Bath hold on to win in Reading

Bath Rugby put fans and coaches alike through some anxious moments at the Madejski stadium on Saturday afternoon but they held firm in the end to record a 20-16 victory in Reading.

After missing an early penalty kick, Butch James got the score board moving for Bath Rugby after he was put away behind the Irish defence by scrum half Michael Claassens to score a try in the seventh minute. James was unable to convert his try.

Bath were not the only ones finding it difficult with the boot. London Irish were presented with two penalty opportunities in the ninth and 13th minutes, but fullback Peter Hewat hit the upright with one attempt and easily missed the posts with the other.

In the 19th minute, James was presented with an easy penalty opportunity right in front of the posts and he made no mistake in converting it to give Bath an 8-0 lead. Minutes later and James landed a much more difficult opportunity to take Bath's score up to 11 points.

With James unable to convert a penalty chance in 27th minute, young winger Jack Cuthbert was given an opportunity in the 28th minute and from distance his kick was successful. 14-0.

With centre Alex Crockett sin-binned in the 30th minute for fighting with Exiles hooker David Paice, the last 10 minutes of the half belonged to Irish.

Despite Bath repelling an onslaught of attack on their line, the home side eventually found a way through with prop Alex Corbisiero scoring.

Before the end of the half, Cuthbert added another penalty and Bath went into half-time 17-5 up.
The second half opened with Irish fly-half Eoghan Hickey missing a penalty before Hewat made amends with a successful penalty in the 44th minute.

Both sides then tried to find ways behind their opponents defence, either looking for the corner or testing the fullbacks. On one occasion, Irish nearly scored. Quick hands and a missed tackle allowed them to break through the Bath defence and a grubber kick towards the try line was only thwarted by the speed of Nick Abendanon who got to the ball before the oncoming Irish.

In the 65th minute, Hickey closed the gap again with a penalty to make it 17-11 to Bath. Irish increasingly looked like they would score. Turnover ball saw Irish work the ball to the wing where Elvis Seveali'i chipped over the Bath defence to score - were Bath to have lost, this would have been an ironic moment, as it was Seveali'i who once saved Bath from relegation with a similar try against London Irish a few seasons ago. As it was Hickey missed the conversion and a late Cuthbert penalty saw Bath home.

Bath Rugby: 15 Abendanon, 14 Maddock, 13 Crockett (Cheeseman 65), 12 Fuimaono-Sapolu (Berne 56), 11 Cuthbert, 10 James, 9 Claassens; 1 Barnes (Flatman 63), 2 Mears (Dixon 55), 3 Bell (Stevens 55), 4 Harrison, 5 Short, 6 Hooper, 7 Lipman (c), 8 Scaysbrook.

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