Bath Rugby fought their way to a 21-14 win over Worcester Warriors at the Recreation Ground this afternoon.
The home side started strongly, keeping Worcester pinned in their own half for much of the opening 10 minutes. The pressure told after Chris Cook disrupted play at the base of the Worcester scrum, enabling Guy Mercer to pounce on the loose ball. The captain charged forward, the ball was recycled and Ollie Devoto was on hand to power over the line, despite the attention of some visiting defence. Rhys Priestland added the conversion, giving Bath a 7-0 lead.
Warriors fly-half Tom Heathcote and Priestland exchanged penalties over the next ten minutes, before centre Ryan Mills stepped up for the visitors to strike a long-range penalty and take them within four points.
The visitors were playing with determination, and a strong run from centre Wynand Olivier set-up Cooper Vuna to cross the try line. There was no conversion, however it put Worcester ahead on the scoreboard for the first time in the match.
It was a lead that was to be short lived however, as Horacio Agulla scored in the last minute of the half to re-gain the lead for Bath. The build-up was incredibly patient, the home side working through multiple phases from the set piece before Jonathan Joseph passed wide to the Argentinian winger. Agulla drove over the line and, despite the attentions of two Worcester defenders, touched down just inside the line.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 15 – Worcester Warriors 11
After an attacking first-half, it was the defences that came to the fore in the second – the majority of the last 40 minutes being played in the middle third of the pitch.
Priestland opened the second-half scoring with a fine penalty, but it was quickly cancelled out by one from Heathcote.
The home side were just edging the battle for territory, and when Worcester were found guilty of slowing the ball down following another Bath attack, Priestland took the lead to 21-14 with another penalty.
As Bath had in the closing minutes of the first-half, so Worcester fought hard in the second, with a draw still a possibility for them.
However, the Bath defence stood firm, as it had all game, and held out for an important win.
Final score: Bath Rugby 21 – Worcester Warriors 14