Bath Rugby downed at the Stoop

Despite a dogged second half performance Bath Rugby were unable to overcome a resilient Harlequins side at the Stoop tonight, falling to a 21-12 defeat.

It was a night for fly-halves, with all the points coming from the boot.

Ben Botica gave Quins their nine point lead going in at half-time, and whilst efforts from Stephen Donald and Tom Heathcote saw the visitors come to within three points, Quins replacement Louis Grimboldby was as accurate as Botica and drew the game away from Bath in the closing stages.

Botica gave Quins the lead within a minute after Bath were judged to have crossed, and he doubled it three minutes later when the visitors were guilty of not rolling away. A third penalty on the 15 minute mark came at the scrum, and Botica was once again on target.

Bath got their first points on the board the next minute, Donald scoring his first penalty after Quins were off their feet. 9-3.

Bath had seen little of the ball in the opening stages and Botica slotted his fourth penalty as the 20 minute mark approached. The visitors went on their first real foray into the Quins half shortly after, but were met with stubborn Quins defence.

Repeated infringements at the scrum saw Anthony Perenise yellow-carded, but Bath were next to score as Quins were offside following a lineout. Donald converted the resulting penalty. The decrease in the deficit was soon overturned though as Botica landed his fifth in a row.

The run-up to half-time saw Bath in the ascendancy, after some patient build up saw them edge closer to the red zone. Charlie Beech bulldozed his way over on the stroke of half-time, but his effort was ruled to be held up.

Half-time score 15-6.

Bath came out in the second-half keen to pick up where they had left off, patiently working through the phases to put pressure on the home side. Some probing runs from Olly Woodburn and Ryan Caldwell saw Bath edge closer to the try-line and whilst the move broke down, the referee brought play back for an earlier Quins infringement, giving Donald the opportunity to record his third penalty of the match, reducing the gap to six points. 15-9.

Bath continued to apply the pressure but were unable to find a way to breakdown the robust Quins defence. Heathcote, having replaced Donald on the 58th minute, drew the visitors within three points with just over 15 minutes remaining, but it was to be Bath's last score of the game as the home side forced their way back into it.

Replacement Brett Sharman was sent to the sin-bin for Bath, giving Grimboldby the chance to give Quins a six point buffer, and he restored the nine point lead the home side had established  by half-time seven minutes from time.

Bath fought hard in the closing stages looking for some sort of consolation but the stern defence that had prevented them crossing the whitewash all game was still in place, and the game ended 21-12.

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