A youthful Bath Rugby side fought back against all odds at the Stoop to defeat Harlequins with a last-gasp penalty to win 21-23 and top their pool in the LV= Cup.
Scrum-half Will Homer, on his senior debut for Bath, registered the first points of the match immediately after kick-off, with Quins penalised at the scrum after a knock-on in their 22. 0-3.
Less than two minutes later, a Max Clark offload to centre partner Matt Banahan allowed the England international to score under the posts. Homer converted to give Bath a healthy 0-10 lead.
Bath were unlucky on several occasions in the first quarter not to be awarded penalties for their dominance at the scrum. It would cost them their 10-point lead as a questionable Quins penalty at the scrum eventually led to wing Tom Williams scoring in the corner. Former All Black fly-half Nick Evans made a difficult conversion look effortless to reduce the gap: 7-10.
Evans soon slotted a penalty to even the scores. Quins took the lead with seven minutes left in the first half; a quick tap penalty and an even quicker dive over the try line by wing Charlie Walker giving the home team the lead for the first time. Evans's conversion attempt bounced off the upright. 15-10.
Homer countered the Quins try with a penalty three minutes from time to narrow the gap between the two teams.
Half time: Harlequins 15-13 Bath Rugby
Harlequins were back on the scoreboard through the boot of Evans within two minutes of the second half, following a high tackle from the visitors. 18-13.
With 20 minutes remaining, Evans struck another penalty - this one in front of the Bath posts - to make it 21-13.
As for Bath's clear dominance at the scrum throughout the match, there was only delayed gratification as the referee awarded them a penalty try in the 69th minute after repeatedly subduing the Quins pack. Homer's conversion ensured there was now only a point in it. 21-20.
Bath's winning moment ironically came when the home side had all the momentum behind them. Surging into the Bath 22, Quins were foiled by a Banahan intercept, which saw him shoot upfield. The centre offloaded to Olly Woodburn who then found Alafoti Fa'osiliva in the Quins 22, and while Bath supporters were dreaming of a try for the Club, they got the next best thing: a penalty in front of the posts with two minutes of time left.
Jennings had the dubious honour, on debut no less, of taking the kick in front of the posts that would give Bath the lead, surrounded by a deafening din of jeers from the home crowd. As it was, he struck it nervelessly and Bath calmly retained possession as the clock wound down before kicking the ball to touch to end the match.
Full time: Harlequins 21-23 Bath Rugby
31 January 2015
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Half Time score: 15-13
- Tries: Williams (23), Walker (32)
- Conversions: Evans (24)
- Penalties: Evans (28, 42, 59)
- Tries: Banahan (3)
- Conversions: Homer (4, 68)
- Penalties: Homer (1, 36), Jennings (78)