Match Summary – London Irish 26-7 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby’s Premiership Rugby Cup campaign ended in defeat against a London Irish side who qualified for the knockouts with victory.
Though the result may not suggest it, the away team’s defence was sound for the most part, but it was their discipline which allowed Irish opportunities to secure their win.
Hooker Matt Cornish scored either side of half-time with Ed Scragg adding another for the Exiles before Isaac Miller's late dot down.
Back row Tom Ellis crossed for a late Bath consolation.
Archie Griffin made his first Bath Rugby start from tighthead while fellow Academy players Tom Carr-Smith, George Worboys, Jordan Venter and Sam Harris were also involved.
Front row duo Juan Schoeman and Tom Doughty returned from injury and Tom de Glanville was included on the wing.
For Irish, Jacob Atkins was set for his 50th outing for the Londoners and Eddie Poolman debuted in the centre.
London Irish: 15 Logan Trotter, 14 Matt Williams, 13 Eddie Poolman, 12 Tom Hitchcock, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Caolan Englefield, 1 Facundo Gigena, 2 Matt Cornish, 3 Ciaran Parker, 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Ed Scragg, 6 Jack Cooke (c), 7 Ben Donnell, 8 Ben Atkins
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Mikey Summerfield, 18 Luke Green, 19 Lucas Brooke, 20 Josh Smart, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Monty Bradbury, 23 Jack Walsh
Bath Rugby: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Tom de Glanville, 13 Jordan Venter, 12 Max Wright, 11 Will Butt, 10 George Worboys, 9 Tom Carr-Smith; 1 Juan Schoeman, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 Archie Griffin, 4 Michael Etete, 5 JJ Tonks, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Wesley White, 8 Richard de Carpentier (c)
Impact players: 16 Jasper Spandler, 17 Archie Stanley, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Ethan Staddon, 20 Frankie Read, 21 Louie Hennessey, 22 Gabe Goss, 23 Nahum Merigan
Bath’s turnover count was high in the opening 20 minutes though their time on the ball was slight.
On their first five visits to the away 22, Irish were thwarted – twice by strong defensive mauls, a Wesley White jackal, a crossing penalty and a line-out steal from Ellis.
The penalty count was unfortunately growing from a Blue, Black and White perspective though. Fly-half Jacob Atkins opted to punt into the corner on each occasion and it was on the sixth where they got their reward with hooker Cornish crashing over.
Momentum was stopped just past the midway point of the first half as home full-back Logan Trotter suffered what looked like a severe lower limb injury and there was a lengthy period before he was taken from the field.
Play restarted with a London Irish scrum deep in Bath territory, but again the visitors denied their hosts with Carr-Smith stripping his opposite number Caolan Englefield of possession.
Irish did manage to cross just shy of the hour. Wave after wave of picks from the base of several rucks resulted in second row Scragg bundling his way over from close range and Atkins’ boot took the score to 14-0.
Bath did mount a few promising moments. When Griffin pulled a pass in behind to Tom de Glanville, his grubber was well fielded with Will Butt and Ethan Staddon on the charge.
Doughty bulldozed his way upstream and JJ Tonks also carried hard, but to no avail as Irish saw out the half with a cleansheet to their name.
If Bath were going to get themselves back into the game, they needed to get a foothold in the game and aim for the first score of the second period.
Instead, it was Irish who built on their scoreline on 43 minutes. Flankers Jack Cooke and Ben Donnell both made in-roads in behind the Bath defence and it led to Cornish diving over for his second of the evening.
Bath tried but found it difficult to find space in which to attack and when they did, their execution was found failing.
Their first venture into London Irish’s 22 came on the hour, though their assault on the try line went astray.
They kept going and debutants Elliot Millar-Mills and Frankie Read impressed when they entered the fray. Staddon and captain Richard de Carpentier carried in fine fashion as did Schoeman. The South African went past the Irish defence but fumbled at the last.
Academy hooker Jasper Spandler came on for the final quarter and manoeuvred the set piece well as the maul began to get going. Again, at the last, Bath couldn’t find the final push needed to get points.
They did finish the game with seven points as Ellis' try was converted by Harris, however it came after Miller had already secured a bonus point for Irish.