A resurgent second half from Bath Rugby saw them claim a bonus point win over Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground. Two tries from Olly Woodburn, as well as one from Anthony Perenise and a penalty try secured the try bonus point, with Olly Barkley and Tom Heatcote adding the extras from the tee. Final Score Bath Rugby 30 - Newcastle Falcons 24.
Bath started the brighter of the two sides, and within two minutes had been awarded a penalty after pressure saw Newcastle penalised for not rolling away. Barkley stepped up and sent the ball sailing through the middle of the posts to give Bath an early 3-0 lead.
The home side were showing their attacking intent and made numerous line breaks across the pitch. The Newcastle defence was dogged though and 18 minutes of the match had gone before Bath had chance to extend their lead.
Having missed a penalty attempt minutes earlier, Barkley threw a pass to Heathcote from the back of his hand, as Matt Banahan ran decoy through the centre. Heathcote broke away, drew the Newcastle defence , and timed the pass to Woodburn superbly, allowing the winger to saunter over the try line in the corner. 8-0.
The early lead was soon shortened though as Newcastle stole possession after Bath fumbled the re-start. The Falcons's talisman, Jimmy Gopperth saw a man overlap out wide and sent a looping pass out to the extra man, Mark Wilson, who ran in the try. Gopperth converted, taking the visitors to within just one point 8-7.
The try galvanised the away side, and ten minutes later it was Newcastle who scored again as Rob Vickers dotted down after a powerful drive by the Falcons forwards. Gopperth was again accurate with the conversion, giving his side an 8-14 lead.
The score remained the same until half time, despite a cracking penalty attempt from Heathcote from 45 metres out, which just hit the crossbar and bounced under the bar.
The second half continued in much the same way, with Gopperth pinning Bath back in their own half, frustrating the home side. They kept attacking, working through the phases, but small errors were stopping Bath from getting over the tryline again.
A moment of magic from Man of the Match, Anthony Perenise, however changed this 10 minutes into the second half. The Samoan prop received the ball and charged through the Newcastle defence, sending the Falcons scattering as he powered up the pitch. Sensing Woodburn flying up in support outside him, the tighthead chipped through and Woodburn surged forward, winning the foot race to touch down. 13-14.
The score settled Bath, and although Gopperth kept trying to frustrate the home side, they were regaining control of the match.
Newcastle knocked on and Heathcote took advantage, gathering the loose ball and once again breaking away down the touchline. He again drew his man, and chipped the ball through, allowing Tom Biggs to sprint away in pursuit. The winger looked to gather the ball to score, but was hauled back by Gopperth. The referee wasted no time in awarding a penalty try to Bath, and whilst Heathcote converted, Gopperth was shown a yellow card and the visitors were down to 14 men.
Bath were in the ascendency now, controlling the game in all areas. A well taken lineout saw the forwards start a strong driving maul in the Newcastle 22, and after they powered towards the try line, Perenise dived over for the bonus point try. Heathcote added the extras with a superb touchline conversion. 27-14.
Gopperth, back from the sin bin, and Heathcote traded penalties towards the end of the game, before replacement scrum-half Will Chudley stole a try at the death for the visitors. Gopperth converted with the last kick of the game to gain a valuable losing bonus point for the visitors, but it was Bath who took the win, and an all important bonus point of their own.