Frustration as late penalty brings Team Bath’s BUCS Super Rugby winning run to an end against Cardiff Met
Team Bath men’s 1st XV saw their BUCS Super Rugby winning run come to an end as they were edged out 29-26 by fellow high-fliers Cardiff Met at the University of Bath Sports Training Village tonight.
Harry Johnston’s penalty five minutes from time ultimately proved to be the difference in a feisty, physical affair between two evenly-matched sides who were separated by just one point going into the fixture.
It was a frustrating defeat for the Blue & Gold, sponsored by Fulkers and MJ Church, who battled back from 13-0 down in a disappointing first half to take the lead in the second period before letting what would have been a fifth successive victory slip away in the closing stages.
Head of Rugby Aaron James said: “We’re disappointed. I’m pleased with the boys’ ambition but we made too many mistakes at lineouts and the breakdown. The guys are all quite aware of that and we just need to address that.”
Captain Tom Doughty added: “Fair play to Cardiff Met, they stuck with it to the end. We didn’t perform to probably 85 per cent of what we can do and we have only fallen three points short, so I’m proud of the boys for the effort but we need to perform better than that if we want to push on.”
Team Bath were forced into a last-minute reshuffle following an injury to winger Brandon Bellamin in the warm-up. Hugo Stiles moved back to the wing, Will Hughes replaced him at full-back and Miles Gilbert came in at centre, with fresher Max Waitman being drafted onto the bench.
An error-strewn first quarter saw both teams fumble when in good positions and make mistakes from their set pieces but it was Cardiff Met who struck first when number eight Scott Harvey barged over after pressure on the Bath line.
Russell Bennett added the extras and also kicked a penalty to put the visitors 10-0 up before both teams were reduced to 14 men when tighthead props Kieran Verden and Harry Seward were yellow-carded as tempers boiled over for the second time during a feisty first half.
Team Bath were not at their best, as illustrated when two of their players both went for an overthrown Cardiff Met lineout and ended up colliding before conceding a penalty which Bennett again slotted over.
The home side demonstrated their quality moments later, though, with a fine try. A tap penalty from the quick-thinking Alex Burrage caught the visiting defence flat-footed and while the initial break was repelled, a neat offload from Ed Rimmer sent Jack Kenningham racing over.
Stiles added the conversion but Team Bath’s hard work was immediately undone as, straight from the restart, Cardiff Met winger George Gladding was able to break down the flank before passing inside for supporting full-back Tom Benjamin to touch down. Bennett missed the conversion.
Team Bath grabbed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when they forced a lineout on the Cardiff Met line and, from the subsequent catch and drive, Chris Barry was able to barge over. Stiles’ conversion cut the deficit to 18-14.
A Bennett penalty put the visitors 21-14 up during a scrappy start to the second period but Team Bath drew level just before the hour as, following repeated sortees on the Cardiff Met line, Alex Nisbett found space to go over and Stiles added the extras.
The hosts then went ahead for the first time as they once again unleashed their trademark lineout catch and drive to great effect, with captain Doughty – fresh from making his senior Bath Rugby debut against Newcastle Falcons last week – bagging his fifth try of the season and securing another four-try bonus point for his team.
However, as in the first half, Team Bath allowed the visitors to respond immediately as a fantastic break from inside his own half by Benjamin set up a try for winger Chris Lewis.
With both conversions having been missed, the scores were locked at 26-26 but Cardiff Met edged ahead again when replacement Johnston kicked a penalty with five minutes remaining.
There was still time for Team Bath to twice work good positions in the remaining minutes but both times they conceded possession cheaply as hopes of a fifth successive victory fell narrowly short.
They will be looking for an immediate response next Wednesday (November 21) when they play host to Durham, looking to avenge a narrow defeat at Rosslyn Park RFC in the second match of the season. Kick-off is 6.30pm and entry is free.
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Will Hughes, 14 Finn Murphy, 13 Miles Gilbert, 12 Alex Nisbett, 11 Hugo Stiles, 10 Alex Burrage, 9 Ed Rimmer; 1 George Cave, 2 Tom Doughty (c), 3 Kieran Verdan, 4 Kas Eelman, 5 Jordan Martin, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Chris Barry, 8 James Catlin. Replacements: 16 James Hadfield, 17 Austin Hay, 18 Simone Ngeng, 19 Tom Ireland-Life, 20 Josh Lilly, 21 George Wootton, 22 Max Waitman, 23 Will Stride.
Tries: Kenningham, Barry, Nisbett, Doughty.
Conversions: Stiles 3.
Cardiff Met starting XV: 15 Tom Benjamin, 14 Chris Lewis, 13 Luke Northmere, 12 Jack Wright, 11 George Gladding, 10 Russell Bennett, 9 Matt Marsh; 1 Sam Cochrane, 2 Jack Samuel, 3 Harry Seward, 4 Jac Arthur (c), 5 Edoardo Balocco, 6 Will Gibson, 7 Dawid Rubasniak, 8 Scott Harvey. Replacements: 16 Shawn Howard, 17 Dan Kennett, 18 Olly Andrews, 19 Tom Pearson, 20 Aled Ward, 21 Laurie Essenhigh, 22 Harry Johnston, 23 Barrie Karea.
Tries: Harvey, Benjamin, Lewis.
Penalties: Bennett 3, Johnston.
Referee: Jordan Way.
Assistant referees: Charlie Gayther, Oli Carey.