The honours were shared at the Rec this afternoon as Bath Rugby kicked off their pre-season campaign with a closely fought draw against Scarlets, final score 26-26.
On a gloriously sunny afternoon at the Rec, both teams started brightly with plenty of end to end rugby for the crowd to enjoy. A typical pre-season game looked like being played out, with both teams slightly rusty and wanting to work through combinations.
The stalemate was broken after 20 minutes when the first points came courtesy of Olly Woodburn, who dotted down in the corner following a strong scrum by the forward pack and quick hands from Chris Cook. Henson was unlucky with the conversion shot at goal, his effort drifting just wide of the mark. 5-0.
Neither side were gaining much ascendency, but the second try of the afternoon arrived much to the delight of the home crowd. David Sisi powered through a gap in the Scarlets defence and, after some quick hands along the backline, Ben Williams was left with a simple touchdown. Henson quickly added the extras from in front on the posts to take the score to 12-0.
On the stroke of half-time, Scarlets got their first points of the afternoon through flanker Rob McCusker, who darted between the Bath defence after a quick-thinking tap and go penalty. Fly-half Steven Shingler added the extras to leave the game nicely poised heading into the second-half.
Half-time score: Bath Rugby 12 - Scarlets 7
A much changed Bath line-up returned to the field for the second-half, with new signings Henry Thomas, Luke Arscott and Grant Shiells all making their debut appearances in the Blue, Black and White.
The visitors picked up where they left off in the first-half, as a scintillating break by the backs unleashed Scott Williams to dive over. Shingler was once again on target with the conversion, giving the Welsh region the lead for the first time in the game. 12-14
The home side dusted themselves off and after some determined defending by Leroy Houston, who disrupted the Scarlets offload, the ball found its way to the grateful hands of Woodburn, who ran the length of the field to score his second try of the afternoon. Henson made no mistake the extras, restoring the five point gap. 19-14.
The Bath backs were beginning to find their stride and after several attacking phases, featuring an inside pop pass from Henson to Semesa Rokoduguni and a sublime flick backwards through the legs by Matt Banahan, the ball eventually found its way back to the flying Rokoduguni, who nipped over in the corner. Henson nailed a tricky touchline conversion to further extend the lead. 26-14.
From the re-start, Scarlets hit straight back, catching the Bath defence off guard and allowing James Davis to burrow his way over the line. Shingler converted to edge the Scarlets that little bit closer to the home side. 26-21.
Despite the fact the game was billed as a friendly, both sides played with serious ferocity, with some booming hits being made across the park.
With time almost up, Scarlets' Aled Davies sniped over from close range for what looked to be a decisive, match-winning try. Shingler had had a superb afternoon from the tee, but the young fly-half miscued wide of the post and the scores remained locked on 26-26.
The game re-started and Bath were straight back on the attack as they searched for the match winning score. Wave after wave of home attack eventually led to a penalty but a big drive from the resulting line-out could not break through the stubborn Scarlets defence.
Final score: Bath Rugby 26 - Scarlets 26
Don't forget tickets are now on sale for the opening Aviva Premiership game of our blockbuster season against newly promoted London Welsh on Saturday 13th September, kick-off 15.00.
Tickets are on general sale with prices for all ages starting at just £10, and with the best seats only £25, so there's no excuse for you to miss out!
Call 0844 448 1865, buy online or visit the Ticket Office on Pulteney Bridge.