With the West of England domestic season now completed, which saw Bath Rugby League qualify in there first season, they travelled to Gloucester for the competitions Plate Semi Final, the winner going through to the Final the following Saturday to be played at Portway Rugby Development Centre in Bristol.
The game started well with Bath Rugby League building the sets and defending well against a large Warriors pack, It was Bath’s Josh Frost who opened up the scoring after spotting the gap and brushing off would be tacklers to go over out wide in the corner, Alex Burns was unable to add the extras (0-4)
Bath continued the attack and it was a few minutes later when Fullback Cieran Chester ran at pace through the defensive line to break free, with only a few meters short of the line he found Prop Ryan Willcox who had supported fantastically to cross over under the posts, Alex Burns added the extras (0-10).
Josh Frost showcased his agility once again to gain valuable yards and caught just short of the line, the next play saw Club Captain Tom Plance use his football skills to carefully put the ball behind the defence and follow through to score under the posts, Alex Burns who has been on fine form this season was able to convert (0-16). Burns continued this with a well worked play after a penalty using his strength to barge his was over the line, unfortunately he was unable to add the extras (0-20)
The Warriors continued to apply the pressure and the following kick off bounced to reach touch and Bath were under pressure 20 yrds from there line, Bath’s defence held firm after continuous barrage of large Warrior forwards, eventually finding the gap and crossing the line with a Matt Jones try, Ash Lewis converting (6-20) shortly after Bath’s Chris Mee was taken off after a poor tackle saw him sidelined for the remainder of the game.
Gloucestershire now had there tails up and with the game being controlled by Ash Lewis he dropped a kick through to put Bath under pressure once again, but pressure around the ruck meant Bath would regain possession. Bath were able to get the ball wide from the scrum and Josh James showed pace outside to get into the Warriors half, ill discipline at the tackle meant Bath would gain more yards with a penalty – unfortunately the field possession could not be capitalised on and the Warriors gathered a loose ball.
Centre Josh Frost showed his skills once again when he stepped through multiple would be tacklers to dot down over the line, Burns unable to convert. (6-24)
The Warriors continued to use there large forwards and gained great yards from this, after a tackle close to the Bath line it was Sean Roberts who caught the markers napping and darted over (10-24) Leigh Wheatley was able to command some great plays shorty after getting Bath back into the Warriors half, a break from Burns saw the Warriors concede another penalty which Bath capitalised on, this time Frost stepping to put Cieran Chester through the gap who stretched out to score, the extras just going wide. (10-28)
A restart from under the posts saw the Warriors carry strongly and get back into Baths’ 20, another Sean Roberts pick and go from the tackle saw him cross again with Ash Lewis again adding the extras. (16-28) Gloucestershire continued there rally and were able to build on pressure again to see a Bath player put into touch, a Jordan Smith try and Ash Lewis conversion brought the score to 22-28.
With the final minutes of the half Bath were awarded another penalty after a high tackle on Cieran Chester, the side opted to play the ball rather than a shot at the posts but unfortunately the ball was put wide with Matty James being put into touch. A kick up field from Ash Lewis saw a clean take from Chester and the half time whistle being blown.
The second half kicked off with Bath now playing up the slight slope, shortly after a great return catch and run from Frost saw Chester work his way back up field only to be tackled poorly by Ash Kocerhan who received his second yellow card resulting in red. Bath now look to get back to the form that saw them start so well began to build momentum, only for the ball to go wide and a Bath player to be tackled into touch.
This continued to spur the home side on and another barrage of heavy forwards saw Bath caught short and Kirk Lewis dive over from close range, his son Ash Lewis adding the extras. (28-28), the pressure continued as the now 12 man team ran hard towards the visitors line, a deft kick over the defensive line and regather by Matt Jones saw him cross the line, Ash Lewis again adding the extras and taking the lead for the first time in the game. (34-28)
Bath now under pressure forced too many errors and were finding it difficult to gain any momentum, but there stern defence held tight as the Warriors continued to run hard form close out. Bath were able to force the error and gain some breathing space, although this was short lived after a Warriors player was tackled into touch and play stopped following an altercation on the sideline. Play resumed and Gloucestershire continued where they had left off, and a hard running line by Ryan Tanner saw him go over under the posts, Lewis adding the extras. (40-28)
With 17 minutes left on the clock it was Gloucestershire who scored next when Ash Lewis chipped through and after multiple deflections regathered and crossed over in the corner, he followed up by adding the extras. (46-28) Bath had not given up and needed to build momentum to get themselves back in the game, from the restart the warriors made an error, Leigh Wheatley was able to dart over and score with Frost adding the extras. (46-34)
A superb run back from the kick off saw Vice Captain Stevan Randall get back deep into the Warriors half evading many would be tackles. A quick play of the ball by Plance from the resulting tackle saw Cieran Chester run through a tired defence to close the gap, Frost adding the extras. (46-40)
Bath would get back into the Warriors 20 but firm defence held them out, another great play saw Burns just miss out on crossing over when the ball was just in front and a knock on deemed by the referee. With the final minutes closing it was a tight contest between the two sides with both now looking to score, an error with hands from Bath saw the final whistle blown and Gloucestershire Warriors making the Final.
Club Coordinator Chris Chatten commented “It is disappointing not to make the final after all the hard work we have collectively put in to get the club up and running this year and make it a success, we had plenty of chances to win the game. However, we have come a long way in our debut season with notable wins against Bristol Sonics in our inaugural game. We have played all scheduled fixtures and also arranged a number of friendlies to give the developing squad more game time in what for some is still a very new sport, but one which is highly exciting to play and watch, if you like running with the ball in hand, tackling and being involved in an enterprising sport this is for you”.
The club would like to thank all stakeholders involved in making our debut season a memorable one, club sponsors, volunteers in particular James Fox (Coach), Andy Burns and Ryan Stewart who share the vision of how the club can develop into something really exciting, more exciting developments planned in the close season, watch this space.
Josh Llewelyn; Darren Collier, Ryan Tanner, Dean Cooper, Justin Lee; Ash Lewis, Matt Jones; Gareth Morris, Sean Roberts, Ollie Cooper (Capt); Jake Thompson, Sam Handcock; Jordan Smith; INTERCHANGE: Nico Tarantino, Tom Collier, Ash Kocerhan, Dale Cooper, Kirk Lewis, Alex Mahoney, Gavin Tippins.
Scorers: Tries; Jones (2), Roberts (2), Smith, K. Lewis, Tanner, A. Lewis
Goals; A Lewis 7 from 8.
Cieran Chester; Josh James, Josh Frost, Matt Warnock, Matty James; Leigh Wheatley, Alex Burns; Luke Dobson, Chris Mee, Ryan Willcox; Tom Culshaw, Steven Randall; Tom Plance; INTERCHANGE: Rich Carlisle, Jordan Talbot, Arron Schofield, Alex Mallon, Kieran Storey, Nathan Burd, Morgan Lewis
Scorers: Tries; Frost (2), Willcox, Plance, Burns, Wheatley, Chester (2)
Goals; Burns 2 from 5, Frost 2 from 2
Referee: Malcolm Holmes