Match summary – Harlequins 31-17 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby absorbed a great amount of second-half pressure from Harlequins, but the Gallagher Premiership champions turned the screw late on to win 31-17 at Twickenham Stoop.
Home centre Andrew Esterhuizen scored two tries in 16 minutes before a positive response from the Blue, Black and White saw Sam Underhill and Will Stuart cross.
Orlando Bailey’s boot had Bath ahead at the break, however a strong second 40 saw Marcus Smith and Joe Marchant (2) cross to record victory.
Bath Rugby made eight changes for the trip to The Stoop with Joe Simpson coming in for his debut.
Bailey partnered the experienced nine in the half-back slots while Max Clark came into the midfield with Max Ojomoh.
Harlequins fielded a side containing former Bath man Jack Walker as well as England internationals Smith, Joe Marler, Marchant, Danny Care and Alex Dombrandt.
Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jack Walker, 3 Will Collier, 4 Matt Symons, 5 Dino Lamb, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Tom Lawday, 8 Alex Dombrandt ©
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Luke Northmore
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Joe Simpson; 1 Beno Obano, 2 Jacques du Toit, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Josh McNally, 5 Charlie Ewels ©, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Jaco Coetzee
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Gabe Hamer-Webb
Quins retrieved possession back from their own kick-off and went on the attack from the off. On four minutes, they crossed for the game’s opener with Esterhuizen powering over out wide.
Bath were rocked seconds later as a head to injury to Jaco Coetzee – included in the side to provide go-forward – resulted in a long stoppage and the Number 8 needing to be removed.
His departure from the field led to Richard de Carpentier earning his first minutes in a Bath jersey and his introduction, along with the remaining 14 in white, got the team back to the level of physicality expected at top-flight level.
Also appearing for Bath for the first time, Simpson added an injection of pace from scrum-half and linked well with Tom de Glanville and Semesa Rokoduguni for the visitors’ first points via a Bailey penalty.
Clark made two huge hits in quick succession as Quins were forced backwards and Beno Obano combined with front-row partner Jacques du Toit to almost send Underhill steaming under the posts.
Former England Sevens teammates Ruaridh McConnochie and de Carpentier caused havoc in behind the home defence as Bath began to get on the front foot, but Quins showed their quality moments later as Care and Esterhuizen executed a two-on-one for the latter to score in the corner.
Not downbeat going nine points behind, de Glanville pinned Tyrone Green back with a bouncing grubber and his second kick to the same man allowed Rokoduguni to pressurise the full-back.
De Glanville was having a period of real involvement and it was his line from an Ojomoh slice that saw Joe Marler sin binned for an illegal tackle.
With a man advantage, Bath went to the corner and du Toit’s lobbed throw found his back pod and an immediate drive ensued with Underhill diving over from close range.
With their tails up, Ojomoh hit a 50:22 on the run and a few phases later, the away side edged ahead. Patience and physicality aided the hard yards for Stuart to carry hard and dive home.
Injuries to de Glanville and Obano disrupted Bath and soon after Simpson needed to come off, but not before putting his body on the line to thwart a positive looking Quins move on the blindside.
As Bath aimed to get set with a number of new faces on the pitch so early in the second period, Harlequins capitalised. British & Irish Lion Smith received the ball out the back and arced his way to the try line, converting his own score to put the hosts back in front.
Opportunities for the Blue, Black and Whites were limited but de Carpentier saw a lot of ball and he was key in almost sending Ollie Fox into the corner.
That was the only glimpse of Bath on the front foot with Harlequins grabbing a foothold on proceedings. A series of penalties and inability to exit meant a period of sustained pressure in the Bath half for Tabai Matson’s team who eventually broke down the Bath resolve with six minutes to go.
Green’s jink inside saw him release the ball to Dombrandt and the Number 8’s overhead pass found Marchant in space and he finished expertly.
The centre went over again in the closing stages. An audacious Green lob was fortuitous in finding an onrushing Smith and the fly-half sent Marchant in to add gloss to the scoreline.
Despite the final score, it was a step forward in terms of performance on last week (v Saracens) for Bath Rugby who head back to the Rec next week needing the support of every single person associated with the club.
23 October 2021
Referee: Luke Pearce
Half Time score: 12-17
- Tries: Esterhuizen (3, 15), Smith (47), Marchant (73, 78)
- Conversions: Smith (4, 48, 74)
- Tries: Underhill (25), Stuart (31)
- Conversions: Bailey (26, 31)
- Penalties: Bailey (7)