A dogged Aviva Premiership derby encounter ended in a narrow one-point 12-11 defeat for Bath Rugby.
Bath gained early control of the game, and had opportunities to open the scoring – Harry Davies nearly touched down in the corner in the first three minutes but he was dragged into touch just before he could ground the ball.
Steadily, the home side worked their way into the game - a drop goal from Gavin Henson giving them the lead on 11 minutes.
Bath drew level with a penalty from Rhys Priestland on 18 minutes, but Bristol were making it hard for Bath to regain their earlier handle on proceedings.
Henson missed a long-range penalty shot on the 22nd minute, but made amends by adding a further two before half-time to give the home side a six point lead going into the break.
Half-time: Bristol Rugby 9 – Bath Rugby 3
Priestland had the chance to add a second penalty in the opening phases of the second 40, only to see his attempt at goal drift wide. Instead, his opposite number, Henson, extended the Bristol lead further with a simple shot in front of the posts.
David Denton looked like he had finally breached the try line on the 47th minute but, similarly to Davies in the first-half, he was dragged into touch by the covering Jason Woodward before touching the ball down.
A strong tackle from replacement Max Clark led to Bath's next opportunity for points – the centre took Woodward into touch, and when the fullback prevented the quick lineout from being taken, he was suitably punished by the boot of Priestland from the tee. 12-6.
The hosts were looking comfortable, albeit without getting much out of Bath’s stubborn defence, but replacement Tusi Pisi threw Bath a lifeline on the 67th minute – quite literally. His side were pressing up on the Bath 22 when a wild throw from the centre was picked off by Semesa Rokoduguni and the wing galloped away to score from over 50 metres out. 12-11.
The final 10 minutes were even more frantic than the previous 70, with both sides fighting hard to tip the game in their favour, but ultimately Bristol kept their heads when it counted, and Bath had to settle with a losing bonus point to keep them in the top four.
Final score: Bristol Rugby 12 – Bath Rugby 11.
26 February 2017
Referee: Greg Garner
Half Time score: 9-3
- Penalties: Henson (37, 40, 45)
- Drop goals: Henson (11)
- Tries: Rokoduguni (66)
- Penalties: Priestland (18, 57)