Huge crowd roars Team Bath to outstanding win over Durham on memorable return to The Rec for Rengen-sponsored Anniversary Game
Team Bath treated a nearly 6,000-strong crowd at The Rec to one of their best-ever BUCS Super Rugby performances as they stormed to a 40-13 victory over reigning champions Durham in the Rengen-sponsored Anniversary Game.
The men’s 1st XV were in outstanding form throughout, feeding off the energy of a vocal crowd to dominate for much of the 80 minutes and run in five tries through Ludo Kolade, Jasper Spandler, George Doel, Archie Griffin and Mackenzie Graham.
Sam Harris was also in fantastic form with the boot, kicking three penalties and three conversions as Team Bath secured victory in the University of Bath’s student-sport showpiece for the third successive occasion.
Iestyn Lewis, CEO and founder of match sponsors Rengen, presented the winners’ trophy to co-captains Tom Williams and Alfie Garside in front of a packed Tribute Stand.
“We’re absolutely buzzing, the support tonight was incredible and we want to thank everyone for coming along,” said Williams. “We put in a shift on the pitch and I can’t fault any of the boys’ efforts, it was outstanding.”
Garside added: “I honestly don’t think there is a better experience at the University of Bath than what has just happened tonight. It’s one of the best days I’ve had in my life and I’m sure it was for the other boys too.”
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “I’d like to thank everyone for that win and that celebration. The work that [forwards coach] Mark Lilley and [backs coach] Ryan Davies did during the week was outstanding, and we’re pleased to get that kind of result in front of an amazing crowd on an amazing occasion.”
Watch the match in full here:
Team Bath, sponsored by Bath Building Society, ran out to a huge roar from the vocal crowd and immediately gave them another reason to cheer, Sam Harris slotting over a penalty inside the opening two minutes only for Will Nicholson to reply in kind moments later.
The home side were very much on the front foot, though, and deservedly regained the lead in the 16th minute through another penalty from Harris, one of 10 Bath Rugby Academy players in the Team Bath matchday 23.
They then notched the first try in fine style five minutes later as a, from a lineout in the Durham 22, Harlequins Academy centre Ludo Kolade collected a pass and stepped inside a defender before rolling over the line.
Harris’ kick was again successful and he confidently added another penalty from distance just after the half-hour mark as Team Bath went 16-3 up.
An almost flawless first half was capped in the 39th minute when Team Bath unleashed their lineout drive to fantastic effect as England U20 hooker Jasper Spandler touched down for his fifth try of the season, giving the hosts a 21-3 advantage at the break.
With both sets of players wearing rainbow laces on National Rainbow Laces Day, the second half got under way with Team Bath picking up where they had left off before the interval. A brilliant kick to touch from Harris put them back in the Durham 22 and Number 8 George Doel produced an incisive line break to carve through for their third try, leaving a simple conversion.
Durham had hardly featured as an attacking force all evening but got their first try of the evening soon after as scrum-half Max Pepper peeled off a scrum in the Team Bath 22 to run over unopposed.
Team Bath didn’t let that knock them out of their stride, though, and they secured a bonus point on the hour when a sustained period of pressure on the Durham line ended with prop Archie Griffin burrowing over for the hosts’ fourth try. Harris’s conversion made it 35-8.
The Rec was rocking and the noise got even louder soon after when Mackenzie Graham scored the try of the evening, collecting the ball 30m out and producing some mesmeric footwork to send a defender in both directions before surging into the corner and fending off a last-ditch tackle for a stunning touchdown.
Durham scored again late on through Number 8 Marcus Rhodes but it was no more than a consolation as Team Bath wrapped up a memorable victory.
They return to their regular home venue, the Sports Training Village at the University of Bath, for their next match against old rivals Loughborough. That is taking place on Wednesday 2nd November, 6.30pm kick-off, and admission is free.
Team Bath starting XV: 1 Archie Stanley, 2 Jasper Spandler, 3 Archie Griffin, 4 Mackenzie Graham, 5 Tom Berry, 6 Tom Williams (c), 7 Ethan Staddon, 8 George Doel; 9 Elis Horgan, 10 Sam Harris, 11 Alfie Garside (c), 12 Ludo Kolade, 13 Louie Hennessey, 14 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, 15 Luca Mignot. Replacements: 16 Duncan Hood, 17 Scott Kirk, 18 Zak Giannini, 19 Joe Badger, 20 Harry Breeze, 21 Murdoch Lock, 22 Sam Kennaugh, 23 Ethan Hawtin.
Tries: Kolade, Spandler, Doel, Griffin, Graham.
Conversions: Harris 3.
Penalties: Harris 3.
Durham starting XV: 1 Mark Dormer, 2 Jacob Head, 3 Hamish Murray, 4 Ewan Murphy, 5 Billy Hipperson, 6 Jake Spurway, 7 Harry Willard, 8 Marcus Rhodes; 9 Max Pepper, 10 Pat Bishop, 11 Rory Stewart-Cox, 12 Callum Grieve, 13 Olly Walker, 14 Paul Brown, 15 Will Nicholson. Replacements: 16 Josh Chinyemba, 17 Oscar Stott, 18 Isaac Kayada, 19 Sam Shanks, 20 Gus Lovatt, 21 Joe Collier, 22 Will Parry, 23 Nick Jonas.
Tries: Pepper, Rhodes.
Referee: Alan Chandrachud.
Assistant referees: Ben Simpson, Jeff Highcock.