Bath Rugby got back to winning ways in style this afternoon with a bonus point away 23-44 win over London Irish.
Spurred on by the home support in the mood for a St Patricks Day Party, it was Irish who made the brighter start. James O’Conner had the chance to register the first points of the game inside the first 10 minutes, but his kick drifted wayward allowing Bath to clear their lines.
The home side’s momentum was then disrupted as prop Matt Parr was sent to the bin for holding back a rampaging Semesa Rokoduguni as he looked to charge forward on a loose ball.
Patient build-up play by Bath eventually led to Irish conceding the penalty at the breakdown after a powerful maul. Fresh from England duty, George Ford slotted the straightforward kick to score the first points of the match after 20 minutes. 0-3.
Irish hit straight back though when Bath were penalised for pulling down the scrum and this time, O’Conner was on target with his kick. 3-3.
Some good work from Anthony Watson, followed by a booming box kick by Ford, paid dividends for the visitors and after some great pressure from Rokoduguni, Irish conceded the penalty. Ford kept his cool and slotted another three points. 3-6.
With 10 minutes until half-time, a thunderous rolling maul from Irish saw them barrel their way towards the Bath line. Topsy Ojo emerged as the scorer from under a pile of bodies as O’Conner converted to move the home side into the lead for the first time in the match. 10-6
Bath were not deterred and a sublime team move from the re-start allowed the back line to turn on the pace and Kyle Eastmond dived over in the corner, after a neat pass from Nick Abendanon. 10-11.
In a nervy end to the first-half, Ford and O’Connor exchanged two more penalties, with Ford having the last word on the stroke of half-time to nudge the visitors back into the lead.
Half-time: London Irish 13 - Bath Rugby 14
Irish started the second-half with the same attacking tenacity as they had in the first, but Bath soon began to find their stride. Watson danced past three defenders, carving a brilliant attacking line that created another penalty opportunity for Ford, who made no mistake in extending the lead. 13-17.
After Ford and Geraghty traded penalties, the half came alive when Nick Abendanon darted through a gap in the Irish defence before offloading to the supporting Watson to score against his old club. Ford again split the posts with the extras. 16-27.
The metronomic right boot of Ford further increased the scoreline after a powerful Bath scrum earned yet another penalty. The fly-half was orchestrating proceedings beautifully and as Watson punctured the Irish defence, a few quick phases later, David Wilson crashed over under the posts leaving Ford with simplest of conversions. 16-37.
The home side kept trying to come at Bath, and as the final 10 minutes ticked away, the visitors were forced to play defensively. Irish made their possession count as replacement Chris Hala’Ufia barged his way over from close range. A quick conversion by O’Conner set up an exciting finish as Irish sensed a losing bonus point.
However, momentum switched once more as Irish skipper George Skivington was sent to the sin-bin with two minutes left on the clock. Bath, looking for a bonus point of their own, powered their way up field and were soon rewarded as Matt Garvey bulldozed over the whitewash to score the all-important fourth try, and leave Man of the Match Ford with a straightforward conversion.
Final score: London Irish 23 - Bath Rugby 44