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Bath sunk by London Irish

The weather matched the mood as a chilled and sodden Recreation Ground witnessed Bath Rugby's sixth defeat in nine Guinness Premiership games.
Former Gloucester fly-half Ryan Lamb accounted for all of London Irish's points with a 'full house' - a try, conversion, two penalties and a dropped goal - while the home team barely threatened the visitors' line.

Being beaten scoreless was bad enough but it could have been worse except for a last-ditch tackle on the hour mark by Nicky Little, Matt Banahan and Shontayne Hape, holding up Peter Hewat when the Australian seemed bound to score.

Head coach Steve Meehan, acknowledging the hurt felt by long-suffering supporters, said: "When the team is going through a rough trot we need everybody. It needs the supporters to get behind them and to support them; it needs the staff to pick them up, to keep working with them; and they need each other, to enthuse each other and to drive each other on.

"So obviously we are disappointed with people's reactions and they are disappointed with our performance but as a wider club, and I include the supporters in that, we need to dig deep here."

Reflecting on a defeat that keeps the club in 11th place, Meehan said: "I told the players there's too much talent in this dressing room for people to throw their hands up in the air and walk away.

"I reminded them that we're here to fight through this - and it starts on Monday. But the players are working hard. I don't question their application one bit."

A steady downpour shortly before kick-off quickly left the pitch both slippery and heavy but it was the visitors who adapted more readily.

Lamb was given an opportunity to open the scoring on nine minutes after the impressive Nick Kennedy stormed away from a line-out, forcing a penalty. But the kick was just wide.

While the Exiles were more than content to pursue a pragmatic, even limited, gameplan, Bath opted to work the ball back and forth across the field, searching for an opening.

Ultimately it backfired when Nick Abendanon was left with no option but to attempt a clearance from just outside his 22. Lamb charged down the kick, regathered and scored a simple try after 11 minutes.

After adding the conversion, the 23-year-old fly-half demonstrated his game management skills by pinning the home team in the corner. Bath quickly conceded another penalty but were relieved to see Lamb's kick drift wide of the posts.

Former Bath player Elvis Seveali'i almost opened up the defence with a corkscrew run but Bath won the turnover and skipper Michael Claassens cleared his lines. The pressure was constant, however, and a late tackle gave Lamb the chance to make it 10-nil from 40 metres after 23 minutes.

The home team's best spell came in the 10 minutes before half-time as the pack, getting the upper hand in the scrum, forced their opponents into giving away a string of penalties, but none close enough to the posts.

With England scrum-half Paul Hodgson entering the fray at the break, the Irish recovered their composure and the TMO was called into action when Abendanon and John Rudd contested a loose ball on the Bath line. No try.

Lamb added his second penalty on 54 minutes though to take the score to 13-nil and the TMO correctly denied Hewat a try as Bath defenders scrambled back to stop the winger grounding the ball. The conditions were making life increasingly difficult for Abendanon as the visitors rained kicks on the full-back and he was grateful to his forwards for winning a penalty at a 5-metre scrum after he had been forced to carry the ball behind the try-line.

The visitors were not to be denied however and Lamb rounded off his one-man show on the scoreboard by landing a drop goal on 66 minutes.

A 16-point margin was worth very much more in the conditions, rain which chilled to the bone and a gluepot pitch. So it was not too surprising that the Exiles began to loosen their grip on the game, offering Bath a chance to at least grab a consolation score.

Luke Watson came closest to breaking Bath's duck, rolling off a maul and driving towards the posts. But the ball became trapped under the bodies and referee Dean Richards awarded the put-in to the visitors. Minutes later replacement lock Peter Short barrelled through in midfield and found support from his team-mates only to see the ball go to ground. It was that kind of night.

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