Newcastle fought back in the closing 20 minutes to claim a dramatic 32-33 victory over Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground.
The visitors came flying out of the blocks and found themselves in amongst the tries after just eight minutes. It was Santiago Socino, who was at the centre of the attack, as the hooker rampaged his way through the Bath defence. The Argentinian offloaded in the tackle to find Sonatane Takulua, who finished under the posts. 0-7
Four minutes later, Falcons crossed the whitewash for the second time of the afternoon through Rob Vickers. It was Socino again causing havoc with ball in hand, as he powered his way to just short of the Bath try line. The attack was rewarded with Vickers bundling his way over from close range. 0-14
It got even better for the Falcons, when DTH van der Merwe crossed for a try on his debut after 17 minutes. It was Craig Willis who unlocked the Bath defence with a clever grubber kick, and van der Merwe was there to pounce in the corner. 0-19
Bath were centimetres from getting their first points on the board five minutes later. Quick hands from Matt Banahan set Chris Cook free down the left wing and over the whitewash. However, the decision went to the TMO and the effort was ruled out, with Cook's foot just scraping the touchline.
It wasn’t long before the home side got back into the game, through Matt Banahan. A superb break from Jack Walker set-up the Bath attack, before Max Clark combined with the fullback, who helped to close the gap on the scoreboard. 7-19
With a minute left to play in the first half, Rhys Priestland slotted a penalty from the Falcons’ 10m line, to send the sides into the break closely-poised at 10-19.
Half-time – Bath Rugby 10-19 Newcastle Falcons
The fightback continued into the second-half, as Bath continued to pile the pressure on the Falcons’ defence. Their efforts were rewarded on 43 minutes, as the ever-reliable Priestland kicked Bath to within six points. 13-19
A second try of the afternoon for Bath followed two minutes later, and it was another piece of magic from the man in form, Semesa Rokoduguni. It was a spectacular effort from the winger, who collected the loose ball on halfway and in doing so, sent the Falcons defence into disarray. The winger circled the visitors' defence, before gliding down the right wing, to score his fourth try of the season. 18-19
The comeback was complete three minutes later, when Charlie Ewels crashed over. A delayed pass from Priestland opened the gap for Jonathan Joseph, who in turn offloaded to Ewels, and the forward did the rest. 25-19
Joseph then went from provider to try scorer, as Bath made it three tries in 10 minutes. A quick tap penalty found Joseph on halfway and there was nothing stopping the England international. The centre evaded the Falcons tackles with his trademark quick feet and he jinked his way to the try line, for a bonus-point score. 32-19
With 14 minutes to play, Falcons gave themselves a lifeline with a try of their own finished off by Chris Harris. A sweeping move from the visitors saw Falcons back rower Will Welch put Harris in the clear and put his side within six points. 32-26
With the clock ticking and the pressure mounting, a second comeback of the afternoon was in reach. With four minutes to play, Falcons made the territory count, as Mark Wilson drove over from close range, with Joel Hodgson adding the crucial conversion. 32-33
Bath fought valiantly in the closing stages to regain the lead, but Falcons held strong to close out the game.
Full-time – Bath Rugby 32-33 Newcastle Falcons
23 September 2017
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Half Time score: 10-19
- Tries: Banahan (28), Rokoduguni (44), Ewels (47), Joseph (54)
- Conversions: Priestland (29, 47, 56)
- Penalties: Priestland (39, 42)
- Tries: Takulua (8), Vickers (11), Van Der Merwe (17), Harris (66), Wilson (75)
- Conversions: Takulua (9, 13), Hodgson (67, 76)