Cardiff end Bath's winning run

With the weather so sodden on a late November night, Bath Rugby faced the Cardiff Blues in a battle that saw this season's unbeaten record at The Rec diminished after a valiant fight. In the torrential downpour, both teams would be forgiven for allowing the standards to slip, and although, to the contrary, they displayed a commendable performance, it was not quite enough to ensure a Bath victory and Cardiff Blues walked away with a winning 14-6 lead.

For the opening minutes, Cardiff had the better of the open exchanges, and although Bath's resolute defence held firm, an early offence for holding on in the ruck gave Dai Flanagan the chance to put the first points on the board, with a penalty kick slicing straight over the posts. Moments before, Barkley had broken through the blues defence, with Cardiff players hanging at his feet, but it was not enough to prevent the Blues from scoring and the home side had to wait another nine minutes before they could equalise.

A good effort by Joe Maddock looked like it might have given Bath a vital try, but a small knock on in the process of crossing the line prevented Maddock from winning Bath five points. A period of sustained pressure followed, with Bath dominating the line out, but the try, which Bath had been threatening, did not materialise.

However, the home side did draw level in the 25th minute when Michael Lipman's strong drive at the heart of the Cardiff defence resulted in Olly Barkley being handed an opportunity to kick at goal. The centre slotted the ball over the posts to make the score three all.

Attack immediately turned to defence as Cardiff looked to have scored through Jason Spice's sniping run, but the scrum half fumbled the ball in the act of scoring to deny his side the lead. The pressure did eventually reap rewards for the Blues though, as they nosed ahead once more through the boot of Dai Flanagan.

The final say of the half would go to Bath, as Daniel Browne's rampaging drive ripped open the Cardiff defence, causing the visitors to infringe in the shadow of their own posts. Barkley, whose superb game in defence, stepped up once more to draw his side level, and a deserved share of the spoils at the interval.

Bath returned to the field in the second half with renewed vigour and pace and took control of the game with some excellent interplay between backs and forwards despite the monsoon conditions. With the pressure mounting, Barkley had an opportunity to take the lead for the first time in the match after a high tackle, but the centre pushed his penalty attempt just wide of the posts.

With the scores locked at two penalties a-piece entering the final quarter, Bath continued to press for a vital breakthrough try, but it was Cardiff who edged into a 6-9 lead through Flanagan, after Peter Short was sin-binned for killing the ball.

Reduced to 14 men, Bath fought on, and inspired by the fresh impetus of replacements, Lee Mears and James Scaysbrook, took the game to Cardiff once more. With eight minutes left to play, Barkley put his boot back into action in an attempt to equalise, but again in tricky conditions the ball was pushed to the left of the posts and the score remained 6 - 9 to Cardiff.

The final throws of the match were played at an impressive pace as both sides searched for the score that would secure the victory, but chances were few and far between. Cardiff, though, were presented with a late opportunity through replacement Andy Powell, and although Steve Borthwick produced a strong tackle to try and deny the Welshmen a score, Bath had run out of numbers in defence and Robin Sowden Taylor crashed over for the decisive try, bringing the final score to 14 - 6 to the Blues.


15. Nick Abendanon, 14. Joe Maddock, 13. Tom Cheeseman, 12. Olly Barkley, 11. Michael Stephenson, 10. Butch James, 9. Michael Claassens, 1. Laurence Ovens, 2. Pieter Dixon, 3. Lorne Ward, 4. Steve Borthwick (c), 5. Peter Short, 6. Jonny Faamatuainu, 7. Michael Lipman, 8. Daniel Browne

16. Lee Mears, 17. Paulica Ion, 18. James Scaysbrook, 19. Martin Purdy, 20. Chris Goodman, 21. Nick Walshe, 22. Shaun Berne

Cardiff Blues:

15. Jamie Roberts, 14. Tal Selley, 13. Gareth Thomas, 12. Dafydd Hewitt, 11. Tom James, 10. Dai Flanagan, 9. Jason Spice, 1. John Yapp, 2. T Rhys Thomas, 3. Gary Powell, 4. Deiniol Jons, 5. Paul Tito, 6. Maama Molitika, 7. Robin Sowden 8. Xavier Rush (c)

16. Gethin Jenkins, 17. Gareth Williams, 18. Scott Morgan, 19. Andy Powell, 20. Ben White, 21. Darren Allinson, 22. Ryan Howells

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