MATCH SUMMARY – NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 40-19 BATH RUGBY
A heavily disrupted Bath Rugby were beaten by Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.
Losing Josh McNally in the warm-up, the Blue, Black and Whites fell behind within a minute as Rory Hutchinson ran in for Saints.
Tommy Freeman scored soon after before Sam Underhill replied for the visitors.
Bath then lost half-back pairing Ben Spencer and Danny Cipriani to injuries and Northampton crossed twice through Juarno Augustus.
Lewis Boyce nudged his way over for a score just before the break and fellow prop Will Stuart added to Bath’s tally.
But Northampton sealed their victory via a double from wing Courtnall Skosan.
Will Butt came in for his first Premiership appearance replacing Jonathan Joseph who was carrying knock. Cipriani came in for Orlando Bailey in similar circumstances while Tom Ellis was named in the back row with Miles Reid sidelined.
Northampton made four changes to their starting XV. Hutchinson returned in the centre with Sam Matavesi, Ehren Painter and Karl Wilkins added to the pack.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Ehren Painter, 4 David Ribbans, 5 Alex Moon, 6 Karl Wilkins, 7 Lewis Ludlam (c), 8 Juarno Augustus
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Alex Coles, 21 Tom James, 22 Tom Litchfield. 23 Ollie Sleightholme
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Will Butt, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Mike Williams, 5 Charlie Ewels ©, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Josh Bayliss
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Will Vaughan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Nahum Merigan, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Ewan Richards, 22 Ollie Fox, 23 Gabriel Hamer-Webb
Saints went on the front foot from the off and crossed in the first minute. The hosts made use of an overlap to the right and Hutchinson scampered across the whitewash.
In response. Tom de Glanville evaded a number of challenges before releasing Spencer. In turn, he went out the backdoor to Josh Bayliss after making 15 or so metres but the ball couldn’t quite stick.
Tom Dunn and Underhill carried well to make metres and the forwards had great early success at the line-out but not before Freeman went over from an inside ball.
Three penalties moved Bath to the five and a strong maul allowed Underhill to leg drive his way to the line.
Soon after, with Spencer on the floor receiving treatment, Saints made the most of their advantage with their third try. Fraser Dingwall raced away and was superbly hauled down by Butt but managed to pop for Number 8 Augustus to dot down.
The back rower managed to grab his second moments later on a short line with Bath forced into a makeshift backline and down to 14 due to a Mike Williams sin bin.
Further changes were needed early in the second half as Williams received a blow to the head but Bath continued to have joy at the line-out and succession of penalties resulted in Matavesi being yellow carded.
The resultant penalty saw Stuart tap and power over to make it 28-19, however Northampton rallied and replied immediately through Skosan.
Attacking intent remained with Bath as Underhill and de Glanville asked questions of the home defence.
Though when Saints did eventually retrieve possession, they managed to make it count. Will Muir and de Glanville put their bodies on the line to stop Ollie Sleightholme from finishing a cross-kick but the ball was quickly recycled and punt to the other corner where Skosan was on hand to score his second.
Until the very end, Bath tried their best to get a try-bonus. Max Ojomoh – who stepped in at fly-half – sent a looping ball to Muir on the wing and de Glanville dancing footwork made hard ground. Ojomoh again flicked a ball out to Bayliss and his strength forced his way to the five.
Saints were patient in their defensive system and earned a turnover on their own goalline to thwart Bath and see out the game.
4 December 2021
Referee: Karl Dickson
Half Time score: 28-12
- Tries: Hutchinson (1), Freeman (11), Augustus (23, 34), Skosan (50, 68)
- Conversions: Biggar (1, 12, 24, 35), Furbank (69)
- Tries: Underhill (16), Boyce (39), Stuart (48)
- Conversions: de Glanville (40, 49)