Bath U18s secured a well-deserved victory at Odd Down Sports Ground, against London-side Saracens U18. Having dominated possession early on, the home side grew a healthy lead through the combination of tries, and penalties courtesy of captain, Orlando Bailey’s boot.
It was clear from the outset that Bath U18s were on a mission to get the first score. After 13 minutes and a flurry of chances, Bath’s efforts were rewarded, hooker Jasper Spandler scoring from short-range, following a number of pick and drives. Orlando Bailey had no problem adding the extras. [7-0]
It was the captain who gave Bath U18s more points only minutes later. A neck role from Saracens U18s, led to a penalty which Bailey cashed in for three points. [10-0]
Bath U18s remained on top for the duration of the half and headed into the break with a healthy lead and their tails up.
Half Time Bath U18’s 10 - 0 Saracens U18’s
On return to the pitch, point-machine Orlando Bailey slotted two penalties to put his side even further ahead. An incredible long-distance kick flicking the bar as it went between the uprights, sealed what looked to be a confident and solid 16-0 lead. [16-0]
However, celebrations were short-lived, and with drop-in tempo Bath’s conceded, allowing Saracens U18s to find their first points of the game. Having conceded a penalty, Bath were slow to react to a quick tap taken by the visitors scrum-half. A scrabbling defence meant Bath were short out wide, leaving Saracens winger Tom Mills, space to dive over in the right-hand corner. The conversion from Alex Cahill was successful. [16-7]
With momentum on their side, Saracens doubled their score. Having hove on in the scrum, before stretching Bath’s defence. Finally, the visitors reverted to using the pack, shunting their way forward and eventually allowing replacement second row Alex Wardell to get over the line, and put them within two points. Alex Cahill made it a maximum from the tee. [16-14]
Determined to not allow a replication of the previous week. Bath U18s opted for points, having been awarded a penalty for a high tackle in the oppositions half. Orlando Bailey didn’t hesitate to capitalise. [19-14]
Just eight minutes from the end, Bath U18s mini try drought was quenched. A chip over the defence from Bailey was gathered by winger Felix Connolly, who accelerated away from defenders and dived between the posts. Bailey continued his good work from the kicking tee and made it 7. [26 - 14]
An interception, almost saw Felix Connolly get his second of the afternoon, but he was judged to have knocked the ball forward upon its grounding. A turnover when the clock had turned red allowed the home side to clear the ball, rounding off a mature display from the young side, and sending them into the new year on a positive note.
Full-time - Bath Rugby U18s 26-14 Saracens U18s
Academy Manager, Craig Lilley said: "I am absolutely delighted for the players. Following last weeks performance we really felt we could make some easy adjustments during the week to help us progress our game going into today. We knew that Saracens would be physical and bring certain threats, but the players adapted well.
"I thought our defence today gave us a real platform enabling us to build momentum and energy. This then transferred into our attack where we had some outstanding moments with ball in hand.
"Looking ahead we are all very aware that we have lots to work on, but it is clear that there is a lot of continued growth within this group which is extremely exciting. The key for us now is to get back to it on Monday to continue to work hard on further areas of our game."