Last-gasp winner completes terrific turnaround by Team Bath men’s 1st XV in 12-try BUCS Super Rugby thriller against Cardiff
The Rengen-sponsored men’s 1st XV found themselves 26-7 down after 20 minutes but cut the gap to five points by half-time. They then levelled twice in the latter stages of the second period, one of the tries completing a hat-trick for Alfie Garside, only for Cardiff to immediately restore their lead both times.
However, the home side held their nerve in the closing moments as a George Worboys penalty put them within touching distance of victory before fellow replacement Wootten grabbed it with a brilliant last-move try, Worboys’ conversion making the final score 43-40 to Team Bath.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath (pictured top), said: “We’re pleased to win and with the character we showed to come back but it’s shaded with disappointment because we were really poor to start with and there were bits we really have to learn from.
“The character of the boys was outstanding. It’s been a really tough week with availability – some of the guys have got exams tomorrow and Friday – so it’s been hard to get everyone out on the pitch but we’ll take the win, and a bonus-point win at that.”
Team Bath were playing their first match of 2022 but it was a second for Cardiff, who were 39-0 winners at Northumbria last Friday and carried that form into a confident start to the game as they bagged three tries in the opening 14 minutes through Ben Chapman, Ed Dunford and Rhydian Williams.
All were converted by Dunford to give the visitors a 19-0 lead but a knock-on from the restart after the third try gave Team Bath a scrum in the Cardiff 22 and their first attacking platform of the match, which they used to the full to swiftly move the ball across the pitch and send winger Garside over in the corner. Luca Mignot converted.
The hosts immediately invited pressure on themselves again, though, as they failed to find touch with a clearing kick and Cardiff were able to launch another sortie which ended with hooker Chapman going over for his second and the visitors’ bonus-point try with just 20 minutes played.
Team Bath cleared their heads and fought back well during the remainder of the first half, applying relentless pressure on the Cardiff line. It paid off twice, first on the half-hour mark when the referee awarded a penalty try and then on the stroke of half-time as Garside cut a great line through a tight defence to touch down. Mignot’s conversion cut the deficit to 26-21 at the interval.
After an action-packed first half, it was perhaps no surprise that the second period was tight and tense before exploding into life again with four tries in ten minutes.
Bath Rugby Academy fly-half Worboys, a late addition to the match-day squad, got the first after making a brilliant break and shimmying past the last defender before touching down to level the scores.
However, he missed the kick and instead Team Bath instantly found themselves behind again when Cardiff replacement Gwilym Evans went over at the other end and Elliot Hayden added the conversion.
Back came Team Bath as another burst of pace by Garside sent the winger over for his hat-trick try, Worboys’ conversion again levelling the scores, but the momentum swung back in Cardiff’s favour once again as James Roberts broke through for the visitors’ sixth try, again converted by Hayden.
Team Bath produced some intelligent match-play in the closing stages, though, to control proceedings. A Worboys penalty closed the gap to 40-36 with three minutes remaining, then they retained possession from the restart to brilliant work the opening they were looking for as a fantastic break and offload from Elliot Powell set up fellow replacement Wootten for the decisive try.
Worboys’ conversion put the icing on the cake for Team Bath, who now face the league’s top two teams in quick succession. First up is a trip down the M5 to face Exeter on Wednesday 2nd February (2pm) before they return to the Sports Training Village on Wednesday 9th to face Durham (6.30pm, free to watch).
Team Bath starting XV: 1 George Cave (cc), 2 Jasper Spandler, 3 Josh Cilia, 4 Ed Ashcroft (cc), 5 Tom Berry, 6 Ted Johnson, 7 Xavier Hastings, 8 Harry Breeze; 9 Tom Carr-Smith, 10 Bevan Howells, 11 Alfie Garside, 12 Alex Clayton, 13 Rahul Patel, 14 Iwan Price Thomas, 15 Luca Mignot. Replacements: 16 John Taylor, 17 Harry Sturge, 18 Archie Maggs, 19 Elliot Powell, 20 George Wootten, 21 Rhys Thomas, 22 Harry Lightfoot, 23 George Worboys.
Tries: Garside 3, penalty, Worboys, Wootten.
Conversions: Mignot 2, Worboys 2.
Cardiff starting XV: 1 Ed Thompson, 2 Ben Chapman, 3 Connor Woods, 4 Griff Evans, 5 Ben Roberts, 6 James Roberts, 7 Greg Rammage, 8 Benji Hoppe; 9 Mikel Evans, 10 Ed Dunford, 11 Jake Thomas, 12 Jamie Hoyes, 13 Luke Pollack, 14 Rhydian Williams, 15 Elliot Hayden. Replacements: 16 Lewys Williams, 17 James Pollard, 18 Freddie Barnes, 19 Ethan Phillips, 20 Gwilym Evans, 21 Dai Jones, 22 Felix Gilbert, 23 Cameron Scott.
Tries: Chapman 2, Dunford, Williams, G Evans, Roberts.
Conversions: Dunford 3, Hayden 2.
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe.
Assistant referees: Dave Philpott, Iain Kiy.