Home Sports Bath Rugby v Bristol Bears verdict:

Bath Rugby v Bristol Bears verdict:

92
0

Now the dust has settled from Bristol Bears’ 40-20 away win at Bath Rugby on Saturday in Round 18 of the Gallagher Premiership, South West rugby writer John Evely delves deeper into the action and fallout from the game.

Bristol scored six tries in total with Max Malins dotting down twice and Nathan Hughes, Ben Earl and Charles Piutau scoring the others, with referee Luke Pearce awarding a penalty try.

Bath scored three tries, twice against the run of play in the first half with Anthony Watson touching down a hacked through kick from Cam Redpath following a drop from Charles Piutau and then Rhys Priestland picked off a pass from Callum Sheedy to run in from 40m out.

Watson crossed again in the second half from a wonderfully taken cross-field kick from Priestland in Bath’s highlight attacking moment from the contest.

Here are some of the key themes explored in more depth….

The record score still flatters Bath

It was Bristol’s record scoreline at The Recreation Ground in the 133-year history of this fixture which has seen the sides play each other 250 times.

The Bears had never scored more than 32 points at The Rec until Saturday when they ran in six tries to win 40-20.

But despite it being a record tally, Bath were truly lucky it wasn’t 60 plus!

On Saturday’s display, the gulf between the sides is not getting any smaller despite reducing the deficit on the scoreboard in comparison to the 48-3 thrashing at Ashton Gate back in January.

On another day Bristol could easily have scored at least another three tries if not more.

The visitors bombed multiple chances to score right from the kick-off.

With less than 90 seconds on the clock quick starters Bristol should have been over the whitewash as Callum Sheedy put in a perfectly weighted grubber kick in behind the home side’s defence for Siale Piutau to slide onto and gather, offloading to Chris Vui who in turn found a rampaging Kyle Sinckler.

The England prop was brought down deep into the Blue, Black and Whites’ 22 and had Andy Uren gone to his right, where there was space, rather than the left, there were players lining up to walk the ball over.

Luke Morahan twice had moments to forget as he cost the Bears a pair of tries, passing forward to Ben Earl to see a Max Malins’ try scrubbed off correctly by the TMO early in the first half before then knocking on close to the line in the build-up to Nathan Hughes dotting down from a cross-field kick.

So what’s the reflection? There is more to come from this Bristol offence and a team still might just get on the end of a demolition job.



Luke Morahan of Bristol Bears is challenged by Tom de Glanville of Bath Rugby

Bath’s backline devoid of ideas

Despite conceding 40 points in the end, Bath clearly went into the game with a game plan to stop Bristol which in part worked.

The Blue, Black and Whites successfully applied pressure to key playmaker Callum Sheedy before the visitors showed their class to adjust their attack.

In many ways Bath played a top game of defensive rugby; kicking for territory largely accurately, looking to force errors with a devilish kick-chase game led by Will Muir and Josh Bayliss and clinically taking their points from trips into the Bears’ 22.

The problem is, barring the pin-point cross-field kick from Rhys Priestland to Anthony Watson, the hosts looked largely clueless on how to beat Bristol’s defence, making just 267m in attack to the Bears’ 580- which is quiet by their standards.

The good news is new fly-half signing Danny Cipriani arrives at the club this week and quite simply it can’t come soon enough.

The former Gloucester man is renown for effectively becoming the attacking coach at the clubs he plays for and a shakeup in that department is exactly what is required at The Rec.

Everyone involved at Bath will hope he can be the spark to light up this backline or surely heads in the coaching staff are going to start to roll; after all the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.



Ben Earl of Bristol Bears

Bristol’s rucking game revolutionised

It is an old cliche that you learn more from defeat than victory, but the Bears perfectly displayed why you want a series of tough games heading into the business end of the season and the play-off games now to come, with Bristol officially securing a top four finish with four games to spare and surpassing their previous record league points tally in the Premiership from 2019/20.

In their previous outing, Bristol were completely undone at the ruck by defending champions Exeter Chiefs, who seemed to turn them over for fun and at will to set up a 20-12 victory.

Pre-match Bath director of rugby Hooper was asked whether that was something he had examined and intended to target, astutely he said the Bears would likey have made adjustments. He was right.

As it happened Bristol’s focus on the breakdown in the two weeks following the defeat to Exeter turned a perceived weakness into their super strength as they turned Bath over multiple times with well-timed and powerful counter rucks to delight Lam, collision coach Omar Mouneimne and forward coach John Muldoon – although it wasn’t just the forwards enjoying success in that area.

Poor management from Bath

While Bath were able to cling on and just shutdown Bristol’s glittering star-studded backline for large spells of the game, it was at the setpiece where they crumbled on Saturday – and not for the first time.

After the lineout disintegrated against Montpellier last weekend in the European Challenge Cup semi-final defeat it was much more functional against the Bears, but the scrum was in trouble from almost start to finish, with the situation exasperated by England international Will Stuart’s removal in the first half with a significant head knock.

First choice loosehead Beno Obano was forced to watch from the sidelines having been banned for five weeks for his red card offence against Wasps and second choice Juan Schoeman quite simply got dominated by a fired up Kyle Sinckler.

Just moments before Schoeman was yellow carded and conceded a penalty try, Bath’s management were about to pull the South African off the field as he was clearly in trouble and Scotland international Jamie Bhatti was in reserve, but they missed their window and Bristol drove home their advantage.

The penalty try brought Bristol back to within one point of Bath at 15-14 and the visitors never looked back.

The Bears are statistically the best team in the Premiership at exploiting having an extra man and so it proved on Saturday as Max Malins crossed while Bath were down to 14 to put his side ahead for the first time in the game.

Bristol scored a further two tries in the final 10 minutes of the match following Tom Dunn’s red card for the no arms shot to Semi Radradra’s head.



Steven Luatua of Bristol Bears

Problem-solving improvement from Bristol

Bristol showed further signs of their progression with the calm way they built themselves back into the game at the Rec with skipper Steven Luatua laying the all-important mental foundations.

Despite having dominated the opening forays without anything to show for it on the scoreboard, there was no panic at going 15-0 down.

The Bears went back to basics and battered Bath with their setpiece game, with Nathan Hughes crucially getting over the line from a 5-metre catch and drive lineout just before the break.

Lam said: “Getting a record score here after gifting them 15 points is a real credit to everyone, especially Stevie Luatua and the leadership group.

“We put a lot of emphasis on being calm under pressure, it is an emotional game being a derby, but Stevie drove us around and kept everyone as calm as they could and in control and we worked our way out of it.

“The message at half time was not to be fooled by the score, all of the opportunities we knew would be there when we studied Bath, and we trained for, were there, we just hadn’t been accurate in taking those chances.

“We said let’s work harder, smarter and be more accurate and it will come for us.”

The problem is you can’t afford to give the likes of Sale Sharks or Exeter Chiefs a 15-point buffer and expect to win and Lam knows that with both teams likely candidates to also make the play-offs.

Bristol Bears news straight to your phone!



Are you mad about Bristol Bears?

If so, you could receive the latest club news straight to your phone by signing up to our WhatsApp service.

Bristol Bears writer John Evely will send you links to the breaking stories, direct to your mobile, via the easy-to-use app.

Among the things you can expect are transfer news, interviews, match reports, injury updates, team news and live blogs. You could even use it to ask him a question.

If you would like to sign up, save the number 07715 770289 to your phone (you must do this to receive our messages), then send BRISTOL BEARS in a message to that number via WhatsApp. We recommend saving the contact to your mobile as ‘Bristol Bears News’.

To unsubscribe at any time, just send STOP BRISTOL BEARS via WhatsApp to the same number and you will be removed from the service. Your number will not be used for any purpose other than to update you on all things Bristol Bears.

Callum Sheedy injury update

With seven minutes remaining, and the game won, Pat Lam made a significant reshuffle to the backline as he brought fly-half Callum Sheedy off, with scrum-half Andy Uren finishing the game on the wing.

Post-match Lam provided a reassuring injury update on the Welsh international playmaker who was making his return from nerve damage picked up in the victory over Newcastle Falcons on April 17.

Lam said: “He was cramping. He was just cramping.

“Him and Stevie Luatua were both cramping.

“The conditions were tough in the rain. Taht was another thing that was pleasing as we trained all week in sunny weather but the rain came for the game, but at least the pitch was firmer than when we played before which is credit to the groundsmen here, but it was still tricky conditions so it was good to be able to work our way out it.”

Bristol play Gloucester next on Monday, April 17 with fans back at Ashton Gate for the first time in 2021.

The Cherry and Whites head into another West Country derby off the back of a stunning 31-7 win away at Northampton Saints on Saturday.

Previous articleCoronavirus rules could see you fined up to £6,400
Next articleBattlefield 6 reveal latest: Here’s when EA could announce new COD rival

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here