JANUARY 27, 2024

By Harry Mottram: it’s never easy to accept a defeat to the Bristol Bears (formerly Bristol Football Club late of the Memorial Ground) 12 miles up the River Avon at Ashton Gate but this one will leave a bitter taste as at one time in the second half Bath looked about to turn the game on its head – but it was not to be.

Bath’s internationals were absent for the call ups to the Six Nations and it’s fair to say their replacements didn’t gel until the second half despite a blistering start when Finn Russell put in a cross-field kick for Joe Cokanasig to touch down. But Bristol scored five tries by the interval with the score at 33-15 so it needed a BB&W’s comeback to make the second half a closer encounter.

In a thrilling second half in which Bath scored tries through Tom de Glanville, Jaco Coetzee and Thomas du Toit, with Finn Russell proving lethal with the boot, it was a late try from Rich Lane for Bristol that finally ensured the home side came out on top. On BBC Radio Bristol Gareth Chilcott described Finn Russell as making blunders, and Bath as playing like ‘schoolboys’ in the first half. These comments may not endear the former Bath player to fans of the BB&Ws as the game was closer than the score suggests – and Bath will have come away thinking they could have won, had one or two decisions gone their way.

Both Jaco Coetzee and Louis Schreuder were yellow carded allowing Bristol an advantage and of course with the likes of Beno Obano, Will Stuart and Ollie Lawrence amongst others on international duty this was always going to be a challenge – but with 44 points notched up against Bristol at least it shows the game has some positives for Bath and they remain in third spot in the league with Bristol lower down in eighth spot.

The club has a full report here: https://www.bathrugby.com/content/match-roundup-bristol-bears-57-44-bath-rugby

Stats from Bath Rugby Club:


Bristol Bears

Tries: Will Capon (8), Joe Batley (10), AJ MacGinty (19), Noah Heward (23), James Williams (32), Fitz Harding (44), Magnus Bradbury (51), Rich Lane (78)

Conversions: AJ MacGinty (11, 19, 23, 32, 45, 51, 79)

Penalties: AJ MacGinty (73)

Bath Rugby

Tries: Joe Cokanasiga (2), Tom Dunn (27), Tom de Glanville (41), Jaco Coetzee (48), Thomas du Toit (64), penalty try (68)

Conversions: Finn Russell (28, 48, 64)

Penalties: Finn Russell (16)


Bristol Bears XV: 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Will Capon, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 James Dun, 5 Joe Batley, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 Fitz Harding (c), 8 Magnus Bradbury, 9 Harry Randall, 10 AJ MacGinty, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 12 James Williams, 13 Benhard JV Rensburg, 14 Noah Heward, 15 Rich Lane

Replacements: 16 Fred Davies, 17 Sam Grahamslaw, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Virimi Vakatawa, 23 Siva Naulago

Bath Rugby XV: 1 Juan Schoeman, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Thomas du Toit, 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Miles Reid, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 9 Louis Schreuder, 10 Finn Russell, 11 Matt Gallagher, 12 Will Butt, 13 Cameron Redpath, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 15 Tom de Glanville

Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Archie Griffin, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Chris Cloete