Bath Rugby U18s fought valiantly but were overturned in a thrilling second-half, which saw Gloucester Rugby come out on top with a 31-19 win at Millfield School on Saturday.
Bath began the game with flair and tempo going through some early phases, which paid dividends for the young Blue, Black and White contingent when the ball went wide courtesy of Orlando Bailey and John Stewart before Felix Connolly passed back inside for the centre to crash over from close range. [5-0]
From the restart the visitors set themselves well in the Bath 22 and after multiple phases they found themselves crossing the whitewash courtesy of Matty Jones. [5-5]
After a successful period in the Gloucester half, Bath got themselves back in front following a well-constructed driving maul after Bailey went to the corner following the penalty. Hooker John Stewart pounced over the line from close range as a dominant maul edged over the try area. Bailey added the extras to give his side a seven-point lead. [12-5]
Gloucester got themselves back on level terms five minutes later as Freddie Thomas pounced over following a succession of eight phases in the Bath 22. The powerful No. 8 reacted quickest with a pick and go from five metres out to catch the young Blue, Black and White defence out. Jamie Howells added the extra two to level the scores. [12-12]
The visitors added a third shortly before the break as Jones again found himself on the scoresheet. A well-set scrum began the move as the young Cherry and White’s recycled the ball well out wide before the scrum-half piled over from close range from the base of the ruck. [12-17]
However, Bath edged themselves back into the lead with captain Bailey on hand to score a brilliant individual effort. Bath set themselves on the Gloucester 22 with a line-out and after deciding to move the ball quickly from the maul, the fly-half dummied play out left and went through a gap, evading three defenders before scoring a solo effort. Bailey converted his own score to give Bath the lead at the interval. [19-17]
Half-time – Bath Rugby 19–17 Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester turned up the heat after half-time as the visitors pinned themselves deep into the Bath 22. After absorbing the pressure and denying the visitors on four occasions from close range, Thomas added his second as the visitors spread the ball wide and caught the defence off guard. Howells extended the lead with a successful conversion. [19-24]
Both sides battled hard in the second period before with Bath continuing to knock on the door of the visitors’ try line but ultimately were unable to penetrate the defence.
Harry Taylor then added the final blow as the flanker intercepted a pass off the back of the scrum to race clear under the sticks to wrap up the result in the final minute. Howells added the extras to extend the score. [19-31]