A sell-out crowd at the Rec was kept enthralled until the final minute as Bath Rugby overcame a never-say-die Worcester Warriors 32-20.
Worcester looked dangerous from the outset, with wing Josh Drauniniu threatening to break loose from the opening whistle. In the 10th minute, Drauniniu made good on those threats when he sidestepped through the defence in Bath's 22 to score the first try of the match. Lamb missed with the conversion. 0-5.
A penalty to Bath inside their own half saw George Ford put in a tremendously accurate kick to touch after 20 minutes of play, giving the home side a lineout only metres from the Worcester line. Bath won the ball and recycled it quickly, and following two phases from the forwards, Micky Young ghosted through to get Bath back in the game. The simple conversion was made by Ford, and Bath now had a slender two-point lead. 5-7.
Four minutes had gone by when solid work from Stuart Hooper and Matt Garvey set Ford on a run into the Worcester 22, where the fly-half threw a basketball pass to Horacio Agulla, who cut back inside to score Bath's second try. Ford converted to take his team nine points clear. 14-5.
Warriors openside Sam Betty was yellow-carded three minutes from time for taking out Agulla in the air. Bath capitalized on Worcester's loss, with their best phase of attack coming in the 40th minute. Matt Banahan was hauled down two feet from the Worcester line. As the ball was sent out wide, Ford received it in front of the posts. He feigned to pass back inside to the left, flummoxing the defence sufficiently to allow Nick Abendanon on the right to carve a line through to score. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Bath had struck a telling blow at a vital juncture.
Half time: Bath Rugby 19 – Worcester Warriors 5
Inside ten minutes of the second half, a relentless showing at the scrum by Bath earned the home side a penalty shot at goal, which Ford struck well from inside the Worcester 10m to notch up a further three points. 22-5.
Shortly after the hour, Warriors were themselves able to profit from an opposition player's sin-binning. With Ford shown a yellow card for a reckless tackle, Worcester were in prime position with a scrum on Bath's 5m and when the ball was shipped out it took little time for inside centre Andy Symons to score a short-range effort. Fullback Chris Pennell converted. 22-12.
Bath's lead was further reduced when, with 18 minutes left to play, they were penalized for a side entry at the ruck. Pennell stepped up to kick the three points. 22-15. Gavin Henson, on for Ford, soon cancelled out Pennell's effort when Worcester were penalised in front of their posts. 25-15.
Worcester struck back instantly with aplomb, attacking upfield and creating the space for Pennell to score down the left wing. He failed to convert his own try, but nonetheless, they now trailed Bath by only five points and a Warriors comeback seemed well and truly on. 25-20.
In fact, it appeared to be all Worcester until the 77th minute, when Matt Banahan scored after a patient build-up from Bath's forwards. The try and subsequent conversion from Ford served to ease the nerve-wracked home crowd and gave Bath a crucial try bonus point. 32-20.
Full time: Bath Rugby 32 – Worcester Warriors 20