From Team Bath: The University of Bath men’s 1st XV reigned in the rain as they fought out a 25-20 victory over Cardiff Met in front of another huge crowd at The Rec for their annual Anniversary Game fixture.
Player of the match Scott Kirk’s try 20 minutes from time proved to be the difference on a night when fellow Bath Rugby Academy forwards Jasper Spandler and Jack Bennett also touched down for the hosts.
Iwan Price-Thomas added 10 points with the boot as Bath came out on top in an absorbing BUCS Super Rugby match sponsored by Colour Studios and Dragon Signs.
Former Wales and British & Irish Lions international Lee Byrne presented the Anniversary Game trophy, on behalf of the sponsors, to co-captains Tom Cowan and Ludo Kolade to a huge cheer from a packed Tribute Stand.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Kolade. “We had really high expectations going into the game and were determined to get our first win of the season. With the support of 6,000 fans behind us all the way, right through to the 80th minute, we were able to pull it off.
“The conditions were horrible but there is nothing better than playing at The Rec – it gives you energy, it gives you spirit and I think that showed. We put a lot of emphasis on this game and it’s paid off, we can enjoy ourselves tonight.”
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, added: “I’m really proud of the boys and pleased they got some reward for their efforts. For the supporters to come out in the rain like they did was truly appreciated, they really made the event a spectacle. Thank you to everyone – the SU, the University of Bath, Team Bath, the supporters and the sponsors – for making this another fantastic night to remember.”
Torrential rain fell in the hours building up to the match and throughout the game but that did not deter thousands of fans turning out to cheer on the home team, while Cardiff Met received good support from a large travelling contingent.
Bath were greeted by a huge roar as they took to the pitch and The Rec erupted again three minutes into the match as Price-Thomas confidently slotted over a penalty for the hosts.
Met immediately responded in kind through opposing fly-half Sam Berry but Price-Thomas was on target again in the 12th minute to give Bath a 6-3 lead.
It was the visitors who notched the first try of the night, though, as a period of pressure on the Bath line led to flanker Evan Sheldon forcing his way over. Berry added the extras.
Back came Bath and a mistake at the back by Met allowed the hosts to unleash their lineout drive to good effect, hooker Spandler scoring for the second successive Anniversary Game.
However, Met had the last word in the first half as, with Bath looking to have seen off an attack, Rory Morgan gathered in a loose ball in the 22 and looked up to see Steff Crimp in acres of space on the right. The centre collected the chip kick and slid over the line before Berry added an excellent conversion to give the visitors a 17-11 lead at half-time.
Bath were attacking a packed South Stand in the second half and they gave the fans plenty to cheer in the 50th minute when a fantastic break, led by Price-Thomas and Kolade, took the hosts into the Met 22. They patiently probed the visitors’ line and were rewarded when flanker Bennett forced his way under the posts, leaving Price-Thomas with a simple conversion.
A Berry penalty from the restart edged Met in front again but the crowd were pushing Bath forward and they regained the lead in the 57th minute when they forced a scrum five metres out and prop Kirk burrowed over for a well-deserved try. Price-Thomas again added the extras.
As large puddles grew on the pitch, the last 20 minutes became increasingly scrappy with the only notable scoring opportunity being a Bath penalty which replacement Raff Weston dragged narrowly wide. Not that the home team or fans minded, though, as the final whistle was greeted by the loudest roar of the night.
Next up for the Bath Building Society-sponsored University of Bath men’s 1st XV is another ‘home’ match on the road, with Chippenham RFC’s Allington Fields ground hosting the West Country derby against Hartpury on Wednesday 25th October (2pm kick-off).
University of Bath starting XV: 1 Scott Kirk, 2 Jasper Spandler, 3 Billy Sela, 4 Mackenzie Graham, 5 Josh Dingley, 6 Jack Bennett, 7 Tom Cowan (cc), 8 Ted Johnson; 9 Elis Horgan, 10 Iwan Price-Thomas, 11 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, 12 Ludo Kolade (cc), 13 James Short, 14 Oli Sedgwick, 15 Austin Emens. Replacements: 16 Max Pearce, 17 Archie Stanley, 18 Zak Giannini, 19 Will Jeanes, 20 Eddie Erskine, 21 Evan Jones, 22 Ieuan Davies, 23 Raff Weston.
Tries: Spandler, Bennett, Kirk.
Conversions: Price-Thomas 2.
Penalties: Price-Thomas 2.
Cardiff Met starting XV: 1 Joe Cowell, 2 Evan Wood, 3 Conall Couch, 4 Brandon Harvey, 5 Barnaby Waddell, 6 Evan Sheldon, 7 Ewan Guy (c), 8 Bertie Taylor; 9 Rory Morgan, 10 Sam Berry, 11 Joshuah Carrington, 12 Gus Patterson, 13 Steff Crimp, 14 Toby Baldwin, 15 Steff Davies. Replacements: 16 Connor Chapman, 17 Ben Murphy, 18 Liam Newstead, 19 Gethyn Cannon, 20 Josh Hart, 21 Keian Richards, 22 Ross McKay, 23 Sam Trodd.
Tries: Sheldon, Crimp.
Conversions: Berry 2.
Penalties: Berry 2.
Referee: Neil Sweeney.
Assistant referees: Dan Evans, Dave Philpott.