Bath Rugby came unstuck against an impressive Scarlets side who secured a 17-35 victory in Round 5 of the European Rugby Champions Cup at the Rec.
Scarlets took the lead inside 10 minutes with a superb counter-attack, finished off by Tadgh Beirn. Rhys Patchell created the move, as the visitors burst into the Bath half with a series of offloads. The ball then found its way to Beirn, who jinked his way through the defence to score. Dan Jones added the conversion. 0-7.
Bath got their first points on 22 minutes with a penalty, after coming inches from scoring of their own. Matt Banahan took the crash ball, but was halted just short of the line. However, the referee signalled for the penalty and showed a yellow card to John Barclay, who came in from the side. Freddie Burns, who came on for Rhys Priestland on the fourth minute, slotted the kick. 3-7.
There was little respite for the Bath defence though as Scarlets continued to pile on the pressure. The visitors quickly moved the ball through the hands from left to right, and Paul Asquith provided the finish in the corner. 3-12.
Seven minutes later, and the Pro 12 Champions had their third - scrum-half Gareth Davies fended off the challenges to release Hadleigh Parkes, who scored under the posts. Jones was on target with the conversion. 3-19.
The Welsh side were impressive throughout the opening 40 minutes, maintaining the pressure and not allowing Bath to get any foothold in the game, and Jones added another three points to extend the lead at the interval.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 3 – Scarlets 22.
10 minutes into the second-half, and despite some resilience from the home side, Scarlets orchestrated their bonus point try. Rhys Patchell opted for a grubber through the gap, and it landed in the arms of Scott Williams who dived over the whitewash in the corner. Jones was on target for the extra two. 3-29.
Bath crossed the line with just over 20 minutes to play, and it was a moment of brilliance from the men in black. They worked through the phases, drawing the defence. Burns spotted the space out wide and kicked into the corner, finding the soaring Matt Banahan, who managed to stay in field and touchdown for the try in the air, despite the best efforts of the Scarlets defence. Burns added the conversion. 10-29.
Jones added a further penalty 12 minutes from time, but the home side continued to press in the final quarter and it was Zach Mercer who profited. The back rower powered his way over from close range with six minutes remaining, and Burns was again successful with the conversion. 17-32.
Scarlets held out though, and with just a minute remaining, Jones added a long range penalty to secure an impressive victory for the Welsh side.
There is still hope for Bath to qualify for the knock-out stages, with all eyes now on the trip to Benetton next Saturday.
Final score: Bath Rugby 17 – Scarlets 35.
European Rugby Champions Cup
12 January 2018
Referee: Jérome Garcès
Half Time score: 3-22
- Tries: Banahan (57), Mercer (73)
- Conversions: Burns (57, 73)
- Penalties: Burns (21)
- Tries: Beirne (10), Asquith (24), Parkes (31), Williams (50)
- Conversions: Jones (11, 32, 52)
- Penalties: Jones (39, 68, 79)