A beautiful sunny day at the Rec, welcomed the final round of the Gallagher Premiership Shield, between Bath United and Bristol Bears A. It was clear from the outset that both teams intended to make use of the dry conditions, however it was the visitors who struck first through none other than their international back rower, George Smith. Despite Bristol with the early 0-5 lead, United did well to fire some shots of their own, Alex Davies running the show in the backline and providing Levi Davis with space on the wing. Despite great defensive work from United, through the likes of Jack Davies and Levi Douglas, it was the visitors who again exerted the pressure and crossed over, having executed a clinical driving maul from the lineout, broadening the gap to 0-12.
Throughout the half, United and Bears A traded attacks, both hindered by additional handling errors from the high ball. Finally, in the 26’minute, Alex Davies got the home side on the board, adding three from the tee as Bath United’s forwards gained confidence in the physical battle with their abundantly capped opponents.
As Bristol continued to put on the pressure scoring a well worked try to give them their third of the afternoon, it was clear United needed to end the half on a positive note, and it came in the form of Will Butt just seconds later, Alex Davies unclaimed kick-off sat up nicely for Butt and winger ran in unopposed, sending Bath United into changing room with the momentum.
Half Time: Bath United 10 – 19 Bristol Bears A
With everything still to play for in the second half, Bears A reverted to their successful tactics in the first, George Smith claiming his hat-trick after breaking from the maul to dive over in the corner, meanwhile Tiff Eden added the extras for Bears A, 10-26.
Whilst Max Clark received a yellow card for impeding play in the 70thminute, United now looked to their in-form players to get them back into the fight. With no more than 10’ minutes left on the clock, it was none other than Will Butt who spotted a flat pass by Bears, he intercepted and showed his pace, sprinting 50metres down the pitch to get the hosts back on their feet and securing his second of the afternoon making it 15-26.
Greeted by the cheering crowd, Bath United found momentum and began exploiting gaps in a tiring Bears defence. As Bath United began to utilise their pack in the midfield, it was Miles Reid, a recent graduate into the senior side who was the architect of United’s next try. Reid showed his fitness exploding through a gap to find himself in acres of space; having been brought down only 20 metres short, he effortlessly popped it up to oncoming scrum half Chris Cook who did the rest, darting around and eventually dotting it down beneath the posts. Alex Davies continued to show his kicking proficiency to complete a great team 7 pointer, bringing United to within four points of the visitors with just a few minutes remaining in the game 22-26.
Despite a promising comeback from the hosts, sadly it was not to be, and the visitors kicked the ball out to conclude an enthralling derby day. Bath United’s display proved to be an exciting glimpse into the quality of the players progressing through the player pathway.
Andy Rock, Academy Manager commented;
“We are really pleased with how we imposed ourselves throughout the game, we applied some really great pressure throughout the game and played some really good rugby through our attack. The thought going into the game was that we would have to be at our best to be competitive. Being honest, we were not at our best today, and they really proved to themselves today that there isn’t much between them and some of the really big names out there playing for Bristol today. There is not much between the two teams and we are certainly frustrated that we didn’t come away with the win.”
Full Time: Bath United 22 – 26 Bristol Bears A