Monday night rugby returned to the Rec tonight with Bristol Rugby taking the spoils in a closely fought derby for the opening Aviva A League fixture of the season.
Both teams were quick out of the blocks but it was the visitors who were first to break the deadlock. Fly-half Billy Searle was on target with the boot to secure the first three points after United were pinged at the scrum.
United tried to get a foothold in the game, Beno Obano looking dangerous at the breakdown with some big tackles, but a watchful Elias Caven intercepted a loose passs, sprinting 50 metres to score the opening try of the night. 0-8.
Dominating in both the territory and possession stats, Bristol were quick to add to their tally - lock Giorgi Nemsadze breaking from the scrum to slide over from short range. 0-13.
Another Bristol attack was quickly followed by another score, the United defence caught short after some quick work sent the ball out wide into the grateful hands of Rhodri Williams who barrelled over in the corner. 0-18.
United refused to lie down though, and quickly tried to establish some attacking momentum. After some patient build up play, and a stunning break by Aled Brew, Jeff Williams showed a clean pair of heels to dot down on the stroke of half-time. Jennings was faced with a tricky angle for the conversion, but the captain sent the ball sailing between the posts.
Half-time score: Bath United 7 – Bristol United 18.
United came out in the second half in a determined mood, and a Bristol infringement gave Jennings another shot at the posts. Another tricky kick was struck with conviction and moved United into double figures. 10-18.
With the bit between their teeth, United kept pressing. Adam Hastings spotted a gap in the Bristol defence and set off on a mazy run. The fly-half showed great strength to fend off four Bristol tacklers on his way to score a superb solo try. Jennings again showed he’d brought his kicking boots to move United to within a point of the visitors with the conversions. 17-18.
Searle earned his side a little more breathing space with a penalty and then sparked another strong passage of play from the visitors who finally turned pressure into points with a try from prop James Hall. Searle found his range to add the extras. 17-28.
The closing 15 minutes were a scrappy affair, both sides making unforced errors allowing the pendulum of momentum to swing back and forth. The only points came from the boot of Jennings with another penalty. 20-28.
With time ticking, United tried to impose themselves in the game, launching wave after wave of attack but their efforts were in vain with some untimely handling errors leaving them short in their search for another try. Despite a late yellow card for Bristol replacement BJ Edwards, the away side were able to cling on for the win.
Final score: Bath United 20 – Bristol United 28
Bath United team:
- 15. Darren Atkins
- 14. Harry Davies
- 13. Aled Brew
- 12. Rory Jennings ( c )
- 11. Jeff Williams
- 10. Adam Hastings
- 9. Will Homer
- 1. Beno Obano
- 2. Michael van Vuuren
- 3. Max Lahiff
- 4. Elliott Stooke
- 5. Alex Humfrey
- 6. Levi Douglas
- 7. Josh Bayliss
- 8. Mat Gilbert
- 16. Gabriel Oghre
- 17. Will Vaughan
- 18. Alex Wood
- 19. Will Britton
- 20. Alex Weighton
- 21. Cameron Brown
- 22. Levi Davis
- 23. Liam Forsyth