14 September 2012, 11:59pm
Despite not conceding a try, Bath Rugby could only take a losing bonus point in their hard-fought 14-18 defeat to Northampton Saints at the Recreation Ground.
A promising start saw Nick Abendanon cross the try-line within the first minute to give Bath the lead. A well taken lineout in the Saints half saw the ball spun quickly across the pitch, before it found its way back to Tom Biggs who put in a well-timed grubber kick for Abendanon to run onto and go over in the corner. The conversion attempt was on the touchline for Olly Barkley and the fly-half couldn't quite find the angle to add the extras. 5-0.
Shortly after though, the lead was reduced after referee Andrew Small adjudged Bath to have come in from the side, allowing Stephen Myler to reduce the deficit. 5-3.
Bath were soon back on the attack though and a surging run from Dan Hipkiss saw the centre win a penalty, which Barkley successfully converted, restoring the five point lead.
Two quick penalties for Saints saw them draw within two points and then take the lead just after 20 minutes, Myler maintaining his 100% kicking record for the evening. 8-9.
Bath were building in attack, and Ben Williams came close to breaking through the strong Saints defence, only for the referee to call a knock-on after Williams was tackled.
Despite the pressure, it was Saints who added to their tally next. Bath turned over the ball, but were penalised in the process, giving Myler the opportunity to make it 8-12 with five minutes left of the half. Barkley had the chance to bring the home side to within a point on the stroke of half time, but his attempt came rebounding off the post and allowed Saints to clear.
Half-time – 8-12.
Saints came out firing and were putting pressure on the home defence from the start of the second half. An accidental knock-on from Tom Biggs broke the momentum, but it wasn't long before Myler added to the Saints score with another penalty. 8-15.
Bath hit-back straight away from the kick-off though, forcing Saints to give away a penalty at the ruck through strong attacking play, which Barkley sent sailing through the posts to bring Bath back to within four points.
He added to this six minutes later after a powerful driving maul resulted in a scrum and then penalty in Bath's favour. 14-15.
Myler's only miss of the evening came at 65 minutes after they had been awarded a penalty at the scrum. Bath tried to take advantage of the slight momentum shift, and had some good phases building towards the Saints line.
A stolen lineout saw Barkley send the ball wide to Abendanon, which he swiftly offloaded to Hipkiss, who won the penalty as Saints went over the top. Barkley's kick was low though, and it dipped under the bar with ten minutes to go.
A charge down kick from Barkley saw Luther Burrell burst through and give Saints good field position, allowing replacement full-back Tom May to slot a drop goal, reinstating their four point lead. 14-18.
Bath refused to give up, and attacked hard for the remaining few minutes. However, despite heavy pressure, they were unable to breach the Saints defence, and had to settle for the bonus point as the final whistle blew.
Final Score 14-18.
By Amy Merry
|1||FB||Nick Abendanon||15||Ben Foden||FB|
|W||Kyle Eastmond||14||Ken Pisi||W|
|C||Dan Hipkiss||13||Dominic Waldouck||C|
|C||Ben Williams||12||Luther Burrell||C|
|W||Tom Biggs||11||Vasily Artemyev||W|
|3||FH||Olly Barkley||10||Stephen Myler||FH||5|
|SH||Michael Claassens||9||Lee Dickson||SH|
|P||Paul James||1||Soane Tongauiha||P|
|H||Lee Mears||2||Dylan Hartley||H|
|P||Dave Wilson||3||Tom Mercey||P|
|L||Stuart Hooper||4||Samu Manoa||L|
|L||Dominic Day||5||Chris Day||L|
|FL||Simon Taylor||6||Phil Dowson||FL|
|FL||Carl Fearns||7||Tom Wood||FL|
|8||Ben Skirving||8||Rhys Oakley||8|