Sixth Straight win for on form Bath

As the best team in the Guinness Premiership on current form, having picked up 22 of a possible 25 league points from their last five games, it was little wonder that Bath Rugby walked away with the win again today against Newcastle Falcons.

Forwards Coach Martin Haag acknowledged earlier in the week that Kingston Park is never an easy place to play, but with the pitch conditions creating a tough challenge early, Bath were unable to celebrate any points until the 11th minute.

From a line out in the host's territory, Bath took the ball wide and good handling from Michael Claassens and Luke Watson sent Nick Abendanon free on the left wing to feed to Matt Banahan who beat off two attempted tacklers to score for five.

However, Bath's lead was short lived. Having caught a kick by Ryan Davis, Jimmy Gopperth was able to break through the Bath defence. Even though he was tackled five metres short of the white line by Peter Short, Rob Vickerman was waiting on the wing to cross the line in the corner. A successful conversion by Gopperth nudged Newcastle ahead 7 points to 5.

As the clock marked 20 minutes of the match, Newcastle continued to threaten Bath, as a line out on Bath's 10 metre line resulted in a break by James Hudson down the wing. Good cover defence by Abendanon and Davis stifled the attempted try, but a Bath offence handed Gopperth the ball to boot three points instead.

With 10 minutes left of the first half, Bath were looking to reduce the score divide and some slick moves from Claassens, Davis and Olly Barkley looked close to handing them the points they needed. However, the hosts were not going to give up their winning position easily and a Bath infringement meant that Gopperth was kicking for a penalty once more. The fly half missed.

Spurred on by the number 10's failure to slot the ball, the visitors put in a determined effort to get back into Falcon's 22. They succeeded. But, even with the efforts of Michael Stephenson and Abendanon it was not enough to grasp the try and the half-time whistle blew on 10-5 to Newcastle.

Coming back from the interval, the break obviously had the desired effect as three minutes into the second half, Nick Abendanon was crossing the line. The full back threw the ball in from touch for a quick line out in an effort to up the tempo. Davis made a perceptive offload to Banahan who broke the line and Bath recycled, keeping the ball alive, through Watson and Davey Wilson. The ball found replacement David Flatman, on the touch line, passing to Abendanon who cut back inside to score. Davis missed the conversion.

The visitors, benefiting from the fresh legs of the replacement front row, began to gain the upper hand at the scrum, which earned a penalty from the half way line. Barkley stepped up to put his left boot in action, but his kick fell just short of the posts.

The Falcons mirrored the missed penalty, and from the next phase of play, Abendanon stole the ball and made a break down the right touch line to feed to Stephenson. The winger was tackled just short of the line by Charlie Amesbury, but it mattered little. Holding onto possession, the ex-Newcastle player Wilson crashed over the line for a try. With a successful conversion Bath were leading 17 points to 10 at 64 minutes.

Entering the final 10 minutes of the match, the Falcons were able to reclaim a few points as a Bath offence meant that Gopperth was able to kick three.

With three minutes left to play the Falcons were insistent upon clawing that final try to ensure that they were victorious, but rarely looking threatening and with Bath defence remaining solid, it was not enough. As Wilson won a turn over for the visiting team, Abendanon booted the ball into the crowd for the final whistle to ring out and Bath's sixth consecutive win ended on a final score of 13 to 17.

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