Bath Rugby secure bonus-point victory against Harlequins

Two tries from Joe Cokanasiga and Zach Mercer gave Bath Rugby a 32-37 bonus-point victory against Harlequins at The Stoop.  

The first points of the game came 11 minutes in and they belonged to Bath. The ball was spread to the left wing to Jackson Willison, who nudged a kick into the Harlequins 22. Joe Cokanasiga gathered the loose ball excellently and offloaded to the supporting Jamie Roberts, who marked his return to The Stoop with a try. Freddie Burns was inches away from adding the conversion out wide, as his kick bounced off the woodwork. [0-5]

Bath were penalised for offside just three minutes later and Marcus Smith reduced the deficit to two points with a successful kick. [3-5]

Harlequins kept the pressure up and added to the scoreboard just a minute later. Former Bath man Ben Tapuai found a hole in the defensive line, with the back-tracking Burns managing to halt his former teammate just short of the line. However, the centre found the juggling Danny Care, who managed to secure the ball at the second time of asking and score their first try of the game. Smith made it a seven-point score with the conversion in front of the posts. [10-5]

Harlequins increased their advantage mid-way through the first half, with James Chisholm intercepting Burns’ pass in the midfield and the back rower sent Joe Marchant over the whitewash to extend the home side's lead. [15-5]

Following relentless pressure in attack, Bath hit back just a few minutes later through Zach Mercer. Bath used quick ball from the breakdown, and Mercer was on hand to muscle his way over the line impressively from close range. Burns’ successful conversion reduced the deficit to just three points. [15-12]

Bath found themselves on the front foot and came within a whisker of another try, but Mercer's pass out wide just eluded Elliott Stooke on the wing. However, referee Matthew Carley pulled play back for an earlier penalty offence, and Burns levelled proceedings 10 minutes from the break. [15-15]

Bath took the lead four minutes later, as Burns notched an opportunistic drop-goal. With Bath in attacking territory, the ball found the fly-half in the pocket, and the ball just crept over the sticks. [15-18]

Bath struck again three minutes later, and it was a moment of magic from Joe Cokanasiga. It was the rolling maul, which gave the visitors the attacking platform, with Tom Dunn taking the Blue, Black and White deep into the Harlequins 22. The ball was sent out wide to Semesa Rokoduguni, who cleverly found Cokanasiga with the offload, with the winger finishing acrobatically in the corner. Burns’ touchline conversion was successful and to go into the interval with a 10-point lead [15-25]

Half-time - Harlequins 15-25 Bath Rugby

Bath were quick out of the blocks in the second half, adding to their lead just five minutes into the second half. Jackson Willison found a gap in the hosts' defence before offloading to captain Luke Charteris who galloped up the field to just outside the Harlequins 22. The ball then found Burns on the left flank, with the fly-half dummying the defender before releasing Cokanasiga for his second try of the game. [15-30]

Smith put his side to within 12 points on the scoreboard with a routine penalty with 54 minutes on the clock. [18-30]

Bath continued to use the rolling maul to good effect, and was a key component in the next score of the game. After rampaging up field, Mercer took the ball from the ruck and used his pace and footwork to come in from the left wing to dot down. Rhys Priestland’s conversion was successful and the hosts had a 19-point lead with 24 minutes left to play. [18-37]

With Bath down to 14 men following the sin-bin of Rokoduguni, Harlequins took advantage as Joe Marler bundled over from a metre out following several phases on the Bath line. James Lang added the extras with four minutes to play in the second half. [25-37]

Harlequins continued to press, and found their way back into the game a minute from time. The home side went through the stages patiently, before Charlie Mulchrone provided the magic touch to take them within five points with less than 20 seconds to play. [32-37]

Bath valiantly held out the closing stages to ensure the points would be heading back to the West Country. 

Full-time - Harlequins 32-37 Bath Rugby 

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