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Bath Rugby claim derby rights in front of record crowd

Bath Rugby secured local bragging rights with a dogged 16-9 Aviva Premiership victory over arch-rivals Bristol Rugby in front of a record crowd at the Recreation Ground.

It was Bristol who dominated the territory in the opening exchanges, but Bath showed strength in defence to withstand the pressure from their South West counterparts. A tactical kicking battle ensued between the respective backs with conditions at the Rec not favouring a fast-flowing game.

A thumping hit from Max Clark proved to be the turning point after 18 minutes, as the momentum shifted to the home side, who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Tom Homer. A minute later, Bristol hit back with a penalty of their own from fly-half Billy Searle to level the scores. 3-3.

Bath took the game by the scruff of the neck with a well-worked try rounded off by Jack Wilson. The move started with a rolling maul on the half-way line, which was followed by a great break from Tom Ellis. The back rower sent the Bristol defence into disarray as he offloaded to Jack Wilson, with the winger having the simple task of crossing under the posts for the first try of the evening. 10-3.

Homer and Searle exchanged penalties to make it 13-6, before the Bristol fly-half slotted a penalty on the half-time whistle to ensure the teams went into the interval closely poised at 13-9.

Half-time score: Bath Rugby 13-9 Bristol Rugby

The second-half re-started in similar fashion to the first, with much of the opening stages spent exchanging possession on the half-way line, until a clever kick from Darren Allinson opened up the game and forced Bristol to concede a penalty, which Homer duly converted. 16-9.

Bath soon came within touching distance of a second try in the corner, but were denied by some resolute defending from Bristol. However, that came at a cost with centre Jason Woodward sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away.

Despite the one man advantage, Bath were unable to make the numerical difference count, as the two teams spent large periods trying to make that telling breakthrough.

It proved to be a nail-biting final few minutes for the home side - Bristol piled on the pressure as they searched for the try that would see them tie the match. As with the entire game it was a huge defensive effort that saw off the onslaught - Max Clark producing a heroic try-saving tackle to secure the derby points for Bath.

Final score: Bath Rugby 16-9 Bristol Rugby

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