Bath Rugby’s spirit and determination was on show on Saturday in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership, but league champions Harlequins eventually breached the Blue, Black and White’s resilience to win 31-17 at The Stoop.
In full flow against a side full of confidence, Bath threatened consistently in the first half but found themselves behind as Quins centre Andre Esterhuizen scored two tries – one in each corner.
Tom de Glanville, Ruaridh McConnochie, Beno Obano and Sam Underhill carried the ball extremely well to move Bath in behind the Harlequins defence and when de Glanville was upended illegally by a Joe Marler tackle, the loosehead prop was sin binned and Bath took advantage.
Hooker Jacques du Toit’s line-out throw was pinpoint to the back pod and the pack rumbled on to help Underhill dive over the try line for five points. Orlando Bailey successfully kicked the conversion to add to his earlier penalty.
Soon after, Bath crossed again. Underhill was involved making a barnstorming run and he was backed up by debutant Richard de Carpentier. When he was brought down a couple of metres out from the line, Joe Simpson – another playing for the club for the first time – swooped in to pass quickly to Will Stuart and he powered home. Bailey’s conversion made the score 17-12 to Bath at half-time.
In the second half, Harlequins scored early on as British & Irish Lion Marcus Smith sprinted over the try line on an arced run. Bath almost replied via a field-length effort; captain Charlie Ewels dived on a loose ball to turnover and the ball was swept to Max Clark who combined with Semesa Rokoduguni.
De Carpentier galloped on in support and as he approached Quins full-back Tyrone Green, he fed Ollie Fox but Green read the situation well to tackle the scrum-half into touch.
Harlequins kept possession well for the rest of the half but were pressurised by a stern Bath defence. They broke the visitors’ resolve in the closing stages as England centre Joe Marchant scored twice to confirm a home win.