James on target as Bath win
Butch James kicked 18 points as Bath recorded their first Premiership win away to Bristol in more than 10 years.
Last Updated: 08/09/08 11:04am
Bath recorded their first Premiership victory at the Memorial Stadium in more than 10 years with a 33-20 victory over Bristol.
The European Challenge Cup holders had not won at the venue since March 1998 and had fly-half Butch James to thank after he kicked 18 points, while they also outscored Bristol three tries to two.
The fantastic performance by South Africa half back James came just five days after he arrived back in this country after playing in nine internationals since he was last on these shores.
But it was not all plain sailing as the visitors were forced to make two late changes to their starting line-up.
Centre Alex Crockett failed a fitness test on an ankle injury, while skipper Michael Lipman was rested after a clash of heads in the pre-season friendly against Edinburgh.
Instead, Tom Cheeseman joined Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu in the centre with James Scaysbrook at openside flanker while scrum half Michael Claassens led the side as Laurence Ovens and Jack Cuthbert were added to the bench.
When the action got underway, Bristol struck with the first try of the game within the opening three minutes after wing David Lemi fed full back Luke Arscott and on to his brother Tom. The right wing was tackled as he tried to cut back inside but flanker Andrew Blowers picked up to go over from close range.
England Saxons fly-half Adrian Jarvis, making his Bristol debut, added the conversion from out wide on the right but was short minutes later with a penalty attempt from just inside the Bath half and 10 metres in from the left touchline.
Bath began to apply the pressure with a series of scrums close to the Bristol line and right wing Joe Maddock was stopped just short of the line. But international referee Chris White had seen an infringement and James added the penalty from in front of the posts.
The visitors then went into the lead as Jarvis failed to find touch and full back Nick Abendanon sent Maddock off on a 35-metre race to score under the posts.
James converted only for Jarvis to add a simple penalty and level the scores midway through the half.
On the half-hour, left wing Matt Banahan set centre Tom Cheeseman on a 25 metres dash to the line for Bath's second try which James again converted.
But Bristol still had time to come back when Lemi raced back into his own half to collect a clearance kick from Claassens and then weaved and dribbled his way to the post, evading at least six Bath defenders before touching down. Jarvis converted for a 17-17 scoreline at the break.
After the re-start, James added three penalties to one from Jarvis before Bath scored their third try of the game as number eight Jonny Fa'amatuainu went over from 30 metres with James adding the extras.
The visitors went in search of a bonus point try for a perfect start to their Premiership campaign but Bristol defended stoutly in the closing minutes.