Bath welcomed Somerset Vikings to The Oakfield Stadium on Saturday in the sides first home league fixture of the season. With good preparations during the week and a beautifully sunny day Bath hoped to get the ball moving in what was set to be a tough encounter.
However it was the visitors that were on the score sheet first with an early try from No.13 Marcus Brooker following a loose ball that was collected within the opening minutes. Somerset appeared to have caught Bath napping and the home side were deemed to be offside and the subsequent next set saw Brooker score once again.
Bath began to get themselves back into the game and some strong carries from Elliott Bowler & Brandon Ball gave the home side some great territory. This time it was the Vikings that were caught offside and Bath were able to get themselves deep into the oppositions half. With quick plays of the ball it was Hooker Luc Thomas who spotted the gap and dived over the line, Lawrence Haywood adding the extras.
Somerset Vikings continued to look threatening Bath giving them too much time on the ball, another attack close to the home side try line saw Brooker come up again for another try.
With stern words being spoken under the sticks the home side came back out eager to get back on top of the game – Some fast hands and hard running lines from the backs caught the Vikings offside again and a bulldozing run from Bowler saw him crash over the line for the second Bath try of the afternoon, unfortunately the follow up kick going just wide.
The game which kept swinging both ways was evident when the Vikings looked to punish Bath again this time with Jacob Hill scoring for the visitors, and from the following kick off Bath were able to capitalise on a loose ball with Luke Cador going over for his first try of the day. With a few minutes remaining on the clock the Bath back line was able to put the ball wide with Rob Sully going over in the corner.
A good fight back from Bath in the first half bringing the score to 22-28.
Half Time Score: Bath RL 22 – 28 Somerset Vikings RL
The heat of the sunny afternoon was beginning to take its toll and Bath were able to advantage of some sloppy plays by the visitors to gain multiple penalties and get themselves into good position. It was Brandon Ball who would get onto the scorecard next when a superb running line opened the defence for him to dive over, the kick being added to level the scores.
Bath took the lead shortly after when centre Mike Rutt challenged the line holding the defence and gave an offload to to Geoff Taylor who ran a superb line to cross over, the kick being added.
The lead was to be short lived after an error at the kick off Somerset regained the ball and were able to challenge the line from 10 meters out and eventually crossed the line. Bath however continued to apply the pressure and following a knock on Ben Thyer ran form his own 20 deep into the opposition half before being brought down, the referee also awarding a penalty but the following kick at posts went just wide.
The ever dangerous Somerset back line found a gap wide and crossed over this time by Jacob Hill with the conversion being missed and The Vikings retaking the lead with 10mins left on the clock. The game was certainly not over and Bath were able to regather and after some strong carries from around the park it was Kieran Harvey who was able to catch the defence static. Unfortunately the kick going short of the posts and Bath & Somerset were levelling once again.
With the dying minutes of the game Bath would have to dig deep and would have to hold out the final set of the game. The ball was played wide and put through the hands before a grubber kick back into the middle of the pitch saw Jacob Hill collect and go in under the posts.
A hard fought game which could have seen the scoreline go either way by equally matched sides ended with heartache for Bath as the final whistle was blown.
Final Score: Bath RL 38 – 44 Somerset Vikings RL
We caught up with Bath Head Coach Alex Burns after the game commenting “the end result was a very difficult one for the squad after fighting there way back into a game that many would have seen as over much earlier on. It’s a real credit to the belief in the ability within this squad to put ourselves in a position to win the game. Plaudits to Vikings though who shot out of the blocks, and managed out the game excellently. In the last two games we have won both second half’s convincingly. Moving forward we need to discover how to get that level of play right from the off. As I’ve said before we are trying to do something special with this Bath squad and I have full faith we will with patience & understanding of what our long term goals are. We are moving in the right direction 100% and everyone in the club can feel that.”
Following the sad news that Bristol Sonics RL have had to withdraw from the West of England league (we wish them the very best of luck and hope to see them again next season) Bath’s next Pool A fixture is on June 9th at home to Swindon St George. The club will continue training on Thursday at Avonvale RFC from 7pm – All news players welcome. The Club is also looking at options for friendly fixtures in the midweek and weekends.
Bath RL squad.
Chester 2. Parks 3. Thyer 4. Warnock 5. Cador 6. Haywood 7. Sully 8. Bowler 9. Thomas 10. Randall (c) 11. Ball 12. Frost 13. King
SUBS: Harvey, McConnell, Culshaw, Burnett, Rutt, Taylor, May