Bath Rugby U18s battle hard to win 12-try thriller in the Premiership Rugby U18s League at Wootton Bassett RFC on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts began the game with an edge and that was evident just five minutes into the match-up when Bath took advantage of some ill-discipline from their visitors. Hooker John Stewart crashed over from close range following a line-out, which came from a penalty in midfield. Orlando Bailey added the extras to round off a perfect start. [7-0]
Harlequins got themselves on the scoreboard just four minutes later after applying good pressure in the Bath 22. The tesion was absorbed by a rigorous defence but quick ball out wide proved decisive as Cassius Cleaves crashed over under pressure. [7-5]
The Blue, Black and White really began to turn on the pressure as the pendulum swung both ways during a tense first-half, and it was Stewart who extended the hosts’ score. A replica try of the first, the hooker crashed over off the back of the powering maul as it approached the line. Bailey added the extras. [14-5]
Makeen Alikhan added a second for the visitors after dotting his effort down in the corner, just 26 minutes into the match. Harlequins enjoyed a good spell of possession in the Bath 22 before the flanker powered his way over after the ball was delivered well to the wide channel. [14-10]
As the game approached half-time, Bath added their third score of the game following a well-constructed line-out. Bath recycled the ball well through the forwards after a period of being camped on the Quins line for a number of phases, before Richards piled over. Bailey added the extra two [21-10]
The clock had struck red and after playing an additional four minutes, Bath were caught off guard as Harlequins scored their third of the game. Alikhan got his brace just before the break as the flanker crashed over from the blindside of the scrum. Tom Lynagh converts to close the gap to just four points as half-time struck. [21-17]
Half-time - Bath Rugby U18s 21-17 Harlequins U18s
Bath started as they left off, another score and a bonus-point secured. A phenomenal team try was started with a poor offload, which Archie Alexander managed to scoop up before offloading to Carr-Smith, who passed to Stewart, and the hooker worked the ball back to the scrum-half before the ball made it to the oncoming Richards, who added his second try of the game. Bailey added a further two points to extend the lead to 11 points. [28-17]
The hosts added a second score in quick succession after 55 minutes as Josh Dingley charged down Lynagh’s kick to begin the move. The ball was shipped wide as Will Morris dotted the ball down over in the corner. Bailey added to his perfect record. [35-17]
Harlequins respond well from the hosts' brace of early scores. The visitors compiled the pressure in the 22 before the ball was looped out wide to Ludo Kolade who stepped the last defender before going over for a simple score. Lynagh added the extra two to put some pressure on the hosts. [35-24]
After 60 minutes the hosts had looked to put the result beyond doubt as Ewan Richards crashed over to claim his hat-trick. The forwards work the ball well in the Quins 22 from close range before the lock made his way over the whitewash. [40-24]
However, Harlequins responded well in the latter quarter of the game as they scored a brace to force the game into a tense ending with ten minutes to go. The first came through Lynagh who scored after some good build-up outside the 22 from the visitors before breaching a gap and with two simple passes the fly-half went over. Lynagh converted his own score. [40-31]
Just three minuted later the ball was held up over the line by the visitors and Harlequins took full advantage of Bath being down to 14 men, following Frankie Read’s sin bin. The visitors won the following five metre scrum which set the platform for their score as the ball was shipped wide for Kitan Ojo to go over in the corner.
The young Bath men challenged well and managed to get the ball back to just five metres out from the Harlequins line, but after being awarded a penalty, Bailey made the decision to take the result as the full-time whistle blew on a thrilling contest between two very good attacking sides.
Full-time - Bath Rugby U18s 40-36 Harlequins U18s
Bath Rugby U18s will now face off against Gloucester Rugby U18s in the final game of the Southern Conference as they search for a place at Finals Day.