Bath Rugby defeated by Northampton Saints

Bath Rugby 6 v Northampton Saints 26

Bath Rugby suffered a 6-26 defeat at the hands of Northampton Saints at the Recreation Ground, with Stephen Donald kicking the only points for the home side.

The visiting side started the game in the ascendancy, with Bath seeing relatively little of the ball in the first quarter. A Bath lineout stolen by Saints' Mark Sorenson saw them set up a good attack, with Paul Diggin bursting through before Lamb chipped the ball ahead. Nick Abendanon, racing back to cover, touched the ball down to save the try, giving Northampton the put in at a scrum five metres out.

After five attempts at a successful scrum, with two re-sets and two penalties against Bath, referee Martin Fox awarded Saints the penalty try. Lamb converted to make it a 0-7 lead.

Northampton continued to control the game, but with Bath's defence standing firm they couldn't break through for another score, despite coming close in the 22nd minute.

Diggin broke away and sprinted 50 metres before being brought down by Matt Carraro in a try saving tackle. The winger had just got the ball away to Christian Day, but the lock was bundled into touch by the combined weight of Matt Banahan, Michael Claassens and Donald, as the three scrambled across in defence.

Saints soon had more points on the board as Bath were penalised for not rolling away from the tackle and Lamb slotted the resulting penalty. 0-10.

As the first half entered the final quarter, Bath began to gain some control of the ball. A lineout secured by Ryan Caldwell allowed Bath to push up the field, and after battling hard they were awarded a penalty. Donald was unable to take advantage however, skewing the ball wide of the posts.

He made amends moments later after a Saints knock-on allowed the fly-half to get Bath's first points on the board with nine minutes left of the half. 3-10.
He doubled the lead soon after, after Simon Taylor had taken the ball in the air to get Bath on the front foot. Donald grubbered through, collected his own kick and set Caldwell off on a barnstorming run, with Carraro in support. The centre couldn't gather the pass though, and play was taken back for the penalty. 6-10.

Lamb regained the six point lead before the half was out, first with a drop goal, and then with a penalty. 6-16.

The start of the second half saw the pace of the game pick up, with Caldwell breaking through once more and securing another penalty, but Donald was unable to find his range.

A flat pass from Donald found Banahan in the centre, and the wing powered through the midfield. He chipped ahead, and with Carraro and Tom Biggs chasing, it looked as if Bath may have crossed the white-wash. However, replays showed the Chris Ashton had knocked the ball forward before either could ground it, and Fox awarded a scrum to Bath. The ball found its way to Donald who crossed the line, but the referee had spotted a knock forward in the build-up and disallowed the try.

A yellow card to Sorenson saw Bath with an extra man for 10 minutes, but they were unable to take advantage as the staunch Saints defence snuffed out any promising attacks, and Donald was unable to secure another three points from a penalty awarded at the scrum.

Lamb continued to kick well however, and he further extended the lead after a break by Abendanon led to the full back being penalised for holding. 6-19. Northampton were maintaining their control of the game, and after Guy Mercer saw yellow for killing the ball, the visitors kicked to the corner. Centre George Pisi put too much on a chip through and play was brought back for an earlier penalty, with Saints again going for touch. From the resulting line-out the forwards set up a strong rolling maul and powered over the line, hooker Andy Long the man getting the ball down. Replacement Stephen Myler converted, and with 15 minutes left Bath were trailing 6-26.

The home side refused to give up as the game drew to a close, battling hard to try and find a way to break down the Saints, but the visiting side couldn't be moved, and the game ended in a disappointing defeat for Bath.

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