The University of Bath men’s 1st XV are just one win from Twickenham after a dramatic 20-19 victory in Tuesday’s BUCS Rugby Championship quarter-final at Durham University.
However, Durham twice had chances to win it in the closing stages through Charlie Norman penalties but the fly-half pulled his first kick wide and saw the second come back off the uprights.
Bath – sponsored by IKON Construction – will now visit the winners of the quarter-final between BUCS Super Rugby champions Hartpury College and Leeds Beckett next week, looking to book their place in the grand final at Twickenham.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “We had a bit of luck at the end but we defended really well and the boys worked so hard. We said on the way here that we would have to put in a shift tonight and we did just that, I am really pleased with them.”
Captain Will Britton added: “It was an absolute dogfight from the start but we knew it would be a very physical game. Bring on the semi-finals!”
The University of Bath had visited Durham just a fortnight ago for the last match of the BUCS Super Rugby league season, coming from behind to record a 25-19 victory.
And they got off to a storming start in Tuesday’s quarter-final as they drove over from a lineout for the opening try inside two minutes, hooker George Frampton getting the touchdown.
Durham responded well and levelled when winger Rob Stevenson collected a clever kick to the corner to make it 5-5. That put the hosts on the front foot and, after sustained pressure on the Bath line, captain Brodie Wilson barged over for a try converted by Norman.
The momentum swung back in the visitors’ favour in the latter stages of the half and a Hugo Stiles penalty closed the gap to 12-8 before, following a series of pick and gos, prop Conor McGrath dived over to put Bath 13-12 up at half-time.
The second period proved equally competitive, with Durham drawing first blood as Bath were penalised at a succession of scrums on their line. McGrath was eventually sin-binned and the hosts awarded a penalty try which Norman converted.
It was Durham’s turn to be reduced to 14 players ten minutes before full-time as the visitors ramped up the pressure. They were repelled by some spirited defending before the ball was spread wide for winger Rowland to charge over in the corner.
Flinn was left with a difficult kick from the touchline but he held his nerve to nail the conversion and restore Bath’s narrow advantage, which they managed to hold onto during a frantic last few minutes.
Watch the match in full here:
University of Bath starting XV: 1 Conor McGrath, 2 George Frampton, 3 Alex Wood, 4 Scott Russell, 5 Will Britton (c), 6 Jack Davies, 7 Mike Snook, 8 Tom Kynge, 9 Will Flinn, 10 George Humphrey, 11 Jake Allen, 12 Charlie Dunbar, 13 Robbie De Bruyan, 14 Craig Duncan, 15 Hugo Stiles. Replacements: 16 Jordi Den Hartog, 17 Jack Buckingham, 18 Austin Hay, 19 Freddie Avis, 20 Adam McCarthy, 21 Dan Rowland, 22 Ludo Hopkinson, 23 Jack Turner, 24 Chris Barry.