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Halloween heartbreak for Bath Rugby against Harlequins

Despite a strong finish, the free-running Harlequins and a high penalty count saw Bath Rugby lose 28-38 in Round 3 of the Aviva Premiership.

Bath thought they were over for a try when Kyle Eastmond latched onto a fumbled ball at Quins' lineout in the third minute, only for play to be brought back for a knock-on by the home team. 

Instead it was to be Quins who drew first blood with a Nick Evans penalty six minutes in, as Bath were found guilty of not rolling away at the ruck. 0-3.

Soon it was 3-3 after Bath enjoyed successive penalties in the process of breaching their opponents' 22 - George Ford doing the honours. Evans negated that with a penalty of his own in the 17th minute after a frustrating series of re-set scrums in front of the Bath posts. 3-6. 

Bath had been threatening a breakthrough on several occasions in the first half (with forwards Max Lahiff, Leroy Houston and Guy Mercer particularly devastating with the ball in hand), but it finally came near the half-hour mark as Ollie Devoto fired a miss-pass to centre partner Kyle Eastmond on the wing for the try. 

Ford's touchline conversion was the icing on the cake for that first score, which came on the back of a bludgeoning run by Rob Webber, and gave Bath the lead for the first time in the match. 10-9.

Quins caught Bath napping straight after restart, as powerful wings Tim Visser and Marland Yarde combined to haul play up to Bath's 22. Mercer made what was likely a try-saving tackle on Yarde, only for Bath to be penalised soon thereafter. Evans's kick regained the lead for Quins, but it was the home team who went into the half-time break in front with a Ford penalty two minutes from the whistle.

Half Time: Bath Rugby 13-12 Harlequins 

A less than ideal start to Bath's second half saw Quins kick a successful penalty (Evans again) and score a converted try within the first five minutes of play. 

The try came through an unfortunate bounce for the Bath defence, although it was fortunate for the kicker, scrum-half Danny Care, who regathered the ball and scrambled over for the try. Evans converted to make it 13-22. 

Bath's problems were compounded by Quins' next visit to the home half, as Evans kicked another penalty. 13-25. 

Despite Semesa Rokoduguni's try-saving tackle on Mike Brown, Evans stretched Quins' lead further in that 54th minute after another penalty. 13-28. 

The home team were finally given some reprieve as the referee awarded them a penalty three minutes later, Ford making it 16-28 from in front of the posts. 

Those three points offered little succour to Bath, though, as no sooner were they on the board than Evans struck another penalty in front of the home posts to make it a 15-point game once again. 16-31.

Bath couldn't find the break they needed and were being mercilessly punished by the referee's whistle. When Eastmond was sent to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle with barely 10 minutes remaining, Quins used their numerical advantage to see through another try, this time through replacement hooker Dave Ward. Evans made light work of the conversion. 16-38. 

The home team somehow found the wherewithal to work their way back up the field unpenalised, where from a lineout in Quins' 22 they formed a strong driving maul. Replacement loosehead Nick Auterac scored the try on 75 minutes, whilst Ford's kick was unlucky to bounce off the upright. 21-38. 

Unbowed, Bath sought a strong finish to the game, and were duly rewarded when Ford put in a crisp pass to Rokoduguni, the winger making an inch of space look like an acre as he crossed for the try. 

Ford finished what had been a tough afternoon for Bath with an excellent touchline conversion.

Full Time: Bath Rugby 28-38 Harlequins 

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