Bath United booked their place in the Aviva A League semi-finals tonight with a 14-35, bonus point win over Saracens Storm.
Storm were the first to have a shot at goal, but Ben Spencer dragged the kick wide. He made up for the early error 10 minutes later though, converting fullback Ben Ransom's try. Storm had set-up a number of attacking scrums on the United 5m line, and some quick hands across the pitch saw Ransom spot the gap and dart through to take the lead. 7-0.
United hit back straight away though, keeping their composure and attacking from the re-start. Their patience was rewarded after a series of phases saw the ball passed out wide. Nick Abendanon flicked the ball off the floor to Mat Gilbert, who charged forward, sensed Ollie Devoto on his shoulder and offloaded to the centre for an easy run-in. Gavin Henson was on target for the conversion, levelling the scores. 7-7.
Abendanon was instrumental in the next score for United too. Breaking from deep, the fullback chipped, patiently gathered, and then powered ahead. He was tackled, but Storm failed to release, earning United a penalty. Henson didn't fail with the kick, giving the visitors the lead after 25 minutes.
The next two penalties both came from great work by the pack. First, they won two consecutive scrums against the head, and then they set up a huge driving maul to take play up into the Storm 22. Both times the home side infringed, and both Henson's kicks at goal went sailing through the posts to extend the lead. 7-16.
Half-time: Saracens Storm 7 – Bath United 16.
United started the second-half in much the same way as they ended the first – with ball in hand, and asking questions of the Storm defence. It looked as if the pack had bundled over, only for the referee to rule no try. Justin Melck saw yellow for his part in Storm's defence, and United sent the resulting penalty to the corner. The decision paid off as Tom Dunn was driven over the line to touch down and score. 7-21.
United weren't having it all their own way however, and had to work hard in defence to prevent the home side from scoring. However, they held strong, and broke away to score a try of their own against the run of play, as Richard Lane sent Tom Ellis over. Devoto added the extras, taking the score to 7-28.
Pressure from the home side saw Tom Jubb cross for the Storm to pull a score back, with Sam Stanley converting, but it was cancelled out soon after by another try from United. A scintillating touch finder from Devoto set-up the lineout, and quick work saw Chris Cook find Gilbert in the midfield who barged his way past the Storm defender to score. Devoto added the conversion, and sealed a strong win for United.
Final score: Saracens Storm 14 – Bath United 35.
Bath United team:
15. Nick Abendanon, 14. Richard Lane, 13. Horacio Agulla, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Tom Biggs, 10. Gavin Henson, 9. Chris Cook; 1. Charlie Beech, 2. Tom Dunn, 3. Kane Palma-Newport ( c ), 4. Will Spencer, 5. Ryan Caldwell, 6. Tom Ellis, 7. Mat Gilbert, 8. Will Skuse
16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Greg Palmer, 18. Adam Jamieson, 19. Charlie Ewels, 20. Max Northcote-Green, 21. Marcus Beer, 22. Ludi Hopkinson, 23. Pete Laverick