Bath Rugby opened their 2016 pre-season account with a 14-20 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie at Ilkley RFC.
The game’s status as a first hit out was evident from the opening phases, and the home side scored early with a try from Jonah Holmes. The winger ran on to the crash-ball provided by Tom Casson, and stormed through to score between the posts. Joe Ford added the conversion, giving the home side a 7-0 lead after two minutes.
Yorkshire continued to enjoy the upper hand early on, but Bath drew level on 12 minutes. Matt Garvey disrupted the home side’s lineout, and, whilst he couldn’t take the ball cleanly, he did enough to allow Michael van Vuuren to pounce on the loose ball. The hooker out-paced the defence to find his way to the try line, with Rory Jennings converting the score. 7-7.
Jennings struck a superb 40 metre penalty about ten minutes later to give Bath the lead – Yorkshire guilty of being off their feet at the breakdown, but the advantage was short lived. A Bath knock-on from the re-start gave Yorkshire the put in at the scrum, and with their pack enjoying a strong first-half showing, number eight Ryan Burrows was able to crash over from the base of the scrum. Ford was again on target for the conversion.
Half-time: Yorkshire Carnegie 14 – Bath Rugby 10.
Bath came out with renewed vigour in the second-half, putting pressure on Yorkshire, and the set-piece in particular started to be controlled by the visitors.
A series of infringements in their own 22 from Yorkshire allowed Jennings to bring Bath to within a point going with another penalty, before Zach Mercer broke away from the base of the scrum to score the match-winning try, which Jennings converted, with 15 minutes to play.
Whilst no further scores were added, Bath maintained their control of the game in the closing stages, making sure they played their own rugby in the right areas, keeping the ball safe, and rarely allowing Yorkshire out of their own half with ball in hand.
Final score: Yorkshire Carnegie 14 – Bath Rugby 20.