Bath Rugby off to flying start with win over Falcons

Bath Rugby secured a solid 9-22 win at Kingston Park in the first round of the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership Rugby season, putting them top of the table.

The visitors quickly found their stride, building momentum and working their way up field and into the Falcons territory.

Just under 10 minutes into the game, and Bath got the breakthrough they had patiently worked towards. A lineout about 30 metres out was secured and tapped down to Michael Claassens. Claassens spun the ball out to Vesty, who made an electric break through the middle of the pitch deep into the 22. Vesty found Matt Carraro on his shoulder, and the Australian paced away to cross over the line between the posts. Vesty added the extras, giving Bath an early 0-7 lead.

Newcastle soon got some points of their own however, through the reliable boot of fly-half Jimmy Gopperth. Bath were judged to have pulled down in the lineout, giving Gopperth the opportunity to step up and send the ball cleanly through the middle of the posts. 3-7, 13 minutes.

Bath were keeping their heads though, and, keeping good possession, again started making their way up field. Claassens played provider again as he scooped the ball up and passed it back to Vesty, who, sat deep in the pocket, lined up a long drop-goal, which sailed through the posts, giving Bath another three points to their lead. 3-10, 16 minutes.

The home side were obviously keen to keep chipping away at the score though, and worked hard to get themselves into a position to score from. Their patience paid off, and they were awarded another penalty on the 20 minute mark, which Gopperth slotted from just wide of the posts.

Both sides worked hard to maintain possession, but with a wet ball it wasn't easy, and there were handling errors on both sides, with play staying in the majority in the middle of the pitch. It was late in the second half before either side troubled the score board again, with Vesty then Gopperth slotting penalties. Gopperth had the chance for a couple more, but the ambitious kicks proved to be just a touch out of his range, with both falling short of the posts. Half-time score – 9-13.

Bath came out raring to go, and made the brighter start in the second half. Within minutes they had been awarded a penalty, which Vesty duly scored, maintaining his near 100% record for the game.

A good forward drive and scrum from the Bath pack lead to the next penalty being awarded on the 57 minute mark, and Vesty increased the visitors lead to 10 points with another secure kick. He struck again moments later, after some solid play had seen Bath work their way into the Falcons half. 9-22

The home side were proving tricky to breakthrough though, and not content with letting the visitors have it all their own way, set about working hard to force their way into the Bath half. An advantage played by referee Martin Fox saw the Falcons deep into the 22, and it looked like they were away in the corner, but for a fantastic try-saving tackle from replacement Jack Cuthbert.

With the Bath defence quickly snuffing out any budding Falcons attack, there was no change to the score for the remaining few minutes, and it was just left to Vesty, who had scored 17 of Bath's 22 points, to send the ball deep into the crowd and seal the win. Final Score 9-22

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