University of Bath put on a strong performance in their 31-21 defeat against an experienced Leeds Beckett side in the final game of the 2019/20 BUCS Super Rugby league season.
Bath twice led during an exhilarating first-half at the University of Bath Sports Training Village thanks to well-crafted tries from Elliot Berryman and George Worboys, but were pegged back by the visitors, who took a 21-14 advantage into the break.
They scored again midway through the second period but Team Bath refused to let the game get away from them, as it had during a heavy defeat at Hartpury last week, and they notched the final try of the game through Caley Gray.
Just five minutes were on the clock when second-row forwards James Fitzmaurice and Berryman combined brilliantly for the hosts, the former punching through a gap in the Leeds defence before offloading for his partner to power over in the corner. Worboys added an excellent conversion from the touchline. [7-0]
Leeds hit back strongly but were kept at bay by some excellent Team Bath defending before the pressure finally told when prop Conrad Cade burrowed over and Steffan James levelled the scoreboard. [7-7]
The home side responded well to the setback and regained the lead with a brilliant solo try from Worboys, the Bath Rugby Academy fly-half breaking through a tackle and then producing a brilliant burst of pace to race over from 35 yards. [14-7]
A penalty try just after the half-hour mark restored parity as Leeds edged ahead on the stroke of half-time. [14-14]
The visitors exerted pressure on the Bath line, which ended with No. 8 Nick Brown crashing over. James’ conversion was the last kick of the half. [21-14]
Half-time - University of Bath 14-21 Leeds Beckett
A scrappy second period saw Leeds use their extra strength and power in the pack to put the hosts on the back foot. Prop Will French was sin-binned as Leeds applied pressure at scrum time and, after several resets, the ball was eventually spread wide for Will Lewin to score the bonus-point fourth try. [14-28]
University of Bath fought their way back into the contest with great determination and deservedly closed the gap to 28-21 when hooker Gray found a gap following a series of phases on the Leeds line. [21-28]
Shortly after, Leeds thought they had scored again when centre Charlie Dixon ran in but the try was disallowed for crossing. However, play was called back for an offside decision against Team Bath and Leeds elected to take the kick, James’ penalty securing the victory. [21-31]
Full-time - University of Bath 21-31 Leeds Beckett
Team Bath placed eighth in the final league table and have qualified for the end-of-season knock-out competition.
They face a tough first step on the road to Twickenham, an away quarter-final against newly-crowned champions Durham on Wednesday 18th March (18:30).