Bath Rugby gained their third win out of three as they finished off the pre-season in style with a 26-8 victory over Cardiff Blues.
Olly Barkley, playing at fly-half, scored a try, four penalties and two conversions to give him a personal points haul of 21, with replacement fullback Jack Cuthbert providing the other try.
Barkley’s first shot at goal was wide, but he made up for it on the 10 minute mark. Dominic Day took the lineout well, passed down and a powerful driving maul was initiated up the pitch. Cardiff struggled to cope, and gave away the penalty, which Barkley duly converted. 3-0.
Leigh Halfpenny had the opportunity to level the scores for the visitors, but uncharacteristically sent the ball across the face of the posts instead.
Bath kept pressuring the Blues, and the set-piece was a dominant factor for much of the game. A smart kicking game played out to suit the wet conditions was also proving beneficial for Bath, keeping the Welsh side pinned back in their own half.
Just over a quarter of the way through the game the home side extended their lead with Barkley’s try. An extended period of pressure saw fly-half Jason Tovey try to kick clear, only for his kick to be charged down and into the hands of the waiting Dan Hipkiss. The centre looped his run forward and offloaded to Day. The lock powered through, drew the defence and offloaded to Barkley who went over in the corner. The fly-half converted his own try. 10-0.
A strong defensive effort from Bath was forcing Cardiff to work hard, and there was a hint of luck about their only try of the game. Stuart Hooper stole the lineout ball, and Bath looked to control it across the field, however David Wilson couldn’t gather the final pass, and Alex Cuthbert kicked the loose ball ahead. It was a foot race between Cuthbert and Tom Biggs, and whilst the Bath man has pace, he couldn’t quite catch the Wales international, who touched down over the line. 10-5 – Half Time score.
A cagey start to the second half saw neither side trouble the score board for the first 10 minutes, and it was Cardiff replacement Gareth Davies who scored first, with a successful penalty on 52 minutes.
It was to be the last score of the night for the visitors though, as Bath set about controlling the game. Three successive penalties from Barkley extended the lead to 19-8 going into the last ten minutes of the game, but the home side weren’t finished, and the move of the game came with just seven minutes remaining.
Another strong scrum saw Ben Skirving peel off the back and combine well with Michael Claassens to get the ball away quickly. Claassens spotted Kyle Eastmond wide on the wing and threw a perfect looping pass for Eastmond to collect. The winger danced down the line, drawing the defence as he went, and made a well-timed offload to Cuthbert who took his try well, holding off the Cardiff defender to just sneak over in the corner. Barkley added the extras, sealing a solid win for the home side. Final Score Bath Rugby 26 – Cardiff Blues 8.