A closely fought game ended with Bath Rugby taking a losing bonus point home with them after suffering a narrow 21-20 loss to Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership this afternoon.
The home side started sharply – a strong maul from the lineout leading to the deployment of quick hands through the backs. The ball found Tim Visser out wide and the Scotland winger strolled over from short range to give Quins the lead after three minutes. 5-0.
Harlequins enjoyed the majority of possession in the first quarter, but a long kick well-fielded by Semesa Rokoduguni set Bath up for their first points of the game. The winger set off from deep in his own half on a mazy, pacy run, shrugging off defenders left and right to take play right into the Quins 22. Whilst the attacking move broke down, the Bath pack stepped-up and turned the Quins scrum against the head, winning the penalty. Tom Homer stepped up and sent the ball sailing through the uprights. 5-3.
Quins maintained control though. Tim Swiel, on for Nick Evans at fly-half, added two penalties to the earlier try to extend the lead to 11-3, before Bath fought back through a break from Tom Dunn.
The hooker found himself charging up the wing on a barnstorming run before offloading to keep the ball alive. Matt Garvey, Dave Attwood, Ben Tapuai and Dan Bowden were all involved in driving the ball closer and closer to the try line, and Darren Allinson managed to take it to just inches from the line. Kane Palma-Newport picked the ball up from the breakdown and burrowed over the line under a pile of bodies to get the all-important score. Homer added the conversion to make it a one-point game as the two sides went in at the break.
Half-time: Harlequins 11 – Bath Rugby 10.
Homer’s good day with the boot continued not long after half-time as he added another three points to take Bath in front for the first time in the game.
Swiel missed a long-range attempt on 56 minutes, before Quins broke through the defence to score the try that had been coming since the start of the second-half. Karl Dickson combined with Marland Yarde and James Chisholm neatly down the right touchline before crossing the whitewash. Swiel added the extras to give the home side a five point lead. 18-13.
This was not a game for the faint-hearted however, and as the final ten minutes approached, Bath regained the lead. Two penalties in a row led to a well-placed kick to touch from replacement Matt Banahan giving Bath a lineout five metres out. The pack drove hard, then carried out a series of pick and goes within touching distance of the line. Eventually the pressure told on the Quins defence, and Nathan Catt scrambled his way over from short range. Homer, with a little help from the inside of the left post, added the conversion. 18-20.
As was the nature of the game however, it wasn’t long before the lead changed hands once again – Swiel kicking what turned out to be the decisive penalty of the game, and securing the win for the Londoners.
Final score: Harlequins 21 – Bath Rugby 20.