Bath survive Glasgow charge and qualify for last 8

English Rugby club Bath survived a late charge from Scottish club Glasgow to win 20-15 and book a place in the European Champions Cup quarter finals.

Bath’s victory at the Recreation Ground means that they finish the Group stage as Pool Four winners and are in the last eight teams.

Bath Rugby wrote their name into elite European club rugby’s record book by sensationally becoming the first club to qualify for the quarter-finals as group winners after losing their opening two group matches.

Their pack paved the way for an historic 20-15 win over Glasgow Warriors at The Recreation Ground that booked their place in the knock-out stages as Pool 4 winners – despite early losses to the Warriors and former champions Toulouse.

Two penalty tries from raw pack power were the undoing of a Glasgow side who produced two stunning tries with the ball in hand while Toulouse’s defeat by Montpellier handed Bath top spot in a tight group. Wasps had also earlier gone through after losing their opening two contests but they advance as one of the best runners-up.

The Bath eight – flanker Matt Garvey named Heineken Man-of-the-Match – were their saviours after Glasgow had made a dream start – and silenced the vociferous Bath faithful in the process – with Henry and Toulouse.Pyrgos and DTH van der Merwe combining sweetly for a move straight off the training ground.

With just four minutes gone the scrum half found his blindside wing on the angle and van der Merwe sliced through before sending the galloping Alex Dunbar over for a try that had coach Gregor Townsend purring with delight.

Finn Russell added the conversion and just to rub salt into Bath wounds they had to replace the influential Kyle Eastmond as he went off clutching his right shoulder.

The first three penalties were all conceded by the Warriors but George Ford missed the chance of opening the Bath account as he sent his effort wide to the right of the posts.

Flanker Matt Garvey tried to spark the home side into telling action with a surging break but they made a mess of a prime line-out attacking position and Glasgow lifted the siege.

And although Bath turned up the heat at scrum time to have the Warriors in rapid retreat the Scottish defence held firm and they then went on the attack through Dunbar from classy line-out possession.

Bath won penalties at successive scrums and line-outs, the latter presenting Ford with a 35-metre chance that he made no mistake in turning into Bath’s opening points.

He repeated the dose minutes later to cut the Glasgow advantage to just a point and Matt Banahan took a high kick from Ford superbly to have the Glasgow alarm bells ringing.

But the Warriors held firm to take a slender one-point advantage into the break and returned with new props in the shape of Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Jon Welsh in an attempt to shore up their creaking scrum although they lost try-scorer Dunbar as he departed rubbing his forehead.

Irish TMO Marshall Kilgore was called into action before back rower Richie Vernon was confirmed as the scorer of a magnificent team try that said everything about Glasgow’s intent on keeping the ball alive with centre Mark Bennett heavily involved.

Russell failed to convert and Bath’s response was emphatic – a superb forward drive that was only halted at the expense of a penalty try and the departure of skipper Al Kellock for his part in pulling down the maul.

Ford converted to put Bath ahead for the first time with half an hour to play – but back bounced the Warriors with Russell drilling over a penalty to reclaim the advantage for 14-man Glasgow.
And they had a let off when Ford was wide with another penalty opportunity before Peter Stringer came on for Bath for what was his 99th tournament appearance.

Full back Anthony Watson turned on the after burners to open up the Warriors defence but after TMO duty it was ruled that the Warriors defenders had got under Watson and denied him getting the ball down.

But there was a second penalty try for the Bath pack, this time from a regulation scrum drive, with Ollie Devoto converting in the temporary absence of Ford and they held out to create that slice of history despite the Warriors throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at them.

Final Score Bath 20 (6) Glasgow 15 (7)

Scorers

Bath
Tries : Penalty 2
Pen : Ford 2
Con : Ford 2
Drop :

Glasgow
Tries : Dunbar, Vernon
Pen : Russell
Con : Russell
Drop :

Match Officials
Referee:
John Lacey (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Sean Gallagher (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Olly Hodges (Ireland),
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Yves Thieffine (France)

Teams

Bath Rugby: Anthony Watson; Horacio Agulla, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan; George Ford, Chris Cook; Paul James, Rob Webber, David Wilson, Stuart Hooper (c), Dominic Day, Matt Garvey, Francois Louw, Leroy Houston

Replacements: Ross Batty, Nick Auterac, Henry Thomas, David Attwood, Carl Fearns, Peter Stringer, Ollie Devoto, Sam Burgess

Glasgow Warriors: Sean Maitland; Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar, DTH van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Pat MacArthur, Michael Cusack, Jonny Gray, Al Kellock (c), Leone Nakarawa, Fraser Brown, Richie Vernon

Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Jon Welsh, James Eddie, Sean Lamont, Niko Matawalu, Peter Horne, Pete Murchie

With thanks to EPCRugby.

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