Francois Louw's last minute try secured a second away bonus point win for Bath Rugby in the Amlin Challenge Cup this evening, after a nail-biting game with SU Agen. Final Score 22-27.
It was the home side who struck first after they had enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages. It looked like fly-half Raphael Lagarde was going for a drop-goal, but instead he was chipping over the Bath defence towards the posts, and whilst Dan Hipkiss was quick to react, Agen centre Benjamin Petre got there first and touched down for the opening score. Lagarde added the extras, 7-0.
In blustery conditions, Stephen Donald hit back for the visitors just a minute later with a penalty after Agen were pinged for not rolling away. 7-3.
It looked as if Agen had got their second try soon after, but Dave Attwood managed to get underneath the home attack to hold the ball up over the line.
Lagarde added three more points after 20 minutes with a penalty of his own, and whilst Donald had the opportunity going into the last ten minutes of the half, his kick was wide. 10-3.
However, it was the visitors who finished the first half with the momentum. The Bath scrum had been dominant for the majority of the first half, winning an early penalty against the head. They did the same again on the 33rd minute, shoving the Agen scrum back towards the line, and when Opeti Fonua lost control of the ball, Michael Claassens snipped from short range to touch down. Donald was just wide with the conversion, meaning there was just two points between the sides at half-time.
Bath looked set to carry that momentum through to the second-half, and whilst Agen were again first to strike with a penalty from Lagarde, Nick Abendanon made a scintillating break from deep to take play right into the home 22. Dave Attwood and Paul James were quick to recycle the ball, and having found Kyle Eastmond out wide, the winger stepped outside the defender and dived over the line for Bath's second try. Donald converted, giving Bath the lead for the first time in the game. 13-15.
A tense, see-saw game developed as the second-half continued, with Lagarde putting the home side back in front moments later with another successful penalty.
Bath hit back five minutes after with another try. A powerful drive from the forwards saw play taken right up to the Agen try-line, and as the defenders were drawn in, space was created outside. The ball came out quickly, and Donald burst through the gap to touch down and regain the lead for Bath. 16-20.
Agen were not letting the visitors have it all their own way however, Lagarde scoring two more penalties going into the last ten minutes, one of which was a speculative effort from way out that sailed through the posts. 22-20.
With just five minutes left on the clock, Agen lock Damien Lagrange saw yellow after referee Neil Hennessy lost patience with their repeated infringements. A tense closing period began, as Bath tried all they could to force their way back up the pitch and into the red zone.
A lineout inside the Bath half saw the ball quickly passed across the pitch, finding Ben Williams in the middle who broke free of the Agen defence, taking play well into the home half. Donald and Tom Biggs both played their part in edging the attack closer to the line, and as time ticked dead, Francois Louw looked to have scored from short range. Hennessy wanted to make sure though, and referred the decision to the TMO who awarded the try. Donald secured the conversion, and with it Bath's second bonus point win in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Final Score – SU Agen 22 – Bath Rugby 27.