Bath Rugby were left to rue missed chances in a truly heartbreaking afternoon at the Rec as the Blue, Black and White were beaten 23-19 by Scarlets in the Heineken Champions Cup.
In a high intensity affair, it was Bath Rugby who got themselves on the board first with a well-worked penalty. Ben Spencer the beneficiary with a perfect shot from the tee. This followed up by some brilliant running lines from Cameron Redpath and Ruaridh McConnochie.
Against the run of play, Scarlets get themselves the first try of the afternoon, Gareth Davies the scorer, who was celebrated his 200th game for the Welsh region. A classic scrum-half try, he snipped his way through the gap and wriggled his way over.
It only took 18 minutes of continuous pressure and knocking on the door of the Scarlets try line before a stellar piece of play led to the hosts taking the lead. A lovely piece of interplay began from No. 8 Zach Mercer, with offloads to JJ and Sam Underhill before the flanker found Ruaridh McConnochie, who dotted down in the corner.
Bath then earned a penalty, with Spencer converting, from the scrum. Referee Alexandre Ruiz had enough of the Scarlets infringements and raised his hand. Bath etched into a 4-point lead.
However, on 32 minutes the Welsh region got to within a point of Bath Rugby with a Halfpenny penalty. Just three minutes later, Spencer re-established the four-point gap as the hosts were awarded a penalty, to which the nine converted with ease.
Bath Rugby went into the break 14-10 up but it was only six minutes into the second period when Ruiz called for another penalty, with the hosts being caught offside. Halfpenny smashed his effort through the uprights from close range.
Bath were pilling the pressure on Scarlets with a lot of possession and territory, but they were unable to make that pressure pay off until the 53 minute. The hosts got their reward through Will Stuart, who crashed over to score in his first appearance of the season for the Blue, Black and White.
Scarlets get plucking away and also saw their hard work rewarded on 64 minutes, Kieran Hardy, the replacement nine received an easy offload to cruise in under the sticks. Halfpenny added the extra two to give his side the lead.
As the game ebbed and flowed, it was Scarlets who took their chance in the 75 minute, after being awarded a penalty inside the 22. Bath caught for having their hands in the ruck. Halfpenny took his time with the kick from 15 metres out.
The game then took a turn for the hosts. In the 78 minute, a held up the ball over the line, deemed no try. Then as the clock struck red, Bath continued to pile on the pressure with continuous and relentless forward phases. It was Spencer, who had a fantastic game, stretched his arm out towards the line in the last play of the game, but was denied the try after the TMO's intervention.
A heart-breaking night at the Rec, but one full of heart and some thrilling rugby from the Blue, Black and White. Hooper's men travel to La Rochelle next Saturday.
Tries:Ruaridh McConnochie (18'), Will Stuart (53')
Penalties: Ben Spencer (3', 25', 35')
Tries: Gareth Davies (8'), Kieran Hardy (65')
Conversions: Leigh Halfpenny (8', 65')
Penalties: Leigh Halfpenny (32', 46', 75')