Bath hold on to win at Stradey

In a match in honour of Llanelli legend Ray Gravell, Bath Rugby fought off desperate late Llanelli Scarlets pressure to win 21-17 away from home at Stradey Park on Saturday.

Despite the sunny conditions prevailing over much of Wales, the sea mist brought the temperature down in Llanelli leaving the sides to play in decent conditions without the energy sapping heat of the sun affecting the players.

Llanelli scored first within two minutes of the kick-off, thanks to a Darren Daniels try. Ceiron Thomas' conversion sent the home side into a 7-0 lead.

However it did not take long for Bath Rugby to bounce back. A Shaun Berne kick into the corner setup a line-out near the Llanelli try line and after some sustained pressure the ball found its way to new boy Daniel Browne. With a two man overlap outside him, Browne passed to Matt Banahan who used his pace and power to cross the line. Shaun Berne scored the conversion.

Berne had an opportunity to put Bath Rugby into the lead into the 28th minute, after Llanelli were penalised for coming in at the side of the scrum, but his kick missed the uprights.

Three minutes later, the Scarlets reclaimed the lead. An Andy Beattie knock-on just inside the Bath half, led to winger Garan Evans going through two Bath defenders before off loading to Regan King who outpaced his chasers to score in the corner. Thomas converted to give Llanelli a 14-7 half-time lead.

A change at half-time saw Banahan come off for Abendanon. This meant that Michael Stephenson moved into Banahan's wing position and Abendanon took up the fullback role.

First blood in the second-half went Llanelli's way with Thomas slotting home a penalty right in front of the posts. Minutes later the Scarlets nearly scored again after a kick and chase was only halted thanks to some fine covering by Abendanon who touched the ball down in his own try area. In fact a further attack from the resulting scrum was thwarted on the other side of the try area by some excellent tackling from Joe Maddock and Michael Claassens who bundled the attacker into touch.

In the 56th minute Bath scored their second try. From a line-out, Bath used the forwards to maul the Llanelli defence back and through a melli of bodies, second-row Mike Myerscough scored. Berne made amends for his earlier penalty kick and slotted over the conversion. 17-14 to Llanelli.

With eight minutes to go Chris Goodman scored the visitors third try, Berne hit another successful conversion and Bath put up a fantastic rearguard defense to thwart wave after wave of Scarlets attack.

The doll (played for between Bath and Llanelli), which Bath Rugby had last played for two seasons ago in a Powergen Cup semi-final, was on its way back to the Rec.

Bath Rugby: 15 Stephenson, 14 Banahan (Abendanon 40), 13 Crockett (Davis 52), 12 Cheeseman (Crockett 68), 11 Maddock, 10 Berne ©, 9 Claassens (Walshe 57); 1 Barnes, 2 Dixon (Hawkins 44), 3 Ovens (Jarvis 44), 4 Fidler (Myerscough 40), 5 Faamatuainu (Goodman 52), 6 Beattie, 7 Scaysbrook, 8 Browne.

Scorers: Scarlets: Tries - Daniel, King; Cons - Thomas (2); Pens - Thomas
Bath: Tries - Banahan, Myerscough, Goodman; Cons -Berne (3)

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