Rhys Priestland scored 17 points as Bath Rugby secured a hard-fought 22-12 victory over Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership at the Recreation Ground.
After his match-winning heroics last week against Northampton Saints, it was Priestland who gave his side an early lead. The Welsh international hoisted a huge up and under, which was chased down excellently by Semesa Rokoduguni. The pressure from the winger was too much for the Harlequins defence, as the visitors conceded a penalty on the edge of the 22. Priestland made no mistake opening the scoring after just three minutes. 3-0
It was a strong showing from the pack in the opening 40 minutes and they were to play their part in the next scoring action of the game. The visitors couldn’t match an impressive shove at the scrum and referee Craig Maxwell-Keys signalled for another penalty, with Priestland opting for the posts. The fly half, who was influential throughout, maintained his 100% start from the tee to extend Bath’s lead with 15 minutes on the clock. 6-0
Harlequins found their way back into the game courtesy of winger Tom Visser. A break from Ruaridh Jackson saw Harlequins break through into the Bath 22. The ball was quickly recycled to the left wing, where Visser managed to evade the best efforts of Bath defence to score the opening try of the game. 6-7
The ever-reliable Priestland ensured that Bath Rugby weren’t behind for long, as the fly half notched his third penalty of the day to send the two teams into the interval closely poised at 9-7.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 9-7 Harlequins
Six minutes into the second half, Harlequins were back over the whitewash, this time through England international Marland Yarde. Hooker Rob Buchanan found himself in space on the right wing, riding the challenge of Harry Davies before offloading to Yarde, who had the simple task of touching down. 9-12
Priestland was once again at the heart of Bath’s next score, as he fooled the Harlequins line to give the Blue, Black and White a platform to build from inside the 22. The forwards ground out a few extra metres, before quick ball from Kahn Fotuali’i gave Max Clark the chance to regain the advantage on the scoreboard after 63 minutes. 16-12
With just four points separating the two sides heading into the last 10 minutes, Priestland gave Bath a bit of breathing space as he maintained his composure to add another penalty to his tally for the afternoon. 19-12
With minutes remaining, Tom Homer showed his skills with the ball in hand as the fullback ran from his own half into Harlequins’ danger zone. The pressure on the opposition defence led to another penalty, with Priestland stepping up to complete Bath’s second-successive victory in the Aviva Premiership.
Final score: Bath Rugby 22-12 Harlequins