Bath Rugby League played there final West of England Pool 2 fixture of the season last Saturday when they welcomed already pool winners high flying Swindon St. George Rugby League.
A tough home fixture at Allington Fields was on the cards with Bath looking to make amends for there first encounter earlier in the season which saw Swindon run a way with the game convincingly.
With a large crowd of both travelling Swindon fans and Bath home supporters the game kicked off, it was Swindon St. George who crossed the line first following a penalty kick to touch that fell short but Bath knocked on and the ball was gathered by Blinkhorn, the conversion being missed. (0-4)
Bath tried to regather and build the sets but lapse in defence saw the travelling side cross over again when Swindon were able to offload out of the tackle to put Bonichelli in the corner – this time the kick going over by Tomley. (0-10) Unfortunately this set the tone for the next 15 mins with Bath unable to get a grip on the game, the kick off going straight out it was Swindon who took advantage and another try by Bonichelli under the posts with a successful kick by Tomley. (0-16)
Bath started to build momentum with strong carries from second row Mike Rutt and prop Henry Beer but strong cover tackles kept the home side at bay – another ‘knock on’ meant Bath were under pressure and St. George went over out wide with Daynes going over, and Tomley adding the extras. (0-22)
Bath were able to regather and build good sets of play and looked dangerous when the ball was put through the defensive lines, Centre Cieran Chester making great yards and setting up Bath’s first points of the day when after a good build up Henry Beer was able to carry strongly and with multiple tacklers stretch out and touch down, Alex Burns was able to add the extras. (6-22)
Bath had to defend an intensive barrage from Swindon for the next few minutes and although some big tackles came in from across the line Swindon’s Tuckett was able to crash over from 5m, this time Deal converting. (6-28) Bath however hadn’t given up and Captain Leigh Wheatley demanded more from the men and it wasn’t long until Bath crossed over with some great sets of play and Tom Culshaw carving a great line to go over under the posts, Alex Burns again able to add the extras. (12-28)
HT score: Bath Rugby League 12 – 28 Swindon St. George
Bath unfortunately put themselves back under pressure when Swindon kicked off and the ball bouncing into touch. Bath were able to continue the pressure but a break in play following a disagreement between Bath’s Henry Beer and Swindon’s Jack Daynes saw the pair take 10 mins on the sideline.
It was Swindon who took the momentum for the next part of the game with Swindon’s Bonichelli once again showcasing his skill and scooting over from 5m, Tomley converting with a quick return try by Blinkhorn, Tomley again on form adding the extras. (12-40).
With the defensive plays taking there toll Bath struggled to keep possession and a quick play by Swindon saw Kinentt cross over, again converted. (12-46) Bath saw same time on the ball for sets and were able to showcase what the can when when they have the ball in hand – hard carries towards the Swindon line there were gaps starting to show and Bath’s Rob Davies was able to crash over from 2m out, Alex Burns was able to add the extras. (18-46) The final few minutes of the half Swindon opened up and were able to cross over multiple times, showcasing why they have dominated and winning Pool 2.
The Final Score: Bath Rugby League 18 – 58 Swindon St. George
Bath now look to regather and build through the week with the upcoming playoffs, Bath travel to Gloucestershire Warriors on Saturday 5th August as they finished 3rd in the other West of England League group, and Bath finished 4th in their pool so travel away in the play offs looking to cap off the season and progress to the final being played at Portway Rugby Development Centre, Bristol on Saturday 12th August.
Chris Chatten, Club Coordinator, commented “We always knew it was going to be a tough game against Swindon St. George who had already been confirmed as pool winners, whatever team they put out they are always strong. After putting ourselves under pressure in the first quarter of the game we showed Swindon we could match them man for man in the second quarter. The scored probably flattered Swindon slightly but our guys will have been tired having to do a lot of defending. We will now look forward to the play-offs where a win next week will secure a place in the West of England plate final. As a new club we have already been highly successful fulfilling all league fixtures and getting some notable wins against Bristol and Oxford, along with more recent high scoring home victory against Southampton, we aim to further develop the club in the forthcoming close season so please keep your eyes on all media channels for updates, exciting times ahead, come and get involved on and off the field.”