Bath maintain European momentum

Two Nick Abendanon tries, a Joe Maddock try and three Olly Barkley penalties gave Bath Rugby a welcome 24-18 victory in the European Challenge Cup match against NEC Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.

Bath began the match as they would finish it, playing some fierce attacking rugby that was matched by an improving defence. Scrum-half Nick Walshe made the first foray into Harlequins territory making a break from his own half that would see the ball moved through several quick phases only to be ultimately ruined with a dangerous tackle by Joe Maddock on Quins wing David Strettle seeing the New Zealander being awarded a yellow card.

In the 10th minute sustained Quins pressure looked likely to yield a try for the home side, only for Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu to turnover the ball in the tackle and setup up Shaun Berne who then ran virtually the whole length of the pitch before finding winger Nick Abendanon who touched down to open the scoring. Olly Barkley missed the resulting conversion.

A few minutes later David Strettle nearly leveled the scores by outpacing his marker and chipping ahead. However his kick was just too long and the ball went dead just before he could reach it.

Bath then stretched their lead to eight points through a Barkley penalty only for Quins fly-half Adrian Jarvis to score a penalty of his own moments later.

In the 28th minute, Bath won their line-out and played some very attractive attacking rugby, again using the phases to their advantage. The culmination of the move saw Andy Beattie popping a pass to the man of the moment Nick Abendanon who crashed over the whitewash to score his second try. It was obvious that his stint the previous weekend in a rain lashed Dubai with the England Sevens squad was proving beneficial.

The final minutes of the first-half were all about the home side. Firstly, after being on the receiving end of a high tackle earlier in the game, David Strettle was sin binned for doing exactly the same on a Bath player and then the Harlequins captain Paul Volley also received a yellow card. Secondly Adrian Jarvis reduced the point's gap with two penalties.

With another Olly Barkley penalty being landed just before the break, the away side went into half-time 16-9 to the good.

In the opening exchanges of the second-half, Nick Abendanon nearly completed a hatrick of tries only for him to knock-on after receiving the ball from Maddock in front of the try-line.

Over a ten minute period, Harlequins clawed their way back into the game as Bath gave away three successive penalties and Jarvis gladly hit all three between the uprights to give Quins an 18-16 lead. However the lead was short lived with Barkley scoring a penalty of his own in the 57th minute.

With time pressing on, Harlequins brought on Andrew Mehrtens in the hope of using the former All Black's kicking game to give them an advantage. The substitution nearly paid off with Quins setting up a drop-goal opportunity only for Mehrtens not being able to gather the pass sent to him.

With the game going to the death, some superb Bath defence kept Harlequins at bay in their own half. Then, much to the relief of a tense Bath side, Maddock sealed the win with a well taken try in the far right hand corner to give Bath a 24-18 victory.


10 - Try Abendanon, 0-5
19 - Pen Barkley, 0-8
23 - Pen Jarvis, 3-8
28 - Try Abendanon, 3-13
38 - Pen Jarvis, 6-13
40 - Pen Jarvis, 9-13
40+2 - Pen Barkley, 9-16
47 - Pen Jarivs, 12-16
52 - Pen Jarvis, 15-16
55 - Pen Jarvis, 18-16
57 - Pen Barkley 18-19
80+2 - Try Maddock 24-18

BATH: 15. M Perry (Cheeseman, 5) 14. J Maddock (sin-bin: 4) 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. N Abendanon 10. S Berne (Malone, 76) 9. N Walshe 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears 3. L Ovens 4. P Short (Fidler, 76) 5. D Grewcock 6. A Beattie 7. J Scaysbrook (Faamatuainu, 47) 8. Z Feaunati (captain)

Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. A Jarvis 18. R Fidler 19. J Faamatuainu 20. P Travagli 21. C Malone 22. T Cheeseman

HARLEQUINS: 15. T Williams 14. D Strettle (sin-bin: 34) 13. H Luscombe, 12. S Abbott 11. U Monye (Duffy, 80) 10. A Jarvis (Mehrtens, 70) 9. D Care (So'oialo, 58) 1. C Jones 2. T Fuga 3. L Ward (Nebbett 63) 4. J Evans 5. N Spanghero (Kohn, 63) 6. T Guest (Skinner, 63) 7. P Volley (sin-bin: 40) 8. N Easter

Replacements: 16. J Richards 17. R Nebbett 18. O Kohn 19. W Skinner 20 S So'oialo 21 A Mehrtens 22 G Duffy

Referee: E Darriere

Attendance: 10,522

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