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Bath Rugby 15, NEC Harlequins 17 Ft

Leading 15-3 at the interval, a team missing twenty-three first team players ran out of steam against a Quins side that was searching for a victory to help maintain their Zurich Premiership status.

With a full squad of first team regulars missing through international duty or injury, Head Coach John Connolly was forced to ring the changes with South African Heinrich Kok making his first start at prop and new signings Steve Booth and Hugh Perrett named amongst the replacements where a certain David Flatman was a welcome inclusion having been given the all-clear to resume playing once more after nearly a year out with an Achilles tendon injury.

Further disruptions on match day morning saw Ryan Davis start after the club were given special dispensation to play the England under 21 star following Alex Crockett's withdrawal left the centre cupboard at the Rec bare. Matt Perry was also a late withdrawal, handing Steve Booth his debut on the wing with Maddock moving to full back.

It was a lacklustre opening from both sides, but chances did materialise and Quins had the first opportunity when scrum half Steve So'oialo came close to scoring only to be hauled down close to the line and turned over in the process. Bath too had opportunities and after some good work from full back Joe Maddock and winger Andy Williams Ryan Davis made a half break only to see his offload to Geraint Lewis knocked-on.

The deadlock was finally broken in the twenty-third minute when Jeremy Staunton landed a routine penalty after the home side were penalised for pulling down a maul just outside their own twenty-two.

The first try came after half an hour when Rob Fidler capitalised on some quick thinking from Martyn Wood to score in the shadow of the posts. After Quins had been penalised for pulling down a maul, Wood tapped quickly, and after a couple of phases debutant Steve Booth held the ball up superbly for Fidler to score in his 150th Zurich appearance. Malone added the conversion.

Malone stretched the lead to seven when he landed a long range penalty after Quins were penalised following a nasty collision between two of their own players. The final ten minutes of the half were all Bath and the home side pulled away when Chris Malone's sympathetic pass allowed Joe Maddock an incisive run deep into Quins territory. When the ball was recycled the impressive Ryan Davis found Lee Mears, who brushed off two tries to score. Malone's conversion drifted wide of the uprights.

After the interval Quins rallied and Sevens flier Ugo Monye crossed in the corner after some good work from the away backs. Jeremy Staunton's touchline conversion pulled the gap back to just five points.

With their confidence growing Quins proceeded to throw everything at the home defence and Daffyd James came close to levelling the scores only to be hauled down in the corner by Andy Williams. The Welshman soon atoned when he capitalised on Maddock's poor clearance kick to score near the posts. Staunton's conversion gave Quins the lead. It was a lead that the visitors were not to lose.

Bath Rugby: 15 JOE MADDOCK (PEZ), 14 ANDY WILLIAMS, 13 ANDREW HIGGINS, 12 RYAN DAVIS, 11 STEVE BOOTH, 10 CHRIS MALONE (1c, 1p), 9 MARTYN WOOD, 1 CHRIS LOADER, 2 LEE MEARS (1t), 3 HEINRICH KOK (FLATMAN), 4 JAMES HUDSON, 5 ROB FIDLER (1t), 6 GERAINT LEWIS (DELVE), 7 JAMES SCAYSBROOK
8 ZAK FEAUNATI

REPLACEMENTS: 16 DAVE WARD, 17 DAVID FLATMAN, 18 GARETH DELVE, 19 RAMIRO PEZ
20 HUGH PERRETT, 21 NICK WALSHE, 22 PETE MURCHIE

NEC Harlequins: 15. Tom Williams (Duffy), 14. George Harder, 13. Dafydd James (1t), 12. Mel Deane, 11. Ugo Monye (1t), 10. Jeremy Staunton (1c, 1p), 9. Steve So'oialo, 1. Mike Worsley, 2. Tani Fuga, 3. Ceri Jones, 4. Jim Evans, 5. Simon Maling, 6. Nick Easter, 7. Andre Vos (Capt.), 8. Tony Diprose

Replacements (to be selected from the following): James Hayter, Jon Dawson, Simon Miall, Roy Winters, Luke Sherriff, Dave von Hoesslin,
Arwel Thomas, Gavin Duffy, Simon Keogh

Referee: Steve Lander

Att: 10, 500

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