5 years ago
4 April 2009, 2:46pm
Suffering from the effects of a tough eight day campaign of matches, Bath Rugby were made to suffer a sore defeat at the hands of Harlequins today with disappointing 3-19 final score.
Chris Malone may have enjoyed a happy return to his former stamping ground as Harlequins pulled off an away win, but Bath will now be turning their attentions back to the Heineken Cup in true Bath fashion, with grit, determination and fire.
The Australian fly-half converted a first-half penalty try and also kicked three penalties, with England scrum-half Danny Care contributing a dropped goal. Butch James's penalty just before half-time was the only reward for Bath.
Quins' victory was founded on an extraordinary defensive effort in the face of wave after wave of Bath attacks in the second half. Try as they might, the home team just could not find the telling pass or angled run that might have made the difference. Harlequins even held firm for ten minutes while prop Mike Ross was in the sin bin.
Head coach Steve Meehan could not hide his disappointment at a result which makes the battle for play-off places even more of a dogfight, saying: "We've got to win our last two games and wait to see if other matches go our way."
"It's going to be a test of character - we've got to put this aside and get back to doing what we are good at."
On the performance, which showed more than a hint of a hangover from the hard-fought win over Wasps just three days earlier, he said: "We blew so many opportunities through poor decision making. Why? We'll have to work that out but there were 'threes on twos' that we would normally nail. The first thing we will do is get back into a weekly routine so that we can prepare properly for matches."
The first hint that it might not be Bath's afternoon came after just two minutes old when Shontayne Hape made a sublime break supported by Alex Crockett - but the passing was not precise enough to provide Joe Maddock with the extra yard of space he needed.
The attack did lead to a penalty but Butch James was some way off target from 35 metres.
Instead, it was Quins who took the lead when Malone punished a scrum infringement from in front of the posts.
Malone then alarmed his own travelling support with a Garryowen which fell behind him, causing more problems for his own players than the opposition. Bath continued to press, first through top try scorer Maddock and then when Banahan just failed to get a scoring pass away to Crockett. Moments later a Crockett flick to Banahan in space was adjudged forward.
Scott Bemand threaded a quick through to the corner on 21 minutes and Justin Harrison stole the line-out but Harlequins eventually won back possession through Ugo Monye. David Strettle launched a stunning counter-attack with England scrum-half Danny Care and Bath suddenly found themselves defending a line-out at the other end of the ground.
A penalty was followed by a succession of scrums and Bath even stole the ball from the fourth reset - only to knock on! Quins made no mistake this time, forcing a penalty try which Malone converted to open up a 10-nil lead on 25 minutes.
Late in the half the home side were given encouragement by a James penalty from 25 metres after Care used his back row as a shield behind the scrum. The Springbok had a chance to pull back another three points early in the second half but the kick was again off target. To add insult to injury, Malone accepted a straightforward penalty chance at the other end to put the visitors 13-3 up after 47 minutes. Back came Bath with their best spell of the game, putting the visitors under so much pressure that Ross was sin-binned for a professional foul on 53 minutes.
For the next 10 minutes, Bath monopolised possession, keeping the ball in hand through a bewildering sequence of play but without finding any way through the rock solid Harlequins defence. Instead, when Quins broke out after 66 minutes Care dropped a goal to extend the lead to 13 points.
Bath resumed their siege at the other end as both sides drew on their reserves from the bench but they never managed to prise an opening despite the increasingly frenetic pace of the game.
It was left to Malone to deliver the final blow, kicking a last minute penalty to seal a bitterly disappointing defeat for Bath.
Other results for this match are not available.
Lineups for this match are not available.