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Comeback kid Best earns victory for Bath Rugby

Bath were trailing the Falcons 13-18 when the full back, who entered the fray in the second half, latched onto a Alex Crockett's pass from a incisive break to score a dramatic try in the corner, whilst Chris Malone struck over the difficult conversion to secure all four points for the West Country side.
The fact that the game ended in such dramatic style will probably baffle Brian Ashton, the Bath head coach, who watched his side build a 13-3 lead early in the second half in a game that they appeared to be in complete control of. However, the Lancastrian was pleased with the character displayed by his charges in coming back from a 73rd minute Anthony Elliott try which silenced the capacity 10,600 crowd at the Rec.

"I am delighted that we won and delighted with the way that we scored the try at the end," said Ashton. "We showed a great deal of character to fight back."

After a bright start, the home side built an attack inside the Newcastle half and Salesi Finau came off his wing to cut a beautiful angle off Joe Maddock's pass to score under the posts. Chris Malone added the extras.

Thereafter the game opened up into an exciting affair with both sides looking to play positive rugby. Whilst Bath pressed, Newcastle had chances of their own and it took some monumental tackling by the 'Tongan Tank' Salesi Finau to keep the visitors at rams reach.

Malone extended the lead with a routine penalty, but Newcastle should have scored their first try when Tom May made a lovely beak. However, the centre's pass to openside Ben Woods went to ground and the move was snuffed out. Newcastle did finally get on the scoreboard when Burke converted a penalty opportunity after Bath were caught offside at a ruck.

Bath started the second half as they had done the first with sweeping attacking play stretching Newcastle's defence. Malone added a second penalty to extend the lead and Bath should have gone further ahead when Peter Short crashed over the line only for referee Martin Fox to pull Bath back for a forward pass.

Nick Walshe's sin-binning early in the second half threatened to stem Bath's attacking flair, but the home side showed great guile in attack as Newcastle found it extremely difficult to get their hands on the ball. On the one occasion when the Falcons had possession they scored a wonderful try through left winger Ollie Phillips and suddenly they were back in the game.

Bath needed to get a little composure back into their game, but it was Newcastle who were looking the more confident with the ball in their hands, A second attack inside the Bath twenty-two resulted in a well taken try by winger Anthony Elliott.

The score jolted Bath back into life and a series of incisive attacks took the home side back into dangerous territory. A lineout five metres out was pilfered by Falcons second row Geoff Parling, but the home side continued to attack and after a quick move replacement Lee Best crashed over in the corner to level the scores.

4 mins: Finau try, Malone con 7-0
19 mins: Malone con 10-0
23 mins: Burke pen 10-3
44 mins: Malone pen 13-3
52 mins: Burke pen 13-6
60 mins: Phillips try, Burke con 13-13
73 mins: Elliott try 13-18
77 mins: Best try, Malone con 20-18

Bath Rugby: 15 Perry, 14 Higgins (Best, 48-49) , 13 Crockett, 12 Maddock, 11 Finau (1t) (Best 58 1t), 10 Malone (2p,2c), 9 Walshe, 1 Flatman, 2 Dixon, 3 Bell, 4 Hudson, 5 Short, 6 Beattie, 7 Scaysbrook (Delve), 8 Feaunati (Fidler)(captain).

16 Hawkins, 17 Loader, 18 Loader, 19 Fidler, 20 Williams, 21 Dunne, 22 Best

Newcastle Falcons:15 Burke (2p, 1c), 14 Phillips (1t), 13 May, 12 Mayerhofler, 11 Phillips, 10 Grindal, 1 Ward, 2 Long , 3 Morris, 4 Perry, 5 Parling, 6 Finegan, 7 Woods, 8 Buist

16 Williams, 17 Thompson, 18 Grimes, 19 Harris, 20 McCarthy, 21 Charlton, 22 Shaw.

Ref: Martin Fox
Cards: Walshe, 52
Att: 10,600

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