Team Bath left to rue self-inflicted wounds as they suffer BUCS Super Rugby derby defeat to Hartpury in Melksham
It was a frustrating wet Wednesday evening in Melksham for the Team Bath men’s 1st XV as they succumbed to a 31-12 BUCS Super Rugby defeat against local rivals Hartpury,
The Blue & Gold – sponsored by Fulkers Bailey Russell – gifted Hartpury two of their three first-half tries, the visitors ruthlessly capitalising on an interception and a charge-down as they opened up a 24-5 lead.
The second half of a bruising encounter – played at Melksham RFC’s impressive Oakfields home – was much more even, with the teams scoring one converted try apiece, but the damage had been done as Hartpury deservedly went home with a bonus-point victory.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “Conceding tries to an intercept and charge-down put us on the back foot and left us chasing the game, which was disappointing.
“Hartpury are a strong side who put you under pressure but in terms of physicality there were times when we were very good. We just lacked a bit of edge and didn’t use the width as well as we can, we got caught up in a carry battle.”
Team Bath found themselves under some intense pressure from the kick-off but defended resolutely to keep Hartpury at bay and clear their lines, only to immediately concede a cheap penalty which Hartpury fly-half Nathan Chamberlain was able to slot over from the halfway line.
It was the home side’s turn to enjoy the bulk of possession for the next ten minutes but they were unable to make much progress into the Hartpury half and, while trying to spread the play, had a pass intercepted by centre Robbie Smith who was able to race through for the opening try. Chamberlain’s conversion put the visitors 10-0 up.
Hartpury hooker Bertie Stretch also showed an impressive turn of pace as he sliced through the Bath defence to touch down just before the half-hour mark, Chamberlain again adding the extras.
Team Bath then lost scrum-half Benn Morris to injury following a late tackle but did manage to get on the scoresheet as the resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and lock Edoardo Balocco bulldozed over from the lineout drive.
Tom Pittman, who was moved from centre to cover for Morris, pulled the conversion wide and then, moments later, had a clearing kick charged down at the other end by Stephen Varney who pounced on the loose ball to notch Hartpury’s fourth try. Chamberlain’s conversion left Bath trailing 24-5 at half-time.
That gap grew bigger three minutes after the break as Hartpury prop Mitch Walsh powered over under the posts to leave Chamberlain with a simple conversion.
Team Bath kept plugging away in worsening conditions, despite losing more players to injury and having to use players out of position, and were eventually rewarded with ten minutes remaining. As with their first try, it came from a lineout rolling maul which ended with Chris Barry burrowing over and Pittman kicking the extras.
A brilliant last-ditch tackle from winger Cal Barrett prevented replacement Aiden Burnett grabbing a fifth try for Hartpury as the final score remained 31-12.
Next up for Team Bath, who are also supported by Rengen, is a visit to Leeds Beckett on Wednesday, October 30.
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Ethan Hutt, 14 Cal Barrett, 13 Alex Nisbet, 12 Tom Pittman, 11 Alex Varney, 10 Benn Morris, 9 Ed Rimmer (c); 1 Tom Rowland, 2 Jordi Den Hartog, 3 Simone Elrick, 4 Cameron Keys, 5 Edoardo Balocco, 6 Gwilym Bradley, 7 Chris Barry, 8 Jack Kenningham. Replacements: 16 Rory Mead, 17 Will French, 18 Arthur Cordwell, 19 John Smith, 20 Tom Williams, 21 Jacob Tansey, 22 Alex Smith, 23 Paul Altier.
Tries: Balocco, Barry.
Hartpury starting XV: 15 Jack Johnson, 14 Ervin Muric, 13 Robbie Smith, 12 Dan Cole, 11 Alex Forrester, 10 Nathan Chamberlain, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Harry Fry, 2 Bertie Stretch, 3 Mitch Walsh, 4 Tom Everard, 5 Angus Southon, 6 Vince Everritt, 7 Will Hopwood, 8 Harry Wilson. Replacements: 16 Morgan Hughes, 17 Jordon Liney, 18 Nick English, 19 Ben Kellend, 20 Aiden Burnett, 21 Jack Combes, 22 Sam Brooke, 23 Cole Swannack.
Tries: Smith, Stretch, Varney, Walsh.
Conversions: Chamberlain 4.
Referee: Nick Wood.
Assistant referee: Steve Hambley, Fred Spong.
Fourth official: James Maby.