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Report: Bristol Rugby 31-34 Bath Rugby

Bristol Rugby launched a strong second half fightback, but couldn’t prevent a narrow pre-season defeat to Bath on Saturday.

Pat Lam’s men trailed by twenty-seven points at the break, but three unanswered tries in the second half saw the hosts hit back to 31-34 at the full-time whistle.

Tom Varndell, Aaron Chapman, Jordan Williams, Dan Thomas and debutant Luke Morahan all went over for Bristol at the Clifton RFC training base.


 

WHAT HAPPENED?

It was the hosts who controlled the lion’s share of the early possession, but Bath who struck first, breaking the deadlock with a Josh Lewis penalty goal on the quarter hour.

Jack Walker extended the visitor’s lead when the hooker rumbled over from close range for a converted try soon after.

And Bath added a second midway through the first period as Zach Mercer capitalised on Tom Homer’s smart break to muscle his way across the whitewash as the visitors moved 0-17 ahead.

Bath continued to enjoy the ascendancy when Darren Allinson’s quickly taken penalty resulted in a try under the posts, converted by Josh Lewis.

But Bristol Rugby found a route back into the game as Tom Varndell and Charlie Powell combined superbly to put Varndell over in the corner on the half hour mark.

Late in the first period, Bath struck twice in quick succession as wingers Jack Wilson and Matt Banahan both touched down for unconverted tries.

Jason Harris-Wright on the charge versus Bath Rugby (via JMPUK)

Trailing 7-34 at the half time break, Bristol came out of the traps quickly and reduced arrears with two tries in as many minutes.

First, Aaron Chapman stretched over after a flowing counter, before Jordan Williams touched down following a stunning fifty metre break, while Callum Sheedy added the conversion.

The fightback continued on the hour mark as Dan Thomas spotted a gap to cross through a pile of bodies, moving Bristol within ten points at 24-34.

In the final play of the game, Luke Morahan capped an impressive team performance in the second forty, finishing off a slick move to go in under the posts on his club debut.

Aaron Chapman crosses during a resurgent second half display (via JMPUK)

PHOTO OF THE GAME

Full back Jordan Williams on his way to a superb solo try (via JMPUK)

KEY MOMENT

Luke Morahan's composure saw the debutant cross in the final play of the game to take Bristol Rugby back within three points at the final whistle.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Joe Latta delivered an impressive second half display, linking up well in attack and looking solid at the set-piece. An assured display by the Kiwi lock.

THE TEAMS

Bristol Rugby:

Soane Tonga’uiha, Jason Harris-Wright, Gaston Cortes, Joe Joyce, Joe Batley, Nick Fenton-Wells, Olly Robinson, Nick Haining, Alex Giltrow (trialist), Jack O’Connell, Ross McMillan, Sione Faletau, John Hawkins, Joe Latta, Sam Jeffries, Dan Thomas, Jordan Crane, Tyler Gendall, Jack Cosgrove, Jordon Liney, Ehize Ehizode, Jack Lam, Jordan Williams, Mat Protheroe, Ryan Edwards, Aaron Chapman (trialist), Jack Tovey, Matt Welsh, Sam Bedlow, James Newey, Tom Varndell, Charlie Powell (Academy U18s), Billy Searle, Callum Sheedy, Ian Madigan, Reiss Cullen, Ryan Glynn, Rhodri Williams, Tusi Pisi, Luke Morahan.

Bath Rugby:

Tom Homer; Jack Wilson, Max Clark, Rory Jennings, Matt Banahan; Josh Lewis, Darren Allinson; Nick Auterac, Jack Walker, Shaun Knight, Elliott Stooke, James Phillips, Matt Garvey (c), Josh Bayliss, Zach Mercer.

Replacements from:

Nathan Charles, Beno Obano, Kane Palma-Newport, Luke Charteris, Guy Mercer, Chris Cook, Will Homer, Rhys Priestland, Harry Davies, Wil Partington, Darren Atkins, Ben Tapuai, Levi Davis.