Bath United made it two wins on the bounce as they overcame a tough London Irish A challenge at Hazelwood to came away with deserved 22-14 win on Sunday evening.
United made their intentions clear from the kick off, with their forwards making early inroads into Irish territory, earning penalty after penalty in a physical opening 5 minutes. Ross Batty, making his first start in Bath colours after returning from injury, was the man to open the scoring, he would go on to score two more tries as the blue, black and white earned a crucial victory in round 4 of the Premiership Shield.
Despite relentless attacks from London Irish A and a never say die attitude, Bath withstood a second half of green attacks to come away with a deserved victory.
It was Bath who were on scoreboard first. Having dominated possession early on, the forwards battered at the Irish line and after some slick hands at the back of the ruck Ross Batty barreled over for the first of his tries in the seventh minute.
Alex Davies was on target with his conversion from wide out to give Bath United the perfect start. [0-7]
London Irish A were in no mood to roll over on their home patch, after ten minutes some gorgeous soft hands and a barnstorming break through the Bath backline, allowed Irish to unpick the lock, Number 8, Isaac Curtis-Harris was on hand to surge over the line to close the gap and just like that Irish were in the game.
Jacob Atkins made no mistake from the tee to level the scores from in front of the posts. [7-7]
The home side had their tails up after their first score, in the 13th minute continued pressure forced Bath into a turnover 7 metres from their own line, knocking on to hand Irish a scrum in crucial field position. From the resulting scrum, Irish continued to drive forward, with forwards and backs combining to good effect to keep Bath guessing.
The pressure at this point was starting to tell and finally, prop Luke Green was able to find some space to bustle over to give Irish the lead for the first time in the game. Jacob Atkins adding the extras with minimum fuss. [14-7]
The next ten mins saw the both teams go toe to with territory being keenly fought for, Bath were starting to pose more questions than Irish at this stage and once again the Bath forwards were starting to exert pressure.
After forcing a penalty at the breakdown, Bath kicked for touch and from the subsequent lineout, that man, Ross Batty was there again to score Bath’s second try to close the gap. Alex Davies, really had his kicking boots on and nailed the conversion from a difficult angle to level the scores. [14-14]
This game was a true rollercoaster, with no quarter given and none asked, Bath were looking for more and with the backs starting to find a few gaps in the Irish line, they were doing a great job of keeping Irish guessing.
Another penalty conceded by Irish was kicked to the corner and from the lineout some more sharp hands at the back of the ruck sent Ross Batty in for his third try of the evening. Alex Davies couldn’t add the extras this time but Bath had regained the lead at a crucial time. [14-19]
Half-Time - London Irish A 14-19 Bath United
An extraordinary second half saw both teams struggle to find the fluency both previously had in the first, neither side being able to truly threaten the try line. Both sides were pushing for scores, however defences were proving to be tough to break down.
Frustrations were starting to get the better of Irish who, couldn’t find the right mix to find the crucial score to level things up. The Blue, Black and White soaking up wave after wave of thunderous running from Irish forwards and backs.
As the conditions grew colder, handling became more challenging and ultimately Bath, with the points on the board, had the savvy to see the game out.
A penalty, two minutes from time, after continuous Irish infringements, handed captain Alex Davies the opportunity the extend the lead and confirm Bath United as winners on a cold night in Sunbury.