Bath Rugby Under-18s dug deep in difficult weather conditions to earn a fantastic 26-12 victory over Exeter Chiefs at Marlborough College.
In a match bursting with excellent width, surgically precise kicking, turnovers aplenty and some monster hits, the first 15 minutes saw the two sides trade turnovers and implement a range of kicking strategies as they sized each other up.
The junior Blue, Black and Whites shifted Chiefs from coast to coast with fly-half Raff Weston dictating play well allowing wings Byron Lloyd-Gilmour and Max Ashton plenty of ball in hand. The hosts’ persistence was rewarded via the forwards as a compact maul saw Max Pearce touch down.
A succession of big hits in the midfield from Bath duo Jack Haythornthwaite and Billy Sela kept the tempo high and England Under-18 Sam Harris explosive attack released Kacey Pike on a powerful surge up field. The Number 8 had options either side and decided to release Ashton who ran home superbly from 30 yards.
Exeter replied twice before the break to level matters and set up an interesting second period. Emulating their senior counterparts, Barnaby Elderkin crossed from a fast-moving maul ahead of Louie Drennan crashing over out wide.
As the pitch devolved into a muddy battleground, Bath found a second wind and turning over a scrum, Harris orchestrated proceedings to march the home team deep into Chiefs territory, forcing a penalty 10 metres out. Kicking to touch, a huge drive from the line-out resulted in replacement hooker Tommy McLean barging over and Harris nailing a kick from out wide.
At 19-12 and the game in the balance, Bath made sure they were the side that were going to win the game. In the dying embers of the contest, the impressive Harris found himself with time and dinked a lovely grubber through, gathered on the slide and managed to find the finishing touch to record the win.
BATH RUGBY U18
15 James Redman (Beechen Cliff School), 14 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour (Marlborough College), 13 Will Parry (Sherborne School), 12 Sam Harris © (Millfield School), 11 Max Ashton (Beechen Cliff School), 10 Raff Weston (Beechen Cliff School), 9 Ieuan Davies (Millfield School); 1 Tom Hill (Wells Cathedral School), 2 Max Pearce © (Millfield School), 3 Billy Sela (Beechen Cliff School), 4 Eddie Erskine (Millfield School), 5 Max Jenkins (Millfield School), 6 George Timmins (Millfield School), 7 Jack Haythornthwaite (Beechen Cliff School), 8 Kacey Pike (Beechen Cliff School)
16 Tommy McLean (Beechen Cliff School), 17 Max Surry (Downside School), 18 Ellis Baker (Millfield School), 19 Alex Salah (King Edward’s School), 20 Harvey Matthews (Beechen Cliff School), 21 Sam Curwen (Millfield School), 22 Rory Crum (Beechen Cliff School), 23 JJ O’Connell-Wozniak (Beechen Cliff School)