14 August 2013, 9:53am
There was no separating Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons last night, as the two Premiership rivals played out an entertaining 21-21 draw in Beziers.
Centre Matt Banahan looked to have settled the result eight minutes from time, when he plucked a floated midfield pass out of their air for an interception run-in.
But Newcastle battled back to level the scores on 78 minutes when Kiwi wing Ryan Shortland cut inside to score, Phil Godman converting.
Both sides looked to gain as much as they could from their first outing of the season, neither side opting to go for goal when awarded penalties, instead preferring to boot the ball to touch.
It was from one such attacking line-out that Bath opened the scoring midway through the first half, Anthony Perenise being driven over in the left corner before Tom Heathcote added the extras from out wide.
A 14-0 half-time lead was assured when full-back Anthony Watson picked a great line at pace to score under the posts, but the Falcons hit back after the break.
The second half was only two minutes old when Shortland profited from quick hands and a well-worked set move at a close-range line-out down the left, Godman securing the touchline conversion on a scorching hot French evening.
And with gaps beginning to appear, a three-on-two allowed Noah Cato to score in the opposite corner, Godman again knocking over the conversion.
That all set up a fitting finale, Banahan and Shortland's tries ensuring neither side emerged victorious – a fair outcome in a game of positives for both clubs.
Bath Rugby: A Watson, S Rokoduguni, M Banahan, O Devoto, T Biggs, T Heathcote, P Stringer; N Catt, R Batty, A Perenise, S Hooper, M Garvey, W Skuse, G Mercer, L Houston.
Replacements: T Dunn, P James,K Palma-Newport, D Day, W Spencer,D Sisi, M Gilbert, N Koster, M Roberts, M Young, C Cook, A Fa'osiliva.
Bath scorers – Tries: A Perenise, A Watson, M Banahan. Conversions: T Heathcote 2 O Devoto.
Newcastle Falcons: T Catterick, A Higgins, M Tait, A Crockett, S Brown, J Hodgson, C Pilgrim; G Strain, M Thompson, S Wilson, S Tomes, F McKenzie, R Mayhew, W Welch (captain), C York.
Replacements: M Blair, C del Fava, M Tait, S MacLeod, P Godman, R Shortland, N Cato, O Tomaszczyk, R Vickers, S Lawson, D Barnes, J Helleur, A Tait, A Hogg, D Barrow.
Falcons scorers – Tries: R Shortland 2, N Cato. Conversions: P Godman 3.