Bath Rugby finished this afternoon’s Aviva Premiership action top of the table after a bonus point 37-22 win over Worcester Warriors.
In a game that saw the return of Leroy Houston to the Recreation Ground, it was fitting that the Australian Number Eight both scored the bonus point try and was named the Champagne Pol Roger Man of the Match, much to the delight of the Bath supporters.
The opening passages of play were not quite so pleasant for the home crowd however, with Worcester applying early pressure and opening the scoring on 18 minutes with a try from Niall Arnett, converted by Tom Heathcote.
George Ford ensured the scoreboard started ticking for Bath with a penalty just under ten minutes later, but Warriors kept coming, and they were enjoying the lion’s share of both possession and territory in the opening half. Winger Dean Hammond burst his way through the covering tackles on the left to score the visitors’ second try of the afternoon just after the half-hour mark, with Heathcote converting and then adding a further three points to extend the lead to 3-17.
A penalty from Ford on the stroke of half-time clawed back another three points, but the half had belonged to the visitors.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 6 – Worcester Warriors 17
Luckily for Bath, rugby is a game of two halves, and the second forty minutes saw the home side go through the gears and become the free-flowing, try scoring side that had put over 50 points on Newcastle Falcons the week before.
First to cross the whitewash was Anthony Watson, who was on the shoulder of Houston as the forward broke through the defence. The back rower offloaded to Watson, and the England winger sailed over the line between the posts. Ford converted. 13-17.
The set piece was a great battle throughout the game, but Bath very much had the ascendancy in the later stages. A well-worked lineout and drive saw the ball secured and spread wide to Ford, who chipped up and over from five metres out. A group of players were keeping a very watchful eye on the ball as it started to descend, but Bath had the advantage as 6’ 7” Matt Banahan was able to jump highest, gather the ball and ground it for the second try. Ford was again on target for the conversion, and took Bath into the lead for the first time that afternoon, 20-17.
The Jersey giant, deployed at outside centre, played a key role in the next score as he bulldozed his way through the midfield, finding Semesa Rokoduguni in support for the winger to score. Ford had added three points moments before with another penalty, and his was accurate again for the conversion.
Worcester weren’t finished though, scoring a third try with 15 minutes to go through Perry Humphreys, after the cleverly stretched the defence from one side of the pitch to the other.
The biggest cheer of the afternoon almost certainly came when Houston, a true supporters’ favourite at the Rec, found himself in plenty of space to score the fourth try after a quick penalty had pushed the Worcester defence. Ford added the two points to seal the win.
Final score: Bath Rugby 37 – Worcester Warriors 22