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Plymouth provide tougher test

Bath endured the sterner examination that Steve Meehan had demanded in their third warm-up match of the pre-season campaign, eventually emerging victorious over Plymouth Albion by 31-17.

Although they were 14-0 up just after midway through the first half, they allowed Plymouth back into the game with a string of penalties, and throughout the match found themselves tested up front. They could have expected nothing less of a side coached by the veteran Graham Dawe - not playing on this occasion, but not yet retired from the field himself.

Bath did not help themselves by turning over the ball with a frequency that will not have pleased the coaches, and was equally frustrating to the many supporters who had made the trip to Brickfields.

That said, both first-half tries were clinical. The first came after a lineout, the result of a penalty kicked to touch. Jonny Faamatuainu took the ball, and it made its way out through the hands to the left. Nick Abendanon was brought down short, but Short made it over. Gareth Delve then scored after both Matt Banahan and Pieter Dixon showed turns of pace on the right wing, the latter giving the scoring pass.

Thereafter, turnovers cost the visitors territory and possession, and the pace of Tom Arscott, Plymouth's 18-year-old right wing, also posed a severe threat. This was seen once in the first half when he cut inside Ryan Davis and feinted to chip the cover, but more often after half-time. Early on, he showed his pace down the right wing, just putting a foot in touch, and in the 64th minute the slightest ankle tap by Mike Mangeolles prevented him from scoring under the posts.

Bath still had reason to be pleased, when Travagli charged down Ed Barnes's attempted clearance and followed up to claim the try. Travagli's miss-pass to George Hughes after a break by Chris Goodman then sent Davis over the line. Meanwhile, Neethling had kicked a fourth successful penalty in as many attempts, but slick hands in the Bath backs - among them Abendanon and Banahan - sent Mangeolles over, a well-deserved score after the young centre's hard and conspicuous work all day.

However, the hosts were to have the last word. Bath seemed to be heading for another score, when Neethling intercepted with a 70-metre clear run ahead of. Alas for him, the referee had been playing advantage for a penalty, and his sprint was aborted. But Arscott contined to cause problems, and eventually Martin Rice drove over from a lineout, to notch a try that could hardly be begrudged.

Meehan, Acting Head Coach, spoke highly of the contribution and improvement shown by his side as individuals: "We knew that we had competition for spots and this has confirmed it," he said.

BATH: 15. N Abendanon 14. I Davey (rep: Hughes, 35-41) 13. R Davis 12. M Mangeolles 11. M Banahan 10. O Barkley (Cozens, 80+2) 9. P Travagli (Alford, 65) 1. D Barnes (Jarvis, 63) 2. P Dixon (Ward, 41) 3. C Loader (Ovens, 63) 4. R Fidler (Faamatuainu, 70) 5. J Faamatuainu (Smith, 41) 6. P.Short 7. J Scaysbrook (Goodman, 41) 8.G Delve (Scaysbrook, 72).
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. A Jarvis 19. D Smith 20. C Goodman 21.S Alford 22. G Hughes 23. C Brooker 24. L Cozens.

PLYMOUTH ALBION: 15. W Neethling 14. T Arscott 13. K Fisilau (Saumi, 67) 12. A Cruickshanks 11. N Sestaret (Ritchie, 80+2) 10. E Barnes (Delaney, 80+2) 9. E Lewsey (Cane, 80+6) 1. T Mathias (Rice, 41) 2. J Owen (Oxley, 31) 3. S Zimmerman (Mathias, 42) 4. C Stewart 5. B Gulliver (Lewis, 69) 6. B Stroud (Genoud, 77) 7. D Thomas (capt) 8. C Lowrie (Hayes, 54).
Replacements: N Cane, D Delaney, N Saumi, M Rice, R Oxley, M Lewis, T Hayes, D Ritchie, F Genoud.

Scorers:
11: Try Short, Con Barkley, 0-7
24: Try Delve, Con Barkley, 0-14
31: Pen Neethling, 3-14
36: Pen Neethling, 6-14
40+2: Pen Neethling, 9-14
46: Pen Neethling, 12-14
55: Try Travagli, 12-19
60: Try Banahan, 12-24
76: Try Mangeolles Con Barkley, 12-31
80+4: Try Rice, 17-31

Referee: N Higginson
Attendance: 3,000

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