Bath Rugby 27, London Irish 15
Bath's injury blight in recent weeks has been well documented, but despite having seven players absent through injury, the home side turned on the style in front of a sell-out 10,500 crowd.
The home side started well and after some wonderful runs by Frikkie Welsh and Alex Crockett, Olly Barkley was afforded the opportunity to put three points on the board after the Exiles were penalised at a scrum. The centre duly stepped up and converted the points to give Bath Rugby the lead in the nineteenth minute.
Barkley was to become the hero just one minute later when he crossed for the opening try of the game. Chris Malone's towering up and under was dropped by Mark Mapletoft under pressure from Barkley, who hacked on and gathered wonderfully to score in the shadow of the posts. The England centre converted to give the home side a 10-0 advantage.
Irish hit back two minutes later when Mark Mapletoft landed a penalty from in front of the posts when Bath Rugby were caught offside in midfield. However, it was to be a short-lived resurgence as Bath Rugby scored a wonderful try from a lineout inside the Irish 22. Rob Fidler powered on from James Hudson's clean take, before passing to Nick Walshe who set Zak Feaunati free for a try under the posts. Olly Barkley added the simple conversion.
Feaunati left the field moments later with his eye looking decisively closed-up to be replaced by returnee Gareth Delve, whilst Lipman made way for the in-form Scaysbrook after sustaining a knock to the shin. However, the changes had little disruption as Alex Crockett scored his side's third try after some excellent work from Brendon Daniel and Matt Perry. Crockett, who has been a shining light at outside centre, beat Paul Hodgson to touch down in the corner for a superb try which was converted by Barkley.
Barkley had a hand in Irish's only try of the first half when his speculative pass from a scrum deep in injury time was picked off by Justin Bishop who raced in from fifty minutes to score in the corner. Mapletoft missed with the conversion, but Irish had a glimmer of light.
Despite Bath Rugby's best efforts, the only score of the second half came through an Olly Barkley penalty early on. Irish though refused to lie down and hit back through a late Ryan Strudwick try to give hope of a bonus point, whilst two long periods camped inside the Irish 22 were fruitless for the home side and Bath Rugby had to be content with the four points consolidating their fourth position in the table.
Bath Rugby: 15 Matt Perry, 14 Frikkie Welsh, 13 Alex Crockett (1t) (rep Maddock), 12 Olly Barkley (1t, 3c, 2p), 11 Brendon Daniel (rep Davey), 10 Chris Malone, 9 Nick Walshe (Wood), 1 David Barnes (rep Kok), 2 Jonathan Humphreys © (rep Mears), 3 Duncan Bell, 4 James Hudson, 5 Rob Fidler, 6 Andy Beattie, 7 Michael Lipman (rep Scaysbrook), 8 Zak Feaunati (1t) (rep Delve).
Reps: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Heinrich Kok, 18 James Scaysbrook, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Martyn Wood, 21 Spencer Davey, 22 Joe Maddock.
London Irish: 15. Michael Horak*; 14. Justin Bishop*; 13. Geoff Appleford*; 12. Mark Mapletoft*; 11. Scott Staniforth*; 10. Mike Catt*; 9. Paul Hodgson; 1. Doug Wheatley; 2. David Paice; 3. Rob Hardwick*; 4. Nick Kennedy; 5. Bob Casey* (captain); 6. Paul Gustard; 7. Declan Danaher; 8. Phil Murphy*.
Reps: 16. Adam Halsey; 17. James Van Der Walt; 18. Roland Reid*; 19. Ryan Strudwick; 20. Nils Mordt; 21. Darren Edwards; 22. Barry Everitt.
Cards: Reid (Irish)
Ref: David Rose