Man of the Match Stephen Donald kicked Bath Rugby to a 21-18 victory over current Aviva Premiership Champions Harlequins at the Recreation Ground this evening.
The visitors took an early lead. They tried going to the corner for the lineout on the first offence, but when the drive didn't come off, they looked to the boot of Nick Evans who duly secured the opening points.
Donald had the opportunity to level the scores three minutes later, only for his shot to glance narrowly wide.
It was to be his only miss of the night though, and he made amends on the 16 minute mark after good pressure from Bath in the Quins half saw them earn a penalty. Donald stepped up and levelled the scores. 3-3.
Both teams were looking to run the ball, keeping the opposing defence on their toes. Bath had possibly the best opportunity of the half when Matt Banahan charged down a kick from Quins fullback Tom Williams in their 22. The centre gathered the ball and sensing his centre partner Semesa Rokoduguni open to his left threw the ball wide, but the Fijian couldn't gather and the opportunity was lost.
Instead, Quins were next to score – Evans taking advantage of another kickable penalty. Donald responded though with a good kick of his own, and took Bath into the lead for the first time two minutes later.
Half-time Bath Rugby 9 – Harlequins 6
Bath started the second-half in much the same way as they had finished the first – applying pressure in the Quins half.
Both defences were standing firm, and it was the two New Zealand fly-halves who continued to provide the points.
Donald extended the home side's lead after Quins infringed at the lineout after 46 minutes.
Quins scrum-half Karl Dickson looked to be through for a try shortly after but for a frantic covering joint tackle from Guy Mercer and Tom Biggs on the line. Bath absorbed the resulting pressure at the scrum and Nick Abendanon took the opportunity to clear.
Evans unusually missed his next penalty attempt, but made no mistake moments later when presented with another opportunity. A late tackle from Mercer on the 61st minute meant Evans drew the two sides level, and the Rec was in for a tense closing 20 minutes. 12-12.
The fly-halves exchanged another penalty a piece before it looked as if Bath had scored.
A strong lineout drive saw Bath power to the tryline. Biggs was tackled just short, and Banahan looked to have touched down from the back of the ruck. Referee JP Doyle consulted with the TMO who ruled that the ball wasn't grounded. Doyle had spotted a Quins infringement in the build-up however, and brought play back for the penalty, which Donald converted to take Bath back into the lead. 18-15.
The Kiwi extended the lead with seven minutes remaining with a superb kick from the touchline, and whilst Evans struck one more penalty to take his and Quins's tally to six, the determined and resolute home defence stood firm in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Final score Bath Rugby 21 – Harlequins 18.