Priestland helps Bath beat Bristol
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Eleven points from Rhys Priestland helped Bath Rugby claim the West Country bragging rights with a bonus-point 26-19 win over Bristol Bears at Twickenham Stadium.
Jonathan Joseph scored within two minutes to ignite the annual Clash, sending more than 60,000 fans into an uproar from the off.
Five minutes later Jamie Roberts crossed, before Joe Cokanasiga added a third 20 minutes in.
Callum Sheedy kept Bristol in the game with four penalties but Priestland added a fourth score in the second half to seal the deal for Bath, with Dan Thomas managing a late consolation for Bears.
It was a lightning start for Bath as they forced Bristol to touch down over their own line two minutes in before Joseph capitalised on a handling error to pounce from close range and open the scoring.
Priestland knocked over the extras but Bristol were unperturbed and pressed the Bath line instantly, with Luke Morahan inches from touching down a grubber.
The TMO showed Zach Mercer beat the wing to the ball, but Sheedy kicked a penalty shortly after to put Bears on the board.
Scorer of one, Joseph then played creator for the next as he put a delightful kick behind the Bears defence for Roberts to chase and dive over.
Just over ten minutes later Cokanasiga used his sizeable frame to power over from a ruck two meters out for Bath’s third following a great break from Sam Underhill on his return to the side.
Three more penalties from Sheedy gave Bristol hope before the break as they went in 12-19 behind.
The second half was much tighter, but Priestland made up for his penalty effort hitting the upright by kicking through a loose ball and diving on it two minutes later to increase Bath’s lead.
Bears finally found a way over the whitewash as the ball was whipped wide to Thomas on the wing, who raced into the corner to give Bristol a chance.
Ian Madigan converted and suddenly Bristol were only a converted score behind again with less than ten minutes to play, but it wasn’t to be for the Bears and Bath saw out a classic Clash victory.
Tries: Joseph, Priestland, Roberts, Cokanasiga
Cons: Priestland 3
Pens: Sheedy 4
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Kahn Fotuali’I, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Clark
Bristol: 15 Luke Daniels, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steve Luatua, 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 James Lay, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Jack Lam, 20 George Smith, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Tusi Pisi
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.