Bath Rugby made it two pre-season wins from two this afternoon with a 10-21 victory over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
First half tries from Lee Mears and Danny Hipkiss along with points from the kicking tee from Sam Vesty and Olly Barkley proved the difference. The visitors restricted the 2011/12 RaboDirect Pro12 Champions to a converted try and a penalty, and it took an hour of play for them to unlock the Bath defence.
A typically frenetic start heralded this pre-season fixture as each side tried to test the other and small errors crept into play as they tried to find their rhythm.
Ospreys spurned their first chance of points from the kicking tee, instead opting for a lineout and driving maul which was well dealt with by the Bath defence. The visitors were not in the same mindset, and on 17 minutes, Vesty was given his first penalty chance after some good play between Matt Banahan and Nick Abendanon saw the centre earn a penalty. Vesty made no mistake and took the lead for Bath. 0-3.
Bath were slowly gaining the upper hand in the match and Vesty doubled the lead five minutes later after the Ospreys were found guilty of coming in at the side. 0-6.
The visitors were beginning to attack with vigour, and a try looked inevitable going into the last ten minutes of the half. After some strong build up between Banahan, Abendanon and Michael Claassens, the ball came to Mears, who spotted the gap and cantered through from short range to go over for the first try of the game. Vesty added the extras with the conversion, taking Bath's lead to 0-13.
An up and under from the fly-half started the move for the second try. Confusion between the covering Ospreys defence allowed Olly Woodburn to gather the kick, sprint away and offload to the supporting Hipkiss, who handed off the defender as he crossed the line and dotted down. 0-18 – Half Time score.
A huge hit from Ben Skirving set the tone for the second half, with Bath extending their lead within just three minutes. Carl Fearns peeled off the back of a driving maul, Banahan drove through the centres and offloaded to Skirving, who earned the penalty. Olly Barkley, a second half replacement, stepped up and sent the ball sailing between the posts. 0-21.
Dan Biggar finally got the home side on the scoreboard with a penalty on 60 minutes, and they seemed to take some encouragement from it, mounting their first real period of attack since the opening minutes, which eventually paid dividends. Kahn Fotuali'I's quick tap penalty on the halfway line saw him sneak through the defence, and after some quick recycling, the ball found Tom Grabham alone on the wing. Whilst Woodburn sprinted back, the young winger couldn't get the tackle in quick enough and Grabham just touched down in the corner. Biggar converted. 10-21.
Despite both sides working hard to take something further from the game, the home try was the last score of the game as the strong Bath defence stood firm against any further attacks, and they held on for a solid victory.
Photo courtesy of Huw Evans Agency.