Bath take hard-fought rugby win over Bristol

12 December 2009

The University of Bath Mens’ Rugby 1sts got their BUCS Premier South A campaign off to a flying start with a hard fought 15-8 victory over local rivals Bristol last week.
Wet conditions at The Rec meant that try-scoring opportunities were hard to come by, and it was ultimately Bath’s kicking which saw off a spirited Bristol challenge.
Both teams certainly struggled at the start of the game to keep hold of the ball, and penalties were given away on both sides. Tom Lukjaniec missed his first attempt on three minutes from a tight angle, and this was punished soon after as Bristol’s James Bird struck one between the sticks to nudge his side ahead.
Bristol began pressing into Bath territory, and spurned two more opportunities in the shape of a missed drop goal and penalty. Lukjaniec was then given the chance to make amends for his earlier miss, with a kick from a much friendlier angle, and this time he made no mistake.
Bristol responded brightly, and Bird was unlucky to see a penalty kick from 45 metres cannon back off the upright. Bristol were left to rue these misses, as Lukjaniec converted another penalty on the stroke of half time to give Bath a 6-3 lead.
After a rather turgid first half, the game exploded into life three minutes into the second with the only try of the game. A tap penalty was taken 25 metres out by the Bristol scrum-half Greg Nicholls, catching the Bath defence off guard. He took on two players before offloading to Harrison Edward, who dived into the corner for the score.
Bath responded very well and, with the Bristol try unconverted, they were able to regain the lead two minutes later thanks to a great 45 metre kick from outside-centre Matt Spelman. Luke Carter, a half time replacement for Lukjaniec, hit the post with his first penalty attempt, but got it right with the next one soon after to give Bath a four point advantage.
By now, Bath were dominating the game, recycling the ball quickly as they tried to find holes in the Bristol rearguard. Bristol conceded another penalty four minutes from time, which Carter duly dispatched to seal the win.
This week, the Mens’ 1st XV take on last year’s semi-finalists Exeter in their second match of the championships. It promises to be a tough encounter, yet one which they would like to overcome if they are to go far.

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