Fixture: Team Bath Rugby 1st team v UWIC 1st team
Date: Saturday 10 December 2011
Score: Team Bath 22 UWIC 17
Venue: UWIC, Cyncoed Campus, Cardiff
This fixture had been rearranged from two weeks earlier as the pitches had been waterlogged due to bad weather.
This had a huge affect on the University of Bath’s 1st XV squad as it meant playing three games in one week which in turn meant injuries to players and tired bodies.
In previous years, a trip to UWIC always led to one thing, a defeat. Therefore if the team were to get a result they wanted, it would have to be a huge team effort from all involved.
The last time these to universities met, Bath had beaten UWIC 18 – 0.
Not many teams beat a team of UWIC’s calibre but to do it without them scoring a point was something special and all players travelling to Cardiff knew that they were going to want to prove a point.
The game started and Bath showed early on their intentions. Play was being shipped from side to side with the game plan of tiring the opponents.
A key axis within the team was the partnership between fly half Zak Vinnicombe and inside centre Paul Roberts who controlled the game exceptionally well and ensured the team played in the right areas of the field.
Team Bath’s forwards were outstanding on the day, particularly at the scrum. Led by props Tom Meatyard and Max Ashcroft and also hooker Max Anderson, they took the fight to UWIC and showed early dominance at the set piece, crucial if you are to achieve victory at UWIC.
The first points were awarded to UWIC after a Bath player was penalised for not rolling away. These points were soon cancelled out by Vinnicombe and so the tussle continued. Both fly halves were taking their kicks, however Vinnicombe converted all of his meaning Bath went into half time ahead, 12-9.
The second half began and the pressure and tension mounted for both sides. UWIC had a clear tactic of kicking for territory but with an outstanding performance from Bath’s full back Toby May, the rest of his team mates knew that this would lead to nothing as he patrolled the field with such purpose and skill.
UWIC levelled the score lines soon after and the game was clearly winnable for either side. All either side needed was a moment of magic from any player and it would put them in the driving seat.
This opportunity fell to Bath in the most unlikely of players. Replacement prop Sam Saunders burrowed his way into a maul and came straight out the other side with the ball in his hands. He scuttled up the pitch for 40 metres only to be tackled by the UWIC full back.
A couple of phases ensued until a majestic chip from fly half Vinnicombe was collected by Roberts and he was prevented from scoring just short of the line.
From the resulting ruck, the ball was shipped wide and collected by second row Hugo Govett who crashed over the line, taking two UWIC defenders with him. The try was converted by Vinnicombe meaning the score was 19-12 to Bath.
UWIC responded well with serious pressure being put on the away side. This wasn’t helped by the two sin-bins that Bath had received so sheer determination and bravery were the only way they were going to keep UWIC at bay.
Not surprisingly, with two forwards off the field, UWIC kicked to the corner and from the lineout, managed to drive their way over the line. 19-17. The kick would mean the scores would be tied and up stepped the UWIC fly half. He missed, Bath were still leading.
The end of the game was insight but all players were under a lot of pressure. The tackling effort from all players was outstanding, the commitment superb. From the defence came an opportunity to turn the ball over. This happened and Bath moved up the field.
Bath had a lineout and threw to the inspirational figure of Captain Jamie Collins. As he received the ball, a UWIC forward pulled him to the floor meaning an opportunity for Vinnicombe to increase the score. He duly converted with a few minutes left to play.
UWIC were throwing everything at Bath. They received a penalty and once again kicked to the corner, hoping to score another push over try. Up steps Collins again and steals the ball from the lineout.
Two phases later, the clock was up. All players were shouting to kick the ball out and replacement scrum half George Stephenson calmly responded.
The final score University of Bath 22 – UWIC 17.
An outstanding achievement from all involved which proves the commitment, desire, skill and team ethos that is being displayed by all members of the University of Bath rugby squad.