3 October 2012, 12:32pm
The final word - or should I say the final kick - of the match from Olly Barkley, saw the boys in black, blue and white secure a hard earned 31-10 win over the Sale Sharks.
The first half witnessed shared possession between the teams. Bath had the upper hand in the scrum with the front row of James, Mears and Wilson dominant and forcing The Sharks to concede penalties, as they were often on the back foot. The coaches selection of Big Dave Attwood, coming in for Dominic Day and playing alongside Club Captain Stuart Hooper, was a stroke of genius. Attwood played out of his skin and was awesome all over the park as he made big tackles, often at vital times, turned over ball and ran like a herculean tank at the Sale defence. Only a hardly noticeable drop of the ball could have denied him the official man of the match award.
The first half was a further example of lack of discipline by both teams, with penalties being conceded at regular intervals. Whilst Olly went into the half time break on the back of a strong performance resulting in 12 points, the Sharks missed opportunities, which left a half time score at 12-3 to the home side. Bath improved the accuracy of their kicking, with Steven Donald switching into the pocket at 12 to control matters from midfield. Dan Hipkiss had plenty of ball and made great yardage deep into the Sale half, with a little bit more awareness of Kyle Eastmond on his outside, a deserved try always seemed on the cards.
With the second half kicking off under brilliant sunshine, it did not take long for the moment of the match to arrive. Fresh from his elevation to the England Squad, Davey Wilson celebrated with a 25 metre run full of power, determination and agility as he powered to within 10 metres of the Sharks line. Moments late he powered over for a deserved try and the reaction of the crowd as he trotted back to halfway was electric.
Sale were undeterred and soon came back into the game with a try of their own, following immense pressure on the Bath defence for a sustained period, with Leota turning and twisting in mid air over the try line. This brought the score back to 19-10 and allowed Sale back into the match. Further Sale pressure followed as they tried in vain for a second try to reduce the lead to as little as two points which might have panicked the home side, but they spurned a penalty kick which might have reduced the deficit to six.
However, demonstrating greater fitness than the opposition, Bath responded in the last eight minutes with two tries delivered by the dominant forwards. The first was a try following a lineout in which the forwards drove over the line from five metres out with Ben Skirving getting the crucial touchdown for the score. The second try came minutes before the end, following a walk to the Sin Bin for the ever powerful and difficult Andy Powell. With one less forward on the pitch, the forwards put on a massive shove at the scrum and the front row replacements of Nathan Catt, Anthony Perinise and Ross Batty drove the scrum over the try line, resulting in a penalty try, with a conversion to come under the post. Then the last word really was Olly's.
Coach Gary Gold said after the game that we must learn to kill teams off and not allow them back into the game. With a visit to Kingsholm on Saturday, the team should take confidence with them for the short trip up the motorway.