26 July 2012, 11:02pm
Bath Rugby secured their place in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals tonight with victories over Worcester Warriors and Exeter Chiefs.
The Blue, Black and Whites join London Irish, Saracens, London Welsh, Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby in the finals at the Recreation Ground next Friday, 3rd August.
Bath Rugby 35 Worcester Warriors 12
Worcester made a flying start in their opening game of the pool as they dominated possession and raced into the lead, with Josh Drauniniu spinning out of a couple of tackles before sending over Ben Howard for the first try. They followed that up with a second from Errie Claassens who showed his speed to nip out of a couple of tackles to go over, giving Worcester a 12-0 lead.
Bath's England Sevens star Tom Biggs hit back, sprinting around the Worcester defence for their first try of the night, and they followed that up soon after with a bit of magic from Matt Banahan.
The giant winger showed his kicking skills by putting a grubber behind the Warriors defence and sprinting through to score the try - Tom Heathcote converted both.
With the score at 14-12 at the break Worcester needed the next score, but it was Bath, with that man Biggs again who pounced, chipping and re-gathering himself for his second of the game and a 21-12 lead.
Bath then sealed the win with two minutes remaining as Rich Lane collected a crossfield kick before stepping the last man to score and make it 28-12.
And Lane still had time for another as he backed himself down the left to sprint over, Heathcote slotting the touchline conversion.
Bath Rugby 19 Exeter Chiefs 12
Bath took the momentum of their first victory over Worcester victory into their clash with Exeter, and grabbed an early lead when Olly Woodburn glided through for the opening try.
But after a very cagey spell in which defences took the ascendancy, it was Exeter who hit back on the stroke of half-time, quick man Jack Arnott adding his second of the night as the Chiefs trailed 7-5 at the break.
Arnott had outstripped Woodburn for that Chiefs score but the Bath man got his revenge early in the second half as he used a subtle change of pace to leave the Exeter winger on the floor to go over for his second.
Exeter hit back through replacement Joel Conlon, who burst through two tackles to cover from just outside the 22, Luke Treharne's conversion making it 14-12.
With their lead under threat Bath responded, Matt Banahan making the initial break before quick hands from Tom Heathcote slipped the ball inside to Tom Biggs for his third of the evening to clinch victory.
After Worcester fell to Gloucester, it was down to the final match of the evening between the two old rivals Bath and the hosts to decide who took the pool title. With qualification for the Finals guaranteed for both sides, this was all about bragging rights in the age old rivalry, and it was the Kingsholm crowd celebrating come the final whistle.
Gloucester Rugby 24 Bath Rugby 17
The home side looked to have taken an early lead when Jonny May stepped inside a couple of tackles only to be held up, but the respite was temporary for Bath as diminutive winger Ian Clark skipped outside the covering defence to break the deadlock.
Speedster Clark added a second a minute later as he ducked out of a couple of tackles to make it five tries on the night.
Gloucester were winning the battle of the restarts and therefore possession but the biggest cheer of the night came as May chased down Olly Woodburn to deny Bath what looked like a certain try.
The boos were soon ringing out though as Bath pulled one back through Rich Lane to trail 10-5, but it was Clark once more who struck, running from his own 22 to complete his hat-trick and make it 17-5 at the break.
The Cherry & Whites were dealt a blow as Freddie Burns was forced off injured soon to be joined by Huia Edmonds with some ferocious hits coming in from both sides.
But when the action got back underway it was Bath who pounced, a chip over the top slipped through Shane Monahan's hands and Lane scored his second of the game.
That brought the score back to 17-10 but Monahan made up for his earlier error by sprinting over from 50 yards, holding off Tom Biggs in impressive style.
Chris Cook added a consolation for Bath at the end, but it was the Cherry and Whites who took the Pool title.
Tickets are on sale now for the Series Finals next Friday at the Rec , starting at just £5 for juniors and £10 for adults. Call the Bath Rugby Ticket Office on 0844 448 1865 or click here to book online to grab yours for what promises to be a fantastic evening of summer rugby at the Rec.
Bath Rugby JP Morgan 7s Series Squad
1. Matt Banahan
2. Ollie Devoto
3. Guy Mercer
4. James Tyas
5. Will Skuse
6. Tom Baldwin
7. Mark McMillan
8. Olly Woodburn
9. Chris Cook
10. Tom Biggs
11. Richard Lane
12. Tom Heathcote