Bath Rugby were defeated 22-13 at Franklin’s Gardens after three first half tries from Northampton Saints proved too big a gap to close for the visitors.
Bath started the first half brightly, putting early pressure on the home side. It paid off on 13 minutes, with a penalty being awarded to Bath, and Olly Barkley stepping up to secure the three points and an early lead.
However, Northampton soon came back at the visitors, and in their first real foray into the Bath half, came away with a try. From the lineout, Saints kept hold of the ball, worked through phase after phase, and eventually stretched the Bath defence too far as Phil Dowson snuck over in the corner. Ryan Lamb just pushed the conversion wide, 5-3.
Their second came soon after, as Ryan Lamb chipped through and over the defence, and centre George Pisi gathered. Tom Wood was on hand to collect the scoring pass from Pisi, and the flanker went in under the posts, giving Lamb a simple conversion. 12-3.
After Nick Abendanon had seen yellow for killing the ball and Lamb had secured the subsequent penalty, Saints took advantage of the extra man. Lamb once more chipped ahead, and this time the kick was gathered by James Downey. Lee Dickson slung a loose pass out on to the wing, and Jamie Elliot juggled and just held on to the ball to touch down for the Saints’ third try. Lamb once more added the extras, and the score remained the same up to half time - 22-3.
The second half started in much the same way as the first – Barkley landed a penalty after Saints were judged to have made a high tackle, but the home side were soon piling on the pressure again. This time though, Bath’s defence stood firm, even when fly-half Stephen Donald was sent to the sin-bin after being found to have held Wood on the line illegally.
More determined defence from Bath kept the home side out, and even though it looked as if Elliot had crossed for his second, Lamb’s pass was deemed forward and the try was not awarded.
Bath were fighting hard, and slowly working their way up the pitch into the Saints half. The pressure was telling on the home side as first replacement Samu Manoa and then Downey saw yellow within a minute of each other as Bath were on the attack.
The Bath forwards were now on the front foot, and surged forward in the resulting scrum, pushing the Northampton pack backwards and over the line, and allowing captain Francois Louw to touch down for the try. Barkley added the extras, taking the score to 22-13.
Both sides battled hard in the last quarter of the game, but whilst it was a much improved performance in the second half, Bath were unable to break through the strong Saints defence to earn a losing bonus point.
Final Score 22-13.