Bath Rugby opened their 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership campaign with a 19-12 defeat to newcomers Newcastle Falcons at the Rec on Saturday.
Despite the Blue, Black and White taking an early lead through Joe Cokanasiga, and almost adding a second just minutes later through Ben Spencer, the visitors had other ideas and lead at the interval through a brace from No. 8 Gary Graham.
Josh Matavesi restored clarity early on in the second-half but the defiant Falcons continued to play in the right areas of the field and applied pressure, eventually paying off when Ben Stevenson crossed for the North East sides' third of the game. Brett Connon also added four points from the tee.
The hosts exploded into life in the early exchanges and looked very much like the bath of post-restart last season with Cokanasiga the beneficiary, thanks to a quick and quality offload from Cameron Redpath. The move began from the line-out as the hosts compiled the pressure and turned it into points.
Redpath was then involved again as the young centre popped the ball up to Spencer, who believed he had bagged the second try of the game, but it was disallowed after TMO David Rose spotted a knock on.
Newcastle got themselves onto the scoreboard just after the first quarter of the game as they gained momentum from the scrum, following a de Glanville knock on. Graham was the scorer, Newcastle worked their way into the 22 well and following a quickly taken line-out the No. 8 pounced over.
In similar fashion the visitors added their second to give themselves a 12-7 lead at the break, again through Graham, powering his way over from close range after some explosive carrying from the Falcons' forwards.
The hosts began the second period in similar fashion to the first, quick play and explosive forward movement led to the try of the game. Matavesi scoring against his former side, which began with a kicking game of ping pong, from which de Glanville brought in. Bath then went from left to right before Ruaridh McConnochie found a gap and offloaded to the centre, who raced clear to level the scores.
But it wasn't to be as Ben Stevenson crossed the whitewash following some real patient play from the Falcons on 51 minutes.
Despite a real effort from hosts to get themselves back on level terms and battle to win the game, the Falcons saw out the result, claiming a well-earned victory at the Rec.
Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper reacted to the result: “A number of parts of our game were unacceptable today, the attributes we showed are not in line with the team that we want to be.
"There were positive moments, our two tries were high-quality and showed what we can do. However, we left behind too many of the things that allow us to be the team that we know we can be. Ultimately, we were way below the standard that we set for each other and we must be better.”
The key moment came during the second-half, Charlie Ewels came on to replace Will Spencer in the 52nd minute and having lifted the sides spirits, the lock put in some inspiring hits and commanded the defensive line. However, the 25-year-old was send to the sin-bin on the 62nd minute due to a questionable high tackle on winger Aadam Radwan. From this is allowed Newcastle to exploit the space left on the field.
Tries: Joe Cokanasiga (9'), Josh Matavesi (45')
Conversions: Rhys Priestland (10')
Tries: Gary Graham (21', 37'), Ben Stevenson (51')
Conversions: Brett Connon (38', 54')
21 November 2020
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Half Time score: 7-12
- Tries: Cokanasiga (8), Matavesi (44)
- Conversions: Priestland (9)
- Tries: Graham (21, 37), Stevenson (50)
- Conversions: Connon (38, 51)