Bath Rugby were spurred on by a raucous home crowd, as they scored three times on their way to victory with a dominant forward display over Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.
It was a cold and wet start to the Saturday afternoon clash which saw Bath Rugby’s Will Chudley cross the whitewash after going eight points down, but with an added Priestland penalty the hosts were up at half-time.
A dominant second period from the Blue, Black and White allowed Will Stuart and Zach Mercer to score during a rampant second period at the Rec.
Northampton began their Premiership campaign with three straight victories, and the visitors oozed confidence as they looked to continue their form. Chris Boyd’s men started well and replicated their pressure game as they opened the scoring in the first minute of the game.
Rory Hutchinson the beneficiary after charging down Priestlands kick which allowed Northampton a dream start. James Grayson’s effort at the posts was edged left of the target. [0-5]
Eight minutes later Bath were penalised for holding on and this time Grayson managed to add the points for his side. Off the top of the laces he guided the ball through the centre of the sticks giving Saints an eight-point lead with just nine minutes on the clock. [0-8]
The conditions dictated how the game was being played, a wet surface meant that play remained narrow and the set piece took dominance during the first-half. Bath however remained solid in their platform and continued to use it to apply pressure on Saints.
Following Semese Rokoduguni’s early departure in the game, Gabriel Hamer-Webb shone against a side that were undefeated with a tough task of keeping Taqele Nayaravoro at bay, to which the 18-year-old succeeded.
With just over half of the first forty minutes passed, the hosts won their scrum and were strong in the resulting drive. Some quick ball from Max Wright, Aled Brew and Will Chudley created space for Rhys Priestland and Tom Ellis to gain solid ground. Bath recycled the ball to Chudley and the scrum-half worked his magic following his instrumental involvement in the first break. He was rewarded with a solo try just to the left of the posts. Priestland added the extras allowing Bath to get back into the mix on the scoreboard. [7-8]
A further ten minutes passed before any more points were collected. A penalty was awarded to Bath after Saints’ Ben Franks made a no arms tackle. Priestland pointed for the posts and claimed two for his team meaning the Blue, Black and White took the lead for the first time with 31 minutes on the clock. [10-8]
The stats were even on all counts from possession and the penalty count to the 100% record on the set piece. Bath however, were on top as the teams went in for half-time.
Half-time – Bath Rugby 10-8 Northampton Saints
Bath began the second-half keeping the ball in possession which allowed the hosts to keep the pressure going forward in the scrum. However the sides efforts were cut short as Aled Brew was shown the red card for a dangerous tackle.
Bath responded with great character and just minutes after going down to fourteen men Will Stuart crashed over the whitewash. Saints had given away two penalties and Bath were ruthless in their attack. The hosts had a scrum five meters out and used the maul to drive over the line with 50 minutes on the clock. [15-8]
Ten minutes later Saints responded as they collected another score. It looked like Tom Wood was held up, but referee Ian Tempest went to the TMO who adjudged that there was no reason not to award the score. The battle at the Rec remained close as Saints nudged the scores to within two at 60 minutes. [15-13]
Heading into the final quarter, Saints were put under immense pressure as the Bath forwards dominated eight scrums in a row. The hosts were uncompromising and delivered an outstanding platform and possibly the most important play of the game. Saints were down to 13-men following a yellow card for Ben Franks. Just moments later the crowd erupted with a standing ovation with Saints being given a warning as Paul Hill was given a yellow, with Northampton down to 13-men.
With less than ten minutes remaining Mercer peeled off the back of the scrum and darted over to score under the posts. Priestland added the much-needed extras. [22-13]
Bath kept to their systems well to bring Saints down. The belief was there as the squad played for each other and the supporters in the final minute to bring home an outstanding win at the Rec.
Full-time – Bath Rugby 22-13 Northampton Saints
Bath Rugby switch their attention to the Heineken Champions Cup next weekend with Ulster Rugby the visitors in round one.
8. Zach Mercer, 7. Josh Bayliss, 6. Tom Ellis, 5. Charlie Ewels (C), 4. Josh McNally, 3. Will Stuart, 2. Tom Dunn, 1. Beno Obano; 9. Will Chudley, 10. Rhys Priestland, 11. Aled Brew, 12. Jamie Roberts, 13. Max Wright, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 15. Freddie Burns
16. Jack Walker, 17. Lewis Boyce, 18. Christian Judge, 19. Elliott Stooke, 20. Mike Williams, 21. Chris Cook, 22. Jackson Willison, 23. Gabe Hamer-Webb
9 November 2019
Referee: Ian Tempest
Half Time score: 10-8
- Tries: Chudley (16), Stuart (50), Mercer (70)
- Conversions: Priestland (17, 71)
- Penalties: Priestland (31)
- Tries: Hutchinson (1), Wood (59)
- Penalties: Grayson (8)