Plenty of pride and positives in defeat as Team Bath are denied at the death by Exeter in pulsating BUCS Super Rugby derby
The Rengen-sponsored men’s 1st XV were leading 26-17 going into the final three minutes thanks to a hat-trick of tries from man of the match George Worboys, one from Duncan Hood and outstanding performances right across the pitch.
However, they weren’t quite able to see out the win as the visitors touched down twice, the second try coming from the last move of the match, to snatch a 29-26 victory and go top of the table.
Team Bath had two bonus points to show for their efforts and Head of Rugby Aaron James said: “I can’t be more pleased with a loss, if that makes sense. The boys were outstanding in defence and the way we attacked and scored our tries. That’s made the result even harder to take but we’ve shown what we can do. When you have that belief, effort and work-rate, there is plenty to build on as a coach and a group.”
Bath Rugby Academy player Worboys added: “The boys were on fire and it was a hell of a game. Our scramble on the line was unreal but it just came down to those little things that can catch you out.”
A cracking contest was streamed live on YouTube and enjoyed by nearly 700 spectators at the Sports Training Village, including representatives of HALO Hydration, Team Bath’s Official Hydration Partner.
Exeter went into the match as joint league leaders but Team Bath matched up to them well, stealing the first couple of visiting lineouts and defending resolutely to thwart some early pressure on their try-line.
A fantastic interception and break from Rahul Patel then put the hosts on the front foot, with his offload to Alfie Garside sending the winger racing towards the corner but opposite number Kofi Barton-Byfield produced a brilliant tackle to stop him just short.
However, Team Bath maintained the pressure from the resulting lineout and were rewarded when Worboys collected a pass from England U20 international Tom Carr-Smith and surged through for an excellent opening try, which he converted himself.
More tenacious defending prevented Exeter responding immediately but they were finally able to get back on level terms just before the half-hour mark, lock Dafydd Jenkins burrowing over from close range and Josh Barton converting.
Exeter were cranking up the pressure but it was Team Bath who regained the lead, Ivor Powell Sporting Scholar Worboys producing another superb interception and racing from the halfway line to notch his second try of the game.
The home side conceded a cheap penalty from the restart, though, and Exeter utilised their powerful set scrum to level the scores through Number 8 Archie Hosking before Barton’s conversion edged the visitors into a 14-12 interval lead.
A yellow card for replacement prop Matt Mason just before the break meant that Team Bath began the second half a man down but they retained possession superbly and took the lead again in brilliant fashion, Carr-Smith producing a wonderful one-handed reverse offload for hooker Hood to dive over for his fourth try of the season.
Worboys’ conversion was good and he was on target again a couple of minutes later after completing his hat-trick following another excellent team move, Ted Johnson producing an incisive break and offloading to Alex Clayton whose smart inside pass sent the scrum-half racing over for a third time.
Exeter notched their first points of the half through a Barton penalty but were unable to take advantage of some promising passages of play as Team Bath produced two fantastic turnovers in their 22 and it needed a big tackle under the posts at the other end to stop Sam Mercer increasing the hosts’ lead.
However, with the game entering the dying stages, Exeter upped the pressure once again and, with Team Bath flanker Cam Keys in the sin-bin, they closed the gap to four points as Arthur Relton touched down.
A pass into touch as Exeter tried to force the play gave Team Bath a lineout with 30 seconds left on the clock but they were unable to kill the game as the visitors regained possession and replacement Tom Addison burst through to score the winning try, Barton’s conversion the last action of the game.
Team Bath now have a fortnight’s break before their next BUCS Super Rugby match at Cardiff Met on Wednesday 17th November. They then have three successive home games at the Sports Training Village against Northumbria (24th November), Leeds Beckett (1st December) and Loughborough (8th December) – all kick-off at 6.30pm and entry is free to spectators.
Team Bath starting XV: 1 Archie Stanley, 2 Duncan Hood, 3 Josh Cilia, 4 Elliott Powell, 5 Tom Black, 6 Cam Keys, 7 Tom Williams (c), 8 Ted Johnson; 9 Tom Carr-Smith, 10 George Worboys, 11 Alfie Garside, 12 Alex Clayton, 13 Rahul Patel, 14 Cal Barrett, 15 Luca Mignot. Replacements: 16 John Taylor, 17 George Cave, 18 Matt Mason, 19 Erik Bryant, 20 Lachie McGrigor, 21 George Wootten, 22 Will Kennaugh, 23 Sam Mercer.
Tries: Worboys 3, Hood.
Conversions: Worboys 3.
Exeter starting XV: 1 Jacob Morris, 2 Scott Butterworth, 3 Archie Owlett, 4 Dafydd Jenkins, 5 Matt Cook, 6 Arthur Thomas, 7 Olly White (c), 8 Archie Hosking; 9 Will Yarnell, 10 Josh Barton, 11 Kofi Barton-Byfield, 12 Tom Hitchcock, 13 Charlie McCaig, 14 Eddie Bullock, 15 Arthur Relton. Replacements: 16 Luke Bury, 17 Jared Williams, 18 Findley Richardson, 19 Tom Addison, 20 Cameron Bullard, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Alex Lloyd-Seed, 23 Jack Potter.
Tries: Jenkins, Hosking, Relton, Addison.
Conversions: Barton 3.
Referee: Charlie Gayther.
Assistant referees: Fred Spong, Brian Ravenhill.