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Bath hang on for tense one-point victory over Bristol

Ben Spencer of Bath makes a break. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Bath hung on to claim the spoils 20-19 against their near neighbours but Bristol almost pulled off a dramatic Gallagher Premiership victory.


Instead the Bears fell to a fourth successive Premiership defeat.

A 67th-minute Finn Russell penalty snatched the points for Bath after tries by Rich Lane and Max Malins hauled Bristol back into the match.

Bath had answered an early try by Magnus Bradbury with two tries in as many minutes by the outstanding Ollie Lawrence and skipper Ben Spencer.

Just hours before kick-off Bath bolstered their squad with the immediate signing of Italy’s World Cup hooker, New Zealand-born Hame Faiva, formerly with Benetton and Worcester and most recently with the Hurricanes.

Bristol were out of the blocks quickest, as number eight Bradbury finished off a succession of pick-and-drives at the home posts after five minutes, Callum Sheedy adding the conversion.

Russell replied with a simple penalty and it was soon the visitors’ turn to be stretched side-to-side before Lawrence brushed aside Piers O’Conor and Gabriel Oghre to register Bath’s first try.

Russell had no sooner converted than he was placing the ball on the tee again after Lawrence burst upfield from the restart and centre partner Cameron Redpath acted as linkman to send Spencer away to touch down at the corner flag.


The game continued in fast and furious fashion but Bath were guilty of as many spills as thrills and Virimi Vakatawa, although closely marshalled, was an obvious threat for the visitors.

On the half-hour mark the Fijian-born France international left home defenders floundering only to offload just short of the try-line to Bath flanker Miles Reid, who gratefully cleared downfield.

At the other end Redpath linked well with Lawrence but the chance went begging.

Another stunning Bristol counter-attack prompted by skipper Harry Randall should have earned a try but when the ball was swept left possession was lost on the Bath line.

Given the number of scoring opportunities, it was surprising that there were no further points on the board before half-time as Bath led 17-7.


Both sides adopted a rather cagier approach to the second half before Bristol scored two tries in four minutes.

First Lane fastened on to a kick-pass by Sheedy to score a try in the left corner and then replacement full-back Malins finished off a spectacular counter-attack inspired by Gabriel Ibitoye.

Sheedy was unable to convert either try but Russell obligingly missed a simple penalty at the other end to leave Bristol 17-19 ahead on the hour mark, although Sheedy was then wide with a kick at the other end.

Malins raised Bath hopes by knocking on in his 22 and Russell nudged his side into the lead from a penalty under the posts. Spencer charged down Randall’s box-kick but could not hold on to the slippery ball.

Sheedy had yet another opportunity from wide-out but his penalty attempt, although perfectly struck, dipped just under the bar.


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