Bath clinch victory over Harlequins in tense encounter

A Michael Claassens try and twelve points from Butch James earned Bath a vital home victory holding on to beat Harlequins in their penultimate home fixture. Final Score 19-15.

The first ten minutes of the game saw Harlequins with the greater possession, forcing Bath to defend early on. The home side showed a cohesive defence turning over Quins and responding well in attack.

A superb flat ball from Nick Abendanon found open side flanker Guy Mercer who blasted through the gain line. Isolated with just the fullback in front of him, Mercer showed some fancy football skills attempting a chip and chase but was unfortunate to knock it on in his recovery of the ball.

Bath were back attacking moments later. In his 100th appearance for Bath, lock Peter Short drew the defence well and popped the ball off to Shontayne Hape on the burst. Hape weaved towards the line and offloaded inside to number 8 Ben Skirving who, tackled just short of the try line, passed skilfully off the floor to captain Claassens who went on to score the first try of the game. Fly Half Butch James converted. 7-0.

Despite Bath's early score, Quins showed how dangerous they can be when attacking, however strong defence from the home side prevented a try but Quins gained three points when Bath were deemed offside; fly half Nick Evans converted. Once again, Evans clawed back another three points minutes later, when Bath infringed offside. 7-6.

James missed an early chance at goal but made amends with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half. A high tackle on David Wilson provided the opportunity and James made sure the points didn't go amiss. 9-6.

Bath's discipline enabled Quins to stay in the game with more infringements allowing Evans to take his chances at goal. Having missed one just right of the posts, another chance in front of the posts proved successful and took the visitors just one point behind Bath.

Half Time 10-9.

Bath earned themselves the first points of the second half with an aggressive start, attacking directly at the Quins defence and they working their way nearer towards the try line. A forward battle commenced at the scrum and was all too much for the visitors, as they were penalised for collapsing the scrum. James stepped up and struck well sending the ball through the middle of the sticks. 13-9.

The half time whistle had seen a reversal in trend as Harlequins seemed to be giving away penalties early on with a high tackle on Mercer. Finding some consistency, James again converted successfully. 16.9.

Bath did however infringe shortly after with the front row were penalised for improper binding in the scrum. Evans converted. 16-12.

Quins found some structure with sixty minutes played and went surging through the Bath defensive line. Great covering tackles prevented a try but Bath suffered three points after the loss of Sam Vesty to the sin bin and Evans took the three points. 16-15.

Shortly after the restart, James replied to the previous penalty with another great penalty of his own. 19-15.

Just over five minutes remained in the game and both sides took their chances at attacking their opposition, and with Bath only four points ahead Quins still could not cross the Bath try line.

Time was up on the clock and Quins threw everything at Bath knowing only a try would clinch the win; piling numbers towards the Bath line, a battle at the break down began.

Phase after phase and Bath were still holding on, forever closer Quins got to the line. Bath's staunch defence prevailed with Quins knocking the ball on metres short of the try line. The referee's whistle blew and the game was over with Bath getting that all important win.

Full time 19-15

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