Rhys Priestland scored with the last kick of the game to clinch a dramatic 32-30 victory over Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership at the Recreation Ground.
It took just 10 minutes for Bath to cross the whitewash with Paul Grant continuing his recent scoring run breaking through the Saints’ defence. The number eight finished off some great work from fellow forwards Max Lahiff and Tom Dunn, who had driven the team forward into the opponents 22. 5-0
Two penalties from Saints’ fly-half Stephen Myler gave the visitors the lead after 25 minutes before the man of the moment struck back for Bath.
In his 100th appearance for the Club, Semesa Rokoduguni ensured that it would be a night to remember as he crossed for his 48th try in the Blue, Black and White. The 29-year-old collected a well-timed pass from scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i to break the resistance of the Northampton defence and send his side back in front on the scoreboard. 12-6
Eight minutes before the interval, Tom Homer was close to adding a third try of the evening, but for an excellent intervention from Ken Pisi, who held the fullback up over the tryline. However, the respite for Saints was short lived as from the resulting scrum, referee Wayne Barnes awarded Bath a penalty try. 19-6
In the last play of the half, the reliable Myler added another three points to send his team into the break 10 points adrift.
Half-time score: Bath Rugby 19-9 Northampton Saints
Two minutes after the restart, Priestland added another three points from the boot and that is where the score stayed until a frenetic closing 20 minutes at the Rec. 22-9
Despite the early dominance, the game started swinging in favour of the Saints, who started to eat away at Bath’s lead with Ben Foden first to score. The captain broke free in the corner after some resolute defending from the home side, which had previously kept the Saints at bay for a number of phases. 22-16
The pressure was firmly on the Bath defence and were soon reduced to 14 men, with Kane Palma-Newport sent to the sin bin for an infringement at the breakdown with less than 15 minutes to play.
Northampton took advantage of being a man up with replacement Api Ratuniyarawa bundling his way over to score, with Myler once again keeping up his impressive kicking record to put his side in front. 22-23
A little less than 60 seconds later, Chris Cook, who had been on the pitch the same amount of time produced one of the moments of the game. The scrum-half specialist deployed on the wing didn’t look out of place, as he put his ingenuity to good use. The 25-year-old beat his first man on the left wing, before chipping over Saint’s fullback Ahsee Tuala in what would become a foot race between the two to the try line. It was the Bath man who prevailed diving on the ball to the delight of the Bath supporters. 29-23
However, Northampton were far from finished as Jamie Gibson powered his way over after a well-worked line-out and maul just a minute after Priestland had converted Cook’s try. 29-30
Time was running out for Bath, but with three minutes to go, Priestland had his chance with a penalty a few metres from the touchline, midway inside the Northampton half. It wasn’t to be this time for the fly-half, but a charge down from the resulting kick gave the Welsh international a chance to win it at the death. It was a case of second time lucky for Priestland as he sent the Rec into raptures maintaining his composure to clinch a bonus-point victory in the most dramatic of fashion.
Final score: Bath Rugby 32-30 Northampton Saints