Bath Rugby secured a winning bonus-point at the Rec, with a hard-fought 30-13 victory over Newcastle Falcons.
Newcastle dominated the early possession, but it was Bath that got the first points on the board through the boot of Rhys Priestland, who kicked a penalty eight minutes in. [3-0]
Newcastle hit back with three points of their own two minutes later, with Toby Flood slotting a routine effort over the uprights to put his side level on the scoreboard. [3-3]
Bath showed their cutting edge when they got their hands on the ball and we’re rewarded mid-way into the half with the first try of the afternoon. After sustained pressure on the Falcons line, Nathan Catt looked like he'd found his way over from close range. However, the front rower was held up over the line by some dogged defence from the visitors. However, from the resulting set piece, Bath showed quick hands as Priestland and Tom Homer combined to put Semesa Rokoduguni through for his fifth try in two games. [8-3]
With Priestland missing the touchline conversion, Flood put his side to within two points with another penalty four minutes later. [8-6]
Inside the last nine minutes of the half, Bath found their way over the whitewash for a second time to the delight of the 14,331 in attendance at the Rec. Rokoduguni was at the centre of the move, as the winger dazzled his way past several defenders to put Bath on the front foot inside the Falcons 22. The Blue, Black and White switched from right to left before Jonathan Joseph put in a deft grubber kick behind the Falcons defence. Joe Cokanasiga was on hand to provide the finishing touch, as he raced down the wing to ground the ball in spectacular fashion in the corner. [13-6]
There was just enough time for Bath to increase their advantage with a third try of the half. With the half drifting into the final 20 seconds, Bath showed their attacking intent by going for the corner following a Falcons infringement in kicking range. The option paid off, as Bath made in roads with the catch and drive stopping just short of the line. Co-captain Will Chudley peeled off the back and showed all his experience to dart over from close range. Priestland added the extras to send Bath into the interval with a 14-point lead.
Half-time – Bath Rugby 20-6 Newcastle Falcons
With the game drifting away from Falcons, a quick start to the second-half was crucial for Dean Richards’ side. Within 10 minutes of the restart they found themselves with a lifeline courtesy of a try from number eight Nemani Nagusa. It was a well-worked set-piece move, as Falcons used the momentum of a line-out to drive for the line. Bath were unable to stop the rampaging maul and Nagusa crossed to reduce arrears to seven points following Flood’s successful conversion. [20-13]
Falcons were back within touching distance moments later, as they searched for a crucial score. However, they were met with a brick wall of Blue, Black and White as they withstood five minutes of phases on their own line before turning the ball over and clearing from danger.
With 15 minutes to go, Priestland gave his side a bit of breathing space with a penalty, which took the game to two scores difference. [23-13]
Bath got the fourth try they’d been looking for with 73 minutes on the clock. Excellent pressure on the Newcastle defence created the opportunity, with Cokanasiga and Elliott Stooke running hard lines to take Bath to within a metre. Quick distribution from Max Green saw Francois Louw crash over from to secure the bonus-point. Priestland added the extras from the tee. [30-13]
Sinoti Sinoti looked like he’d closed the gap with a try of his own, as he came in off his right wing. However, his spectacular dive was halted by the retreating Cokanasiga, who dislodged the ball from the grasp of the New Zealander.
Bath remained composed in the closing stages to record a bonus-point victory, which takes them up to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership.
Full-time – Bath Rugby 30-13 Newcastle Falcons