Bath Rugby top Amlin Challenge Cup group with win over Dragons

Bath Rugby ensured their winning start to their European campaign continued with a determined 26-10 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at the Rec this afternoon.

The win sees them finish the first two rounds at the top of Pool Two in the Amlin Challenge Cup, three points clear of today’s opponents.

The home side started brightly, but Tom Heathcote’s early shot at goal skewed just wide of the posts from a difficult angle.

The miss didn’t deter Bath though, and they kept up the pressure in the Newport half and after some patient build-up and quick passing along the back line, Academy winger Richard Lane found himself in plenty of space to gallop over the line unopposed. Heathcote was on target with the conversion taking the score to 7-0 after seven minutes.

Newport weren’t lying down however, and hit back soon after with a try of their own, number 8 Toby Faletau showing some great pace to out run Lane and touchdown. Newport fly-half Jason Tovey on target with his first attempt at goal to level the scores.

The Bath scrum was proving an effective weapon and after some great work by the forwards, Bath were awarded the scrum penalty against the head. Heathcote made no mistake with the resulting penalty to nudge his team back in front. 10-7.

As Bath were looking to take control of the game, the Rec faithful were greeted with a torrential rain shower and both sides were guilty of handling errors. Newport were on the front foot though, and Tovey added another three points to level the scores. The last action of the half saw the Newport fly-half miss his third attempt, sending his effort wide of the posts, to leave the scores level at half-time.

Half-time: Bath Rugby 10 - Newport Gwent Dragons 10.

The teams emerged to bright sunshine for the second-half, and it was Bath who again started the brighter of the two sides. Heathcote soon had a shot at goal to swing the momentum back in Bath’s favour, the young fly-half making no mistake from the tee to take the score to 13-10.

Dragons showed they were not giving up on the game and a good counter-attack saw them camped on the Bath 5m line but some great defensive work saw the home side out of danger, and a counter-attack of their own set up by Matt Banahan and the returning Nick Abendanon.

The ever physical Bath scrum continued to cause problems for the visitors and Heathcote landed yet another shot at the sticks to put some distance between the two teams when the Dragons were pinged once more at set-piece time. 16-10.

Newport then found themselves a man down after flanker Lewis Evans was sin-binned for a professional foul on Fearns. Heathcote again elected to kick at goal and his attempt was on target to keep the score board ticking over. 19-10.

Minutes later, Bath extended the lead further, as a huge driving maul trundled towards the line and replacement flanker Mat Gilbert bundled over for Bath’s second try of the afternoon. Heathcote proved his kicking boots were firmly on, as he sent the touchline conversion sailing between the posts. 26-10.

Bath finished the game on a high, with replacement Jonathan Joseph attacking down the right hand wing, but as a tackle forced him to knock-on, referee Giuseppe Vivarini signalled the end of the game and a good win for the home side against a strong Dragons outfit.

Final score: Bath Rugby 26 - Newport Gwent Dragons 10.

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