Five of the Bath Rugby contingent were in action over the weekend in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup competition as England were victors over Georgia whilst Wales fell in Dublin with defeat against Ireland.
Taulupe Faletau played his part at No. 8 in his sides hard-fought loss whilst Jonathan Joseph, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels and Tom Dunn were in action as England beat Georgia at Twickenham.
England v Georgia
Eddie Jones’ side were dominant in their opening Quilter International as part of the Autumn Nations Cup, despite no fans being able to spur them on inside the stadium.
In their first Twickenham outing since 7 March it took the hosts 15 minutes to resume normal practice, with Jack Willis muscling over the line. In doing so he became the ninth England forward to score on debut in the professional era. Owen Farrell’s conversion was successful.
Georgia lived up to their physical billing, establishing a comfort with conflict that disrupted England’s unstructured attack throughout the opening quarter, but had little success with ball in hand.
Powerful rolling mauls were the catalysts behind England’s second and third scores; one on the half hour mark and the other three minutes later. Both were scored by Jamie George, and one converted by Farrell for a 19-0 lead.
Then three minutes from half-time, a moment of Jonathan Joseph brilliance saw him glide through the Georgian defence on an outside arc.
He then squared up the final defender and set Elliot Daly up to score England’s fourth. Farrell’s extras made it 26-0 at the break.
That momentum didn’t carry into the early stages of the second half as both sides jostled for territory, but its combative nature continued. As did George’s try-scoring exploits – the hooker dotting down for a third identical try – in doing so he became the first England men’s hooker to score a hat-trick.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, a snipe at the base of a one metre ruck saw replacement scrum-half Dan Robson slide over, and on his 25th Test as England captain, Farrell slotted the conversion taking his personal tally to 10 points.
The win was England's first clean sheet at Twickenham since beating Canada 70-0 in 2004. England have now won 26 of their last 29 home games.
Ireland v Wales
Wales fell to a 32-9 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in the opening round of the Autumn Nations Cup.
Despite falling on the wrong end of the score-line Wayne Pivac’s men showed promising signs of improvement in the second-half.
But Ireland proved too strong with tries from Quinn Roux and James Lowe along with 22 points from the combined boots of Johnny Sexton, Billy Burns and Conor Murray sealing Wales’ fate. Leigh Halfpenny kicked all nine of Wales’ points.
Ireland started strongly with their powerful ball carriers making inroads into the Welsh defence as Sexton booted the hosts into an early lead.
But Halfpenny levelled the scores with a successful penalty after Ireland were penalised at the breakdown. After Rhys Carre conceded a couple of penalties at the breakdown Ireland began to build some serious pressure on the Wales try line.
And after a series of powerful carries from the Ireland forwards Connacht second-row Roux powered his way over from short-range. Sexton and Halfpenny swapped penalties, but Wales struggled to secure any meaningful territory or possession.
British & Irish Lions playmaker Sexton limped off 10 minutes before the interval and his replacement Burns pushed Ireland out to a 10-point lead with three points from the tee.
Wales had a five-metre scrum with Pivac having decided to replace Carre with Wyn Jones and it paid off as the set-piece held firm meaning the visitors turned around 16-6 behind at the interval.
Pivac’s side began the second-half strongly winning a number of penalties at the breakdown as Halfpenny kicked Wales back to within a score of their hosts.
But Wales were fortunate not to fall further behind when Gareth Davies’ clearance kick was charged down by Caelan Doris. The No. 8 flicked the ball back in field to Cian Healey who was denied a try after a magnificent tackle from Taulupe Faletau.
But Ireland lay siege to the Wales try line with Burns extending their lead with a penalty from right in front of the posts after a searing break by Jamieson Gibson-Park.
Burns and Murray extended Ireland’s lead before Leinster wing Lowe smashed his way over the try line on his test debut to seal Wales’ fate.