Bath Rugby left their comeback too late at the Twickenham Stoop tonight, their exhilarating encounter with Harlequins ending 35-28 in the hosts' favour.
An unfortunate opening five minutes for Bath entailed a penalty and try to the home team: the first as the visitors failed to roll away at the ruck; the second as Quins intercepted inside Bath's half and saw centre Harry Sloan go over for the try (the conversion for which was missed).
Far from being overwhelmed by coughing up a fast eight points, Bath conjured a fabulous move from the scrum, with centres Kyle Eastmond and Matt Banahan leading a charge through a gap in the Quins midfield. Banahan, having surged ahead, passed to wing Horacio Agulla.
The Argentine was brought down painfully shy of the try line, but Bath were then in a position from which Homer was able to kick a simple penalty in front of the posts as Quins infringed at the breakdown. 8-3.
Homer's three-pointer was cancelled out by one of Ben Botica's own shortly after, only for Homer to strike another of his own a minute later when Quins were penalised at the breakdown. 11-6.
Frustratingly for Bath, scrum-half Chris Cook was shown yellow in the 35th minute, as Quins extended their lead to eight points through the boot of Botica. 14-6.
Time was almost up for the first half when Quins wing Charlie Walker cut an unstoppable line, fending off a would-be Bath defender to cross for the try, which Botica converted to end the half.
Half-time: Harlequins 21-6 Bath Rugby
Quins were able to further establish their command of the match within two minutes of the second half, after a wayward Bath pass was snatched up by Walker, who raced away for his second try of the night. Botica converted: 28-6
A bitter blow came in the 45th minute as Quins scored their bonus point try through captain James Horwill after a strong driving maul set the former Wallaby up in a good position to crash over. Botica added the extras: 35-6.
A small consolation for Bath came as the 70th minute approached; a driving maul allowing Amanaki Mafi to dot down in the left corner. Homer was unable to convert from near the left touchline, but Bath had scored their first try of the night.
One try became two minutes later, as Matt Banahan went charging into the Quins half. It took at least two retreating defenders to bring Banahan down, by which point the space had been made for the lightning-quick replacement wing Jeff Williams to run over for a try. Homer converted and Bath were beginning to look like themselves.
Banahan was at the heart of Bath's next score with fewer than seven minutes left, as he made an impressive pass that enabled Semesa Rokoduguni to sidestep his way back inside from his wing and sprint in for the try, which Homer converted. 35-25.
Against all odds, Bath were able to finish the match with a losing bonus point as Homer kicked a last-minute penalty to end the match.
Full-time: Harlequins 35-28 Bath Rugby
11 March 2016
Referee: Dean Richards
Half Time score: 21-6
- Tries: Sloan (3), Walker (39, 41), Horwill (44)
- Conversions: Botica (40, 42, 45)
- Penalties: Botica (2, 12, 35)
- Tries: Mafi (65), Williams (69), Rokoduguni (72)
- Conversions: Homer (70, 73)
- Penalties: Homer (10, 14, 80)