Bath Rugby keep LV= Cup hopes alive

Bath Rugby made it four wins from five matches so far in 2011 as an Aaron Jarvis try and two Olly Barkley penalties delivered an 11-6 LV= Cup victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Bath needed to win at a bitterly cold Rec to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive ahead of Friday's trip to Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers - and they did just that after fighting back from 6-0 down.

The game was low on genuine try-scoring opportunities as Newcastle's defence prevented Bath from establishing any kind of attacking rhythm throughout. But the home side managed to get the breakthroughs they needed at key times in order to shade the contest.

Head Coach, Steve Meehan, said: "Winning is a habit and that's four from five for us in the New Year - and we're enjoying that. The way we're trying to play and what we're trying to achieve is a lot clearer in everybody's mind - and as a result you tend to take the field confidently and wanting to play.

"There are areas of our game that have to improve but you keep working - but it's great to be able to work off the back of a win. All in all, we feel as if we're heading in the right direction and opening up the game in different ways."

Bath fell behind in the third minute, when, after Nick Abendanon's attempted clearance had been charged down, team-mate Ben Williams held Tane Tu'ipulotu back as he prepared to break. Jimmy Gopperth nailed the resulting penalty to put his side 3-0 in front.

Barkley was narrowly off-target with a penalty from the right flank, before, on 20 minutes, Gopperth doubled Newcastle's lead with his second penalty of the afternoon after Bath were penalised for handling at a ruck.

The game was held up for more than five minutes while the injured Josh Ovens received treatment on the field, before Gopperth failed to make it 9-0 as a long-range penalty fell short of the posts.

Ovens' exit saw Luke Watson enter the fray - and his arrival had an almost instant impact on the team's attacking outlook. The hosts grabbed the game's only try shortly after the half-hour mark, kicking a penalty to touch and going close off a couple of phases near the line, before Aaron Jarvis barged his way over with the tightest of margins to spare before being nudged into touch.

Meehan conceded that, in a televised game, the television match official would have been called into action - but the try stood and Bath were firmly back in the contest.

"As he was being taken into touch, he got his right hand out with the ball and put it right in the corner," said Meehan. "He was aware enough to have a good go at it - and if it was a televised game it would have gone to the television official, for sure. But the assistant referee was there."

Barkley hit the post with the tight conversion, before Jarvis was forced off with a suspected shoulder injury following a scrum, allowing 20-year-old Academy prospect Kane Palma-Newport to make his senior debut from the bench.

Bath enjoyed the majority of possession after the break but were unable to add another try, even when Newcastle were briefly reduced to 14 men following Euan Murray's yellow-card for a cynical offside offence.

Barkley missed a third successive shot at the sticks, before finally finding his range on 68 minutes to give Bath the lead for the first time in the match after a ruck infringement from the visitors.

The one genuine moment of attacking class in the whole game arrived in the 74th minute when Abendanon brilliantly sent Jacques Boussuge away down the right, only for the French winger to be stopped just short of the line.

Bath did manage a further score, however, when Newcastle wheeled a scrum, allowing Barkley to slot a second penalty from 25 metres to seal the 11-6 scoreline.

Today's Match Sponsor was Bath Spa Dentistry

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