the right where winger George Thomas showed a good turn of pace to go over. Ed Dunford added the conversion.
Team Bath’s response was to spend the next four minutes camped on the Cardiff try-line and their unrelenting pressure eventually paid off when prop Rowland was able to burrow over.
A drop-goal from Dunford gave Cardiff a 10-5 lead but again the home team hit back immediately, unleashing their trademark line-out drive to push hooker den Hartog over from close range. Benn Morris added the conversion to put Team Bath 12-10 up – and all with just 11 minutes on the clock.
The rolling maul was used to devastating effect once again in front of the packed sponsors’ boxes in the 22nd minute as den Hartog barged over for his second try.
Morris kicked an excellent conversion from the touchline but the lead was quickly cut to six points as Dunford slotted over the first penalty of the game.
A lengthy injury delay saw Cardiff winger Marcus Ramage receive treatment on the pitch. Fortunately he was eventually able to walk back to the dressing room as he was replaced by Tudor Forbes.
The Team Bath pack were now completely dominant and, after winning four successive penalties from the scrum, they eventually went to the corner again – setting up den Hartog to complete his hat-trick of tries, secure the bonus point and make it 24-13 at the interval.
Cardiff made three changes to their pack for the second half but still had no answer to Team Bath’s dominance and, following several infringements which included a yellow card for replacement Jack Holford, the home side were awarded a penalty try.
The visitors were being pinned back in their own 22 but speedy winger Thomas provided the perfect outlet in the 54th minute, racing the length of the pitch to score his second try of the game in fine style.
Team Bath took the opportunity to make some changes on the hour mark, with hard-working props Rowland and Will French being replaced by Bath Rugby Academy duo Arthur Cordwell and Simone Elrick – the latter barging over for a try within minutes of his arrival, Morris again adding the conversion.
The backs got in on the act in the closing minutes as first centre Nisbet dived over from close range following an overthrown Cardiff lineout. Then came the try of the evening as winger Luca Mignot sliced through the visiting defence before slipping the pass to Nisbet, whose offload sent co-captain Rimmer over for a fantastic final flourish. Cameron Lewis scored for the visitors and Dunford’s conversion made the final score 52-25.
Team Bath – sponsored by Fulkers Bailey Russell – play their next ‘home match’ against local rivals and three-times champions Hartpury in Melksham [whilst waiting on restoration of their Sports Training Village pitch] on Wednesday, October 23. Kick-off is 6.30pm and admission is free.
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Ethan Hutt, 14 Luca Mignot, 13 Alex Nisbet, 12 Tom Pittman, 11 Alex Varney, 10 Benn Morris, 9 Ed Rimmer (cc); 1 Tom Rowland, 2 Jordi den Hartog, 3 Will French, 4 Jordan Martin (cc), 5 Edoardo Balocco, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Chris Barry, 8 Ed Ashcroft. Replacements: 16 Rory Mead, 17 Simone Elrick, 18 Arthur Cordwell, 19 Gwilym Bradley, 20 Cameron Keys, 21 George Wootten, 22 Alex Smith, 23 Cal Barrett.
Tries: Rowland, den Hartog 3, penalty, Elrick, Nisbet, Rimmer.
Conversions: Morris 6.
Cardiff starting XV: 15 Luke Shore, 14 George Thomas, 13 Huw Roberts, 12 Charlie Dyde, 11 Marcus Ramage, 10 Ed Dunford, 9 Dai Jones; 1 Ed Thompson, 2 Ben Edwards, 3 Jesse Outlaw, 4 Charlie Stonehill, 5 Griff Evans, 6 Ellis Thomas, 7 Lloyd Pike, 8 Greg Ramage. Replacements: 16 Sam Starks, 17 Cameron Lewis, 18 Mark Mullihan, 19 Jack Holford, 20 Rory Sloan, 21 Josh Oakley, 22 Aled Evans, 23 Tudor Forbes.
Tries: Thomas 2, Lewis.
Conversions: Dunford 2.
Drop goal: Dunford.
Referee: Ieuan Davies.
Assistant referees: Lloyd Davies, Steve Hambley.
Fourth official: James Maby.