Barkley unties the Bristol second string

Bath 25 Bristol 10

In the circumstances a comfortable home win was anticipated. But Bath - who put 76 points on their near-neighbours here nine years ago - no longer swagger like a team capable of delivering a pasting. And they had to make do with a middling margin of victory thanks to two tries and Olly Barkley's 15 points from the boot.

Barkley, who started at fly-half rather than centre for the first time in 11 months, opened up with a slashing, jinking break to within a whisker of a try at the posts. But it was a mirage of incisive action and the Bath pack settled for too long to a frustrating impression of a map-reader in possession of an atlas of cul-de-sacs.

There is a competition for 2nd XVs - it's called the Guinness A League and it takes place on Monday nights - and it ought not to be transposed with a Saturday afternoon at The Rec. But Bristol were mindful of injuries and an unforgiving fixture list.

"We do have a number of senior citizens who need to be looked after," said their coach, Richard Hill. So while the likes of Gareth Llewellyn and Darren Crompton applied for their winter warmer rebate, Bristol were captained by Joe El Abd - like Hill, a former man of Bath. As Bristol repeatedly went offside to repel the Bath forwards, El Abd was warned over the accumulation of penalties against his men. After 35 minutes he was sent to the sin-bin for dallying on the wrong side of a ruck.

The loss of a man was bound to be costly, with Bristol's rush defence creaking at the seams, and in the fourth minute of added time a series of Bath thrusts led to their hooker Pieter Dixon nipping over from David Bory's pass at the right-hand corner. Barkley's first kick at goal had been an horrendous hook wide from short range in the eighth minute, and he was unable to convert.

But Barkley found the target four times between the 47th and 62nd minutes to reward a palpable turning of the screw. The impetus probably came from Bristol's solitary try in the opening 90 seconds of the second half: a loose ball was hacked up the right by Marco Stanojevic and Greg Nicholls applied a finishing touch after Gareth Delve conceded a penalty in Bath's scramble to cover.

Danny Gray converted but Barkley's peppering of the posts - two kicks from prodigious distance near the halfway line, two from inside the 22 - gave Bath a 20-10 lead. They also stole two Bristol line-outs as the going got inevitably tougher for the visitors, most of whom were more used to life in National League One. At loosehead prop Matt Stevens made a couple of the charges for Bath which must have earned the admiration of England's coach Andy Robinson.

Bath and Bristol played each other in the final of the old RFU Knockout Cup in 1984. It was so long ago that it was sponsored by a cigarette company, but not many spectators would have been knocked out by this new-age cup tie. It needed a Bristol mistake to dispel a gathering sleepiness about the closing stages. Gray hesitated over a pass and it was snatched away by Chris Malone, a substitute for Barkley, whose counter-attack was finished by the centre Tom Cheeseman.

Bath: N Abendanon; A Higgins, T Cheeseman, R Davis, D Bory (S Finau, 58); O Barkley (C Malone, 75), M Wood (A Williams, 75); M Stevens (D Barnes, 61), P Dixon (L Mears, 61), D Bell (Stevens, 79), S Borthwick (capt; J Hudson, 79), D Grewcock, A Beattie, G Delve (C Goodman, 68), J Scaysbrook.

Bristol: S Marsden; M Stanojevic, S Cox, M Denney, D Lemi; D Gray (J Pritchard, 80), G Nicholls (J Rauluni, 62); M Irish, N Clark, W Thompson (D Howick, 73), O Kohn (D Attwood, 73), O Hodge, R Winters, D Ward-Smith (R Pennycook, 69), J El Ebd (capt).

Referee: R Debney (Leicestershire).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...