Bath Rugby secured their place in the semi-finals of the LV=Cup with a hard-fought, bonus point 24-13 victory against Cardiff Blues at the Rec this afternoon.
When Bath were deemed to have wheeled the scrum with five minutes gone, it offered the Blues a straightforward shot a goal which fly-half Simon Humberstone succeeded with to score the first points of the match. 0-3.
The home side weren't long in responding however, and three minutes later Bath's impressive maul enabled Alafoti Fa'osiliva to touch down. The conversion dragged wide, but Bath now led 5-3.
With under a quarter of an hour left in the first half, Bath once more utilised their potent driving maul to good effect – this time with Micky Young the beneficiary as he sniped over for the try. Heathcote added the extras to make it 12-3.
On 35 minutes, Humberstone landed a penalty from in front of the Bath posts to double the Blues' points tally. 12-6.
Bath spent most of the final five minutes of the half in Blues territory, but a vital scrum on the visitors' five metre line came to nothing as the ball rebounded into Blues hands. Scrum-half Lewis Evans kicked the ball dead to draw the curtain on the first half.
Half time: Bath Rugby 12 – Cardiff Blues 6
Ten minutes into the second half, replacement Gavin Henson crashed over for Bath's third try of the match after some patient build-up. Heathcote's conversion then made the score 19-6.
Following that try, Bath started to take control of the game, denying the Blues any momentum, and on 76 minutes the visitors failed to deal with another powerful driving maul from the home side, leading to replacement flanker Guy Mercer touching down for the bonus point try.
Despite Heathcote's conversion striking the post, Bath now held an 18-point lead. However, the visitors responded through Dan Fish as he carved his way through to score the first try of the match for the Blues. Humberstone duly converted to bring the Blues within nine points of Bath. 24-13.
Cardiff tried to build some momentum in the closing minutes of the game but couldn't find a way through the stubborn home defence, and as time was up on the clock, referee Dean Richards brought the game to a close, guaranteeing Bath qualification to the knock-out stages of another tournament.
Final score: Bath Rugby 24 – Cardiff Blues 13.