If you had been hoping for a match less tense than the victory wrought over Sale Sharks last weekend, you were out of luck last night at the Madejski stadium. With seconds to go and the score at 22 - 20 to Bath, like Charlie Hodgson, London Irish's Eoghan Hickey, made an attempt at a drop goal to snatch the win. He failed. Bath Rugby walked away victorious.
Three points down after five minutes, Bath faced a tough match against London Irish last night and within the first 30 minutes, the only points that had been scored were by the home side - leaving Bath with an uphill climb.
Bath won the first line out and the ball was passed to Ryan Davis, who didn't waste any time sprinting forward. He was taken down near Irish's 22, with the scrum being awarded to the hosting team. Another line out quickly followed, won by Bath and deftly driven by Danny Grewcock, playing only his second game this season.
Ryan Davis made a strong pass to Tom Cheeseman who broke through the green defence and found Scaysbrook, who made a rapid charge. Bath were given the chance to put some points on their side of the scoreboard, but as the ball landed just wide of the posts, they had some catching up to do.
Fans were delighted to see the return of David Flatman, and with an Irish charge heading their way, Flatman and Peter Short halted the run to the sound of Irish roars. Unfortunately for Bath, a penalty was awarded and successfully executed by Irish a few minutes later and with ten minutes left before half-time, Irish Hooker, David Paice, slammed over the line for first and final try of the match.
With Irish in the lead at 11 - 0 and with five minutes left until the half-time whistle, Shaun Berne finds Ian Davey with a long pass, who in turn, passes the ball to Cheeseman and back to Davey. Davey explodes down the wing, with London Irish in hot pursuit, but they cannot match his speed and Davey crashes over the line for a try, taking the score to 11 - 7 to Irish at half-time.
After half-time, Bath came on with a new pace and vigour. Within three minutes Davis and Cheeseman had ensured that the ball had made good headway into Irish's territory and Shaun Berne had kicked a further three points.
Irish followed Berne's trend, by kicking their score up to 17 points, having first had a midfield run taken down by Ian Davey and a chip and chase attempt halted by Michael Stephenson.
Andy Higgins chased the lost Irish ball to within inches of the Irish try line, and a scrum ensued. A driving maul forced Irish far enough back to enable Daniel Browne to plant the ball firmly over the line for a try, matching Irish's score 17 for 17.
Seconds later, Irish plant a penalty kick between the posts, putting them back in the lead, but with Berne having sent the ball into touch at the top corner and the pack driving strong towards the line, Grewcock sealed the victory by thumping down the ball for the final try of the game. In the dying moments, Irish attempt to claw back, but with an unbreakable defensive line by Bath, there was only one winner - Bath Rugby. Final score 22 - 20 to Bath.
15. M Stephenson 14. A Higgins 13. T Cheeseman 12. S Berne 11. I Davey 10. R Davis 9. N Walshe 1. D Flatman 2. P Dixon 3. A Jarvis, 4. P Short 5. D Grewcock 6. J Faamatainu 7. J Scaysbrook 8. Z Feaunati (c)
16. R Hawkins 17. D Barnes 18. P Ion 19. D Browne 20. M Lipman 21. M Claassens 22. N Abendanon
15. D Armitage 14. T Ojo 13. S Mapusua 12. N Mordt 11. S Tagicakibau 10. E Hickey 9. P Hodgson 1. T Lea'aetoa 2. D Paice 3. F Rautenbach 4. N Kennedy 5. B Casey (c) 6. D Danaher 7. S Armitage 8. R Thorpe
16. T Warren 17. S Mackie 18. D Murphy 19. J Hudson 20. K Roche 21. W Fury 22. M Ireland