Bath Rugby overcame Ospreys 27-10 in front of a hearty crowd at the Rec on a drizzling Friday evening in the Club's final pre-season fixture.
Bath Rugby had named a strong squad ahead of the tie, with Ospreys responding in kind. A combative start from the home side resulted in a successful penalty kick from fly-half George Ford in the opening minutes.
Ospreys knocked on at the resulting restart, with Bath's scrum on the visiting side's 22 almost leading to an early try by wing Semesa Rokoduguni after some super interlinking play. A ruck formed near Ospreys' try line saw another penalty in Bath's favour and Ford, in a bid to keep the early hope of a try alive, opted to kick for touch.
The slippery ball was the only villain of the evening, thwarting several near-certain try-scoring opportunities for both sides, and it was no different as Bath drove under the Ospreys posts, only for it to escape flanker Matt Garvey's grasp.
The away side soon responded with three points from Dan Biggar as Bath were penalised for a tackle infringement. However, a dominant first quarter from Bath was rewarded as a looping pass from prodigious centre Kyle Eastmond allowed looming wing Matt Banahan to dive over in the corner on 22 minutes, to rapturous applause from the home fans. 8-3.
Ospreys had the slight upper hand going into half-time, as prop Ryan Bevington was on the receiving of some good handling from fly-half Dan Biggar, scoring down the right flank. Biggar added the conversion to take the lead for the visitors.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 8 – Ospreys 10.
Bath emerged from the tunnel in even more of an attacking frame of mind. The opening try of the half was spearheaded by George Ford, who manoeuvred himself deftly between defenders to set the try in motion. Leroy Houston received the ball in the shadow of the Ospreys posts and, dragging two defenders with him, crashed over the line. His try was successfully converted by Ford, making it 15-10 to the Blue, Black and White.
Bath kept up the pressure, as Rokoduguni showed his evasive running skills to burst up the left flank. The ball was patiently recycled across the field, only for the Fijian flyer to show up on the end of the move to finish the try off. Ford converted. 22-10.
Ten minutes from the end of the match, a remarkable sleight of hand from fullback Ollie Devoto saw replacement centre Anthony Watson through the smallest of gaps in the Ospreys defence. Whilst that attacking sequence fizzled out, Devoto soon after put himself in the right place in the opposition 22, with fast hands from the Bath backs putting the U20 World Cup winner over in the corner with room to spare.
With the game all but put to bed, Ospreys had a penalty in Bath's half, which replacement fly-half Matthew Morgan kicked to touch in an attempt to balance the scoreline. Spinning the ball wide to the opposite side of the field, Ospreys sensed a glimmer of hope as Tom Grabham finally managed to snaffle a questionable pass, only for Rokoduguni to bundle him into touch to close out an entertaining match.
Final Score: Bath Rugby 27 - Ospreys 10.
Bath Rugby team to face Ospreys
15. Ollie Devoto
14. Semesa Rokoduguni
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Kyle Eastmond
11. Matt Banahan
10. George Ford
9. Peter Stringer
1. Paul James
2. Rob Webber
3. David Wilson
4. Stuart Hooper ( c )
5. Dave Attwood
6. Matt Garvey
7. Guy Mercer
8. Leroy Houston
16. Ross Batty
17. Nathan Catt
18. Anthony Perenise
19. Dominic Day
20. Mat Gilbert
21. Martin Roberts
22. Tom Heathcote
23. Anthony Watson
Players with no number
With thanks to tonight's Matchday sponsors: Nine Feet Tall