Bath Rugby were made to work right to the final whistle, as they claimed a hard-fought 18-22 victory against a spirited London Irish side at the Madejski Stadium.
It was Irish, who got the scoreboard ticking over, with Tommy Bell kicking the home side into an early lead with just three minutes on the clock. However, Bath hit back just four minutes later with a well-worked try finished off by Matt Banahan. Aled Brew was the architect of the move, as the Welsh winger offloaded to Paul Grant on the touchline, before the centre found his midfield partner to score. 3-7
Burns extended Bath’s lead to seven points six minutes later, before Irish reduced the deficit with their first try of the afternoon. The home side took a quick free-kick in the midfield, before switching play to the left wing, where Joe Cokanasiga put fullback James Marshall through over the whitewash. 8-10
Midway through the half and with Bath dictating play in the Irish 22, Kahn Fotuali’i found Burns in the pocket, and the fly-half showed his composure to slot a drop goal. 8-13
With just 13 minutes until the interval, Burns was back on the scoreboard once again. After Irish were penalised at the scrum on halfway, Burns called for a long range kick at goal. The distance was no problem for Burns, as he continued his recent scoring form in impressive fashion. 8-16
Irish then found themselves within touching distance of their second try, but for the intervention of Fotuali’i, who denied Marshall with the try line in his reach. Alex Lewington made the initial break down the left wing before finding Marshall, who was momentarily halted by captain Matt Garvey. As the Irish fullback regained his feet and made his dive for the line, Fotuali’i came sweeping across to bundle his man into touch.
However, Irish weren’t finished for the half, clawing back a further three points through Bell to put his side within five points.
Half-time score – London Irish 11-16 Bath Rugby
Burns increased Bath’s advantage to eight points seven minutes into the second-half, taking his tally to 14 points for the afternoon. It was quickly 17 points for Burns, as he helped put a bit of daylight on proceedings with another pinpoint penalty with 20 minutes to play. 11-22
Irish continued to show their resilience, as they fought their way back into the game. With penalty advantage looming in the Bath 22, Irish made the pressure count, as Scott Steele found his way through the Bath tacklers to make it a tense final five minutes. 18-22.
Bath spent the remaining few minutes of the match camped on their own line, but the visitors managed to survive the Irish onslaught and close out the game.
Full-time score – London Irish 18-22 Bath Rugby