Bath Rugby Under-18s defeated in Academy League opener

Bath Rugby Under-18s were backed by a large crowd under the Friday Night Lights at Chippenham RFC, but were beaten 27-12 in a high intensity West Country derby against Bristol Bears. 

The junior Blue, Black and Whites had a strong first half in which Will Parry raced in for a try in the corner, however hooker James Randall’s try added to a Rhys Price penalty to give Bears a slender half-time advantage. 

In the second half, Bristol remained on top with Ollie Thraves and Jimmy Halliwell crashing over ahead of a consolation from Bath wing Max Ashton.

Bath roared out the gate at the start of the game with a series of massive hits and though Bears used the full width, an admirable blue-wall defence forced a number of turnovers. As the game got into the thick of it, both sides utilised a strong kicking game, with the high winds causing chaos for those receiving the kick. 

The hosts started to pile on the pressure, starting with great hands down the right to Number 8 Arthur Green. As the pressure mounted, centre Parry found space down the line and a strong hand off later, went over in the corner. An excellent conversion, despite the swirling breeze, and Bath took an early lead.

The Bath defence continued to hold, defending a five-metre scrum and tackling strongly to drag the Bears back to halfway. With a plethora of smooth offloads from the Bath pack, the opposition had to match their intensity in defence. Bristol ground the Bath defence down and when they conceded a penalty, Price stepped up to get their first points on the board.

Bath scrum-half Ieuan Davies’ special awareness was on show as he delivered a couple of fantastic dinks over the top – not too dissimilar to Orlando Bailey’s beauty against Bristol for the senior side – and they caused havoc in the backfield, allowing the home team to win the ball back deep in Bristol territory. After a number of picks from the base of the ruck, Bath opted to go wide but Bristol’s line speed proved effective and removed any danger.

Defence turned into attack for the Bears and they got their rewards as Randall flopped over from a huge maul to turn the score on its head.

In the second period, Bears went on the offensive early on, with Bath struggling to get out of their own 22. The visitors ran hard lines, continually asking questions of a defence which had been putting in consistently destructive shots. However, in similar fashion to their first try, Thraves made his way to the line via a maul drive.

Bath fought back through strong carries from the likes of Archie McKibben which advanced his side up to the opposition’s 10. However, following excellent defensive resilience, Bristol managed to win the ball back and carry uwell, before finding space out wide. Exceptional last-ditch defending saw Bath thwart the Bears just before the line but the Bristol forwards regrouped and Halliwell barged his way over.

Bath refused to lie down. Immediately winning the ball back from restart, a combination of thunderous carries and intelligent running saw them march up field, utilising full width of the pitch. It looked like Bears had stopped all possible outcomes until Sam Harris’ sumptuous cross-field kick nestled into the hands of Ashton for a wonderful try.

But Bristol saw out the close contest as Lucas Berti slotted a long-range penalty to seal an opening day victory. 

An entertaining encounter with a lot of hard work and talent from both sides.


Bath Rugby U18: 15 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour (Marlborough College), 14 McKenzi Rawlings (Beechen Cliff School), 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 Eric Nixon-Castillo (Millfield School), 2 Max Pearce (Millfield School), 3 Billy Sela (Beechen Cliff School), 4 Eddie Erskine (Millfield School), 5 Will Jeanes (Beechen Cliff School), 6 Max Jenkins (Millfield School), 7 Archie McKibben (Millfield School), 8 Arthur Green © (Sherborne School)

Replacements: 16 Tommy McLean (Beechen Cliff School), 17 Tom Hill (Wells Cathedral School), 18 Ellis Baker (Millfield School), 19 George Timmins (Millfield School), 20 Kacey Pike (Beechen Cliff School), 21 Sam Curwen (Millfield School), 22 Harry Carson (Millfield School), 23 Rory Crum (Beechen Cliff School)

Bristol Bears U18: 15 Sami Hamid, 14 Gabe Lacey, 13 Tom Stolliday, 12 Lucas Berti, 11 Jamie Wood, 10 Henry Hawkins, 9 Rhys Price; 1 Louis Trevett, 2 James Randall, 3 Billy Moran, 4 Ollie Thraves, 5 Paddy Pearce, 6 Aaron Tull ©, 7 Charlie Cox, 8 Ed Harvey

Replacements: 16 George Davey, 17 Louis White, 18 Jimmy Halliwell, 19 Ted Harrison, 20 Archie Prewett, 21 Pete Carter, 22 Tom Ormsby, 23 Isaac Cambell Wu


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