Bath Rugby secured a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs tonight with a 26-27 win at Harlequins, their first Premiership win at the Stoop since 2004.
In a see-saw encounter the home side opened the scoring with Ugo Monye, making his last home appearance, latching on to a long pass from Nick Evans and racing over in the corner. The fly-half couldn't find his angle to add the conversion. 5-0.
A stolen lineout was the catalyst for Bath's first points. Leroy Houston broke from the melee, going on typically powerful run. The move broke down, but Francois Louw was on hand to win the penalty when Harlequins infringed, and George Ford bisected the posts. 5-3.
Houston and Louw were instrumental moments later in getting Bath's first try. Taking a smart line off Kyle Eastmond, Houston once again bulldozed his way through the Quins defence. He found Louw on his shoulder five metres out with a neat offload, and the Springbok flew over the line. Ford added the extras. 5-10.
A drop-goal attempt from Ford went wide before Evans closed the gap with a penalty on 29 minutes, and the home side regained the lead two minutes before half-time – referee Greg Garner awarding a penalty try, which Evans converted.
Half-time: Harlequins 15 – Bath Rugby 10
Bath came out firing at the start of the second half and within five minutes the lead was back with them. Peter Stringer received the ball from the lineout and quickly found Horacio Agulla, who ran a superb line to score near the posts. Ford added the conversion. 15-17.
It looked as if Quins were going to reply almost straight away, but Matt Banahan sprinted back to catch George Lowe with an impressive try-saving tackle.
Evans nudged his side further ahead with a couple of penalties to continue the back and forth nature of the game, before Houston was once again in the thick of the action. Replacement prop Nick Auterac barged his way through a hole in the home defence before Sam Burgess found his back-row colleague Houston in the tiniest of gaps to crash over. Ford was once again on target with the conversion. 21-24.
Harlequins immediately responded with a try, Monye touching down for his second, although Evans was unable to convert.
But the visitors kept hunting for the winning points, and when Quins infringed at the lineout, Ford stepped up to take the 40m penalty. Straight and true, the ball sailed through the posts, and from there the visitors held on and secured their semi-final spot.
Final score: Harlequins 26 – Bath Rugby 27.