It was an impressive return to form for Bath, ending a run of three disappointing defeats in the competition. However, they had to come from behind to secure maximum points. Trailing 16-3late in the first half after Newcastle scored a cracking try from Australian veteran Matt Burke, Connolly's side rallied superbly to score nineteen points without reply as the Bath eight took an iron grip of affairs.
After the match a relieved John Connolly said that he was pleased that his side were off the mark, but dismissed talk that his side were under pressure coming into the game. "I thought we played some pretty good rugby today, as we have done over the past couple of matches," he said. "It is good to get off the mark now and we can enter the Powergen Cup full of confidence."
Coming into the game on the back of three straight defeats, a trip to Newcastle was not exactly the easiest of tasks to surmount to get a Premiership campaign up and running and after thirty minutes of a hard fought encounter it looked pretty unlikely after Newcastle had stretched into a 16-3 lead courtesy of Matt Burke's boot, Dave Walder's drop goal and a wonderful try from Burke after a strong break from England squad member Matthew Tait.
Newcastle, guilty of sitting on their lead, eased off the gas and allowed Bath's forwards to take complete control of the game at the set piece. Bath's driving play in particular was impressive, whilst Martyn Wood had a fabulous game at scrum half, directing affairs from what was increasingly becoming an armchair ride. The introduction of Ryan Davis, on for the injured Andy Dunne, to the Bath midfield also had a significant impact on the game as Bath's backs began increasingly had a say in the match.
Bath's breakthrough came on the stroke of half time. After an impressive driving maul inside the Newcastle twenty-two, Matt Stevens fooled the Newcastle forwards by peeling off the ruck and running ten metres to score in the corner unopposed.
After the interval it was all Bath as the Bath eight battered and bossed Newcastle into submission. With defenders being sucked in all over the park to attempt to stem the white tide that was the Bath driving maul, the likes of Davis and Olly Barkley were able to find overlaps all over the park and after a period of sustained pressure near the Newcastle line, Martyn Wod darted over for a try which was converted by Barkley.
Newcastle, pegged inside their own twenty-two for most of the half, had no response as they could obtain no clean possession. Bath, on the other hand, had plenty and after a catch and drive near the Newcastle line, Zak Feaunati was driven over for a score which was converted by Barkley.
Ten minutes from time Bath secured the bonus point after a wonderful piece of play which involved the impressive David Bory and Zak Feaunati was finished off by flanker James Scaysbrook, who slid in at the corner flag.
Newcastle rallied late in the game as they went in search of a bonus point, but Bath's defence held firm to secure a valuable Guinness Premiership victory.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Burke, 14 Elliot, 13 Noon, 12 Mayerhofler, 11 Tait, 10 Walder, 9 Charlton, 1 Ward, 2 Long, 3 Morris, 4 Perry, 5 Parling,6 Finegan, 7 Harris, 8 Charvis (capt)
16 Wilson, 17 Thompson, 18 Paoletti, 19 McCarthy, 20 Woods, 21 Grindal, 22 Flood.
Bath Rugby:15 Perry, 14 Bory, 13 Cheeseman, 12 Barkley (1p, 2c), 11 Higgins, 10 Dunne (Davis), 9 Wood (1t), 1 Barnes (Bell), 2 Mears, 3 Stevens (1t), 4 Borthwick (capt), 5 Grewcock, 6 Beattie, 7 Scaysbrook (1t), 8 Feaunati (1t)
Reps: 16 Dixon, 17 Bell, 18 Delve, 19 Hudson, 20 Walshe, 21 Finau, 22 Davis
Ref: Ashley Rowden
Cards: Harris (yellow)