Bath United powered into the Aviva A League Final with a convincing 39-21 win over the Sale Jets this evening at the Recreation Ground.
United were greeted by a 6000 strong capacity crowd at the Rec - a record for a home A league fixture - and were quick to gain an early advantage through some great attacking play. Olly Woodburn and Richard Lane combined on the right wing at first, before the ball was spread wide across the pitch. Kyle Eastmond fed Tom Biggs, who burst down the left wing, passing the ball back inside to Eastmond who flew over the line after only a minute on the clock. Tom Heathcote was on target with his first attempt at goal to add to the extra two points. 7-0.
From the restart United were on the attack again and after some patient build up play, Tom Dunn peeled off the back of a great driving maul to dart over. Heathcote was again on song with the conversion attempt. 14-0.
The home side continued to show determined attacking intent and a penalty in the Sale 22 saw Heathcote kick to the corner. Sale struggled to cope with the power of the United scrum, and when they infringed, referee Thomas Foley eventually lost patience with the visitors and awarded United the penalty try. An easy additional two points in front of the posts were converted by Heathcote. 21-0.
The Jets fought hard to get back into the game, and enjoyed a good attacking phase as the half drew to a close, proving that they weren't down and out of the encounter just yet. Centre Max Clark showed a great turn of pace to make a vital covering tackle on Charlie Ingall to prevent the visitors from scoring their first try. The following scrum was cleared and the home fans could breathe a sigh of relief.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 21 - Sale Shark Jets 0
United came out at the beginning of the second-half with the same intent as the first, and quickly set about putting the visitors under more pressure. An early infringement from the visitors led to Heathcote adding a further three points from the tee, taking the score to 24-0.
Ten minutes into the second half, and United were once again working their way across the try line. A beautiful phase of play the backs saw Eastmond feed Woodburn, with the wing cutting a scintillating line and finding Tom Biggs in space, who crossed for the fourth try. 29-0.
The scrum was proving an effective power play for United and another penalty right in front of the posts saw Heathcote make no mistake in adding another three points to the tally. 32-0.
United's fifth and final try came courtesy of some good work by Chris Cook who bulldozed his way towards the line but was stopped just short by the Sale defence. The ball was recycled quickly to the swooping Charlie Ewels, who barrelled his way over to score by the posts. Heathcote again converted. 39-0.
To their credit, the Jets kept fighting, and eventually broke their duck with two quick tries from Juan Crous and Charlie Ingall, both converted by Chris Johnson. They added a third with the last play of the game with winger Tom Brady scoring from close range. Johnson added the extras to end the game.
For the final, United will travel to Franklin's Gardens on Monday 16th December to face Northampton Wanderers, who beat Quins A 39-30 in this evening's other semi-final.
Final score: Bath United 39 - Sale Jets 21.
15. Richard Lane
14. Olly Woodburn
13. Max Clark
12. Kyle Eastmond
11. Tom Biggs
10. Tom Heathcote
9. Chris Cook
1. Charlie Beech
2. Tom Dunn
3. Kane Palma-Newport (capt)
4. Will Spencer
5. Charlie Ewels
6. Tom Ellis
7. David Sisi
8. Will Skuse
16. Tom Woolstencroft
17. Jake Caulfield
18. Adam Jamieson
19. Freddie Clarke
20. Max Northcote-Green
21. Rory Jennings
22. Ludi Hopkinson
23. Marcus Beere