Bath Rugby scored three second-half tries to secure a 21-8 victory over Newcastle Falcons, to maintain their unbeaten record in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
It was a strong start from the visitors as they piled on the pressure in the opening 10 minutes. Despite four quick-fire penalties, the resolute Bath defence ensured the visitors were unable to make the territory count.
Juan Pablo Socino came within a metre of opening the scoring before he was hauled down short of the line, before Bath applied some force of their own in the oppositions' 22.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the half, Ally Hogg looked like he had given his side the lead, but the former Scottish international was adjudged to have been held in the tackle before reaching for the line and the score ruled out.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 0-0 Newcastle Falcons.
The game burst into life 10 minutes into the second-half when Paul Grant scored the opening try of the game. Bath attacked the the Falcons' line and the Kiwi number eight found himself under a pile of bodies, burrowing over from close range. Freddie Burns, the leading points scorer in the history of the competition, added the extras to take his overall tally to 211 points. 7-0.
Three minutes later, Joel Hodgson notched a penalty from mid-way inside the Bath half to put his side to within four points on the scoreboard. 7-3
With just over 15 minutes to go, Bath increased their lead with an excellent counter-attacking move. Burns released Darren Atkins on his own 10m line and the young fullback went beyond halfway before sending the impressive Josh Bayliss through the gap. Bath used quick ball from the resulting ruck and Matt Banahan powered his way into the 22, with the winger finding Nathan Charles with a clever offload to release the replacement hooker over to score. Burns was on target with the conversion to take the score to 14-3.
Falcons weren’t giving up without a fight, and their patience was rewarded with a try of their own. Loose ball from a Bath scrum set the Falcons going forward, and Adam Radwan seized the opportunity, sprinting down the right wing and then flinging the ball inside to Craig Willis, who had a simple run-in. 14-8.
With the clock ticking down, and Bath in the ascendancy, Man of the Match Burns showed his experience to put the game beyond doubt. Inside the Falcons 22, the fly-half spotted the space out wide and put a pinpoint kick into the grateful hands of replacement Jack Wilson, who touched down in the corner. Burns converted. 21-8.
The hosts closed out the final few minutes, with big contributions made by replacements Miles Reid and Will Britton, who excelled on their first team debuts for the Club.
Bath travel to Ospreys next Friday looking to secure their place in the final four of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Final score: Bath Rugby 21-8 Newcastle Falcons
27 January 2018
Referee: Mike English
Half Time score: 0-0
- Tries: Grant (50), Charles (63), Wilson (76)
- Conversions: Burns (51, 64, 76)
- Tries: Willis (66)
- Penalties: Hodgson (54)