Bath United put on a valiant display in tonight's Aviva A League semi-final, but the experience of the Worcester Cavaliers told, the home side winning 37-26.
An early penalty from Will Homer gave United the lead, but was cancelled out on nine minutes by a drop goal from Cavaliers' Argentinian fly-half, Ignacio Mieres. It looked as if the home side were on for the try after the experienced pack had driven close to the line. Instead, Mieres opted for the three points to make things all square on the scoreboard. 3-3.
The power of the home pack told six minutes later, when James Percival went over from short range following the lineout. Mieres added the conversion to take the lead to 10-3.
United were quick to respond and some brilliant vision from fly-half Rory Jennings saw Richard Lane cross unopposed. The lineout led to the ball being spread quickly across field, before Jennings switched play with a crossfield kick for Lane to latch onto. 10-8.
Another lineout allowed the forwards to draw in the Cavaliers' defence, creating space out wide for Jennings to put another perfectly weighted chip across the pitch for replacement Marcus Beer to latch onto and score. Homer couldn't find his range for the conversion, but United went into the break 10-13 up.
Half-time: Worcester Cavaliers 10 – Bath United 13.
The home side came out firing in the second-half, and within minutes of the kick-off former Bath flanker Mat Gilbert had crossed to give the Cavaliers the lead. 17-13.
Homer reduced the deficit with another penalty straight away as Cavaliers infringed from the re-start, but the home side hit back with another try, Josh Drauniniu going over in the corner. 22-16.
United's set-piece was functioning well, and the forwards soon earned a further penalty for Homer to send sailing between the posts. 22-19.
The Cavaliers' stole a move from United's book for their next try – Alex Grove chipping wide to find Leonardo Senatore unmarked on the wing. Mieres couldn't convert. 27-19.
As the game entered its final 10 minutes, United found themselves on the wrong side of referee Lloyd Linton. First Max Northcote-Green saw yellow for allegedly taking the man in the air, and he was followed by a bemused-looking Guy Mercer not long after.
Mieres had added a straight-forward penalty for the Cavaliers, and when Micky Young was sent-off, United were temporarily down to 12 men. It gave the home side the opportunity to exploit the space in the red zone, Richard de Carpentier finding replacement Charlie Mulchrone in support who then went over for the score. Mieres added the conversion, but United weren't giving up.
Having worked their way into the Cavaliers 22, the young United team fought hard to inch their way closer to the try-line, with Olly Woodburn crashing over for the consolation try. Homer added the extras on the final whistle.
Final score: Worcester Cavaliers 37 – Bath United 26.