17 points from the boot of Man of the Match Freddie Burns and a try a-piece for Matt Banahan, Nick Auterac and Ross Batty powered Bath Rugby to a 32-9 victory over Northampton Saints at the Rec.
It was the visitors who got the first points on the board, Piers Francis taking his side to a six point lead with two penalties in the opening quarter. 0-6.
But then Bath fought back, and their first meaningful attack of the game – spurred on by the abrasive Will Hurrell – saw Freddie Burns notch the home side’s first three points of the game from the tee. The fly-half added a further three on the half-hour to draw the sides level after another powerful attack forced Saints to infringe. 6-6.
The home side were in the ascendancy and a third penalty from Burns gave Bath the lead with three minutes left to play of the half.
With half-time looming, the hosts took control of the game when Saints spilled the ball. Ben Tapuai pounced, hacking the ball ahead. Banahan was on hand to gather, and the winger wrong-footed the defending Ben Foden to go round him and score in the corner. Burns was on target with the touchline conversion.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 16 – Northampton Saints 6.
The ten-point lead was one Bath never relinquished. James Phillips bulldozed his way towards the line but was held up, before Burns added his fourth penalty of the night.
Francis responded for the visitors, but Burns was quick to cancel out the three points and restore his side’s 13-point advantage. 22-9.
Bath continued to push hard on the Saints defence - James Wilson and Aled Brew linking up well to threaten down the left wing on numerous occasions, with the former Saint looking particularly dangerous on the ball.
The sustained pressure finally told with ten minutes left to play. Another dominant scrum from the pack saw the ball quickly worked out to Wilson, and whilst the fullback was stopped in his tracks, the ball was recycled and worked through the hands, stretching the Northampton defence. A clever offload from Charlie Ewels found Burns, who spotted the on-rushing Auterac in acres of space and the replacement strolled over the line and score. 27-9.
The home side kept their foot on the throttle, and with three minutes left on the clock, they got their third try. Tapuai offloaded to replacement Josh Lewis, who cut a scything line through the defence. The fly-half was stopped short of the line, but the ball was quickly worked out to Batty for the hooker to score and round off the victory.
Final score: Bath Rugby 32 – Northampton Saints 9.