One of the first games fans, players and staff from both sides look for when the fixtures are announced in the summer ahead of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Bath Rugby v Bristol Bears is steeped in history. The duo first met in 1888 in front of a crowd of 700 at the Country Ground, Bristol and over 130 years of rivalry have followed since.
The match was a low-scoring affair – Bath edging a tight contest five points to Bristol’s three – but in the professional era, points and memorable moments have been aplenty.
A 76-7 win for Bath in 1996 began a 13-year tussle in the Premiership before Bristol’s relegation and since their return to the top flight in 2016, there has been an average 41 points scored in games between the two teams in all competitions. Bath’s biggest win came at Ashton Gate in form of a 57-22 Challenge Cup victory while Bristol ran out large winners last time out.
Bristol sit top of the table with 13 wins from 17 games in the Premiership this term and look likely to secure a home semi-final in the play-offs while Bath’s focus returns to the league following a heart-breaking European exit last weekend.
“It hurt big time at their place last time,” back row Josh Bayliss said.
“We’ve come a long way since then. We’re focusing on our game and we’re really excited to get out there at the Rec and hopefully put a few things right.
“They’re a great team in great form. We know they will try and play with the ball, it’s in their DNA but for us it’s taking our opportunities in defence to turn the ball over and when we do, capitalise on them.
“It’s going to be a great contest and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Date: 8 May 2021
Competition: Gallagher Premiership
Where: The Rec
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistants: Gary Welsh, Adam Leal
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Citing Commissioner: Budge Pountney
Media Coverage: BT Sport 2
BRISTOL BEARS’ CURRENT FORM
Bristol Bears 12-20 Exeter Chiefs | Gallagher Premiership
Newcastle Falcons 17-34 Bristol Bears | Gallagher Premiership
Bordeaux Begles 36-17 Bristol Bears | Heineken Champions Cup
Bristol Bears 35-33 Harlequins | Gallagher Premiership
Northampton Saints 21-28 Bristol Bears | Gallagher Premiership
THE CLASH 2019
A 60,000-strong Twickenham crowd witnessed a 2019 West Country tussle that was ferocious and physical as Bath Rugby overcame Bristol Bears 26-19.
A Bristol error after a shift in their own end during the first couple of phases was punished by Jonathan Joseph's quick reactions and it seemed to set the tone for the game in the sense of Bristol being adventurous but Bath snapping up the opportunities.
Joseph put a wonderful grubber through for Jamie Roberts to touch down and another surging move saw England wing Joe Cokanasiga bundle his way across.
Indiscipline handed Bristol a route into the game courtesy of Callum Sheedy's boot with three penalties before the break.
Both sides ground away after half-time, and it took Rhys Priestland's smart response to another Bristol error in their 22 to provide the first score of the second period.
Bristol finally got the try their pressure warranted when Dan Thomas raced away on the flank to cross but Bath saw out the game comfortably to ensure a happy trip back along the M4 after a bruising battle.