Bath Rugby scored four tries on their way to an impressive 38-14 bonus-point victory against Harlequins at the Recreation Ground, a win that takes them back into the Aviva Premiership top four.
It was a blistering start to the game from Bath, with the first try coming after just two minutes. Aled Brew skilfully tapped the high-ball back, finding Elliott Stooke in support. The second rower offloaded to Freddie Burns, who found Zach Mercer outside him. The young flanker went on a mazy run, dancing around the Quins defence, before passing to Paul Grant who ran in for the score. Burns added the extras. 7-0.
With eight minutes on the clock, Quins were reduced to 14 men, as James Chisholm was sent to the sin-bin for a tip tackle on Kahn Fotuali’i.
The home side took advantage of their extra man, with Matt Banahan bursting his way through the midfield. The centre was tackled just short of the line, but the ball quickly found its way into the hands of Burns who, in acres of space, had a simple stroll across the line to score his first Aviva Premiership try for Bath. He converted his own score, doubling the lead to 14-0.
Three minutes later and Bath were galloping over the try-line once more, this time with the forwards at the heart of it. Anthony Perenise and Tom Dunn combined well in the midfield, Matt Garvey continued the move and, after the ball was flicked wide by Banahan, Stooke powered his way over in the corner. 19-0.
Harlequins looked like they’d scored themselves through Tim Visser, but the try was chalked off after consultation with the Television Match Official for a knock-on by Dave Ward in the build-up.
20 minutes on the clock and Bath had the bonus point try in the bag. Fotuali’i – who was again instrumental in driving the home side forward – sprung from the bottom of a rock with ball in hand and sprinted up the pitch. He sent a looping pass out to Banahan, who got the ball down despite the attentions of two Quins defenders. Burns added the extras once more to take the score to 26-0.
Once they were restored to 15 men, Quins began to find some shape and spent 10 minutes camped in the Bath 22 before managing to break the defence – replacement Henry Cheeseman sneaking through from short range. James Lang added the conversion. 26-7.
Burns extended the lead with a penalty on 38 minutes and managed to hold out the Quins attack to close out a strong first half.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 29 – Harlequins 7
After a frenetic opening 40 minutes, the capacity crowd had to wait 20 minutes for another score - Burns adding a further three points from the boot to put daylight between the two teams. 32-7.
Harlequins hit back three minutes later with their second try of the afternoon. Replacement Josh Lewis showed his acceleration with a stunning break from one 22 to the other, but lost possession in the tackle. The loose ball ended up in the hands of replacement Gabriel Ibitoye, and the winger showed his electric pace to score a memorable breakaway try, despite the best efforts of the closing Max Lahiff. 32-14.
With the game going into the last 10 minutes, Lewis had the chance to score his first points of the afternoon, and the fly-half didn’t disappoint from the tee, as he extended Bath’s lead to 21 points. 35-14.
Bath continued to control the game, and with a minute to play Lewis added another three points to close out an impressive victory at the Rec.
Final score: Bath Rugby 38 - Harlequins 14