Bath United side fell agonisingly short of a win against an experienced Saracens Storm side in the Aviva A League tonight, final score 23-29.
United made a bright start, linking together a few good attacking phases but it was Saracens who had the early chance to put points on the board, as Levi Douglas was unfortunate to be caught offside. Storm fly-half Tom Whiteley saw his effort hit the uprights, but the visitors chased well, and it paid off as hooker Scott Spurling went over in the far corner. 0-5.
United kept themselves in touch with a penalty a few minutes later from Skipper Rory Jennings, but Saracens hit back with a period of dominant possession in the United half. The home side held firm with some big defensive hits and Adam Hastings eventually put boot to ball and cleared the lines.
As both sides looked for a solid foothold in the game they found themselves equally matched, but on the half hour mark the visitors broke the deadlock, Rotimi Segun dotting down for the visitors to round off a nicely worked team try. Whiteley was on target for the conversion. 3-12.
United re-started with determination and began a bright spell of attacking phases, Will Homer looking particularly lively with some sniping runs.
On the stroke of half-time, Jennings had the opportunity to knock over a penalty following a period of play camped in the Saracens 22. His attempt sailed straight through the uprights, bringing United to within one try score of the visitors.
Half-time score: Bath United 6 - Saracens Storm 12
United came racing out the blocks for the second-half. An initial blistering break by Jeff Williams punched a hole in the Saracens line, and a quick offload pass to the supporting Homer saw the young scrum-half dance his way past three defenders. The move finished with Levi Davis diving over in the corner, but the try was ruled out by the referee.
Saracens extended their lead 10 minutes into the half with hooker Spurling on hand to dive over for his second score of the night off the back of a strong driving maul. 6-17
An entertaining second-half improved as it went on, and United soon had their first try of the night. A break from Adam Hastings saw him brought agonisingly close to the line, but the ball was quickly recycled and a big, looping pass from Homer found Davis out wide, who made no mistake this time in scoring the five points in the corner. Jennings was once again on target with the conversion to move United within four points. 13 – 17
A resurgent United weren’t done there, and after several determined attacking phases of play, flanker Jake Polledri was bundled over for the short range score. Jennings continued his strong form from the tee to take United into the lead with just over 10 minutes remaining. 20-17.
The see-saw nature of the closing minutes continued, and a lineout five metres out saw replacement hooker, Jared Saunders score for Storm, giving them a slender two point lead.
Another five metre lineout presented another try scoring opportunity for Saunders, who peeled off the back of the maul to dive over unopposed. Whiteley found his angle for the conversion. 20-29
Almost immediately from the re-start, a Saracens infringement led to a straightforward kick at goal for Jennings to take United back within a score and with time left for one more play, United could sense an opportunity to try and snatch the win.
It was not to be though, as the final attack of the evening from the home side saw Darren Atkins bundled into touch to signal the end of a thoroughly entertaining 80 minutes of rugby.
Final score: Bath United 23 - Saracens Storm 29
Bath United squad:
15. Will Partington
14. Levi Davis
13. Jeff Williams
12. Rory Jennings ( c )
11. Darren Atkins
10. Adam Hastings
9. Will Homer
1. Beno Obano
2. Michael van Vuuren
3. Max Lahiff
4. Alex Humfrey
5. Will Britton
6. Jake Polledri
7. Levi Douglas
8. Josh Bayliss
16. Gabriel Oghre
17. Greg Palmer
18. Shaun Knight
19. Mike Snook
20. Alex Weighton
21. Cameron Brown
22. Ludi Hopkinson