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What a difference a win makes!

What a difference a win makes! Luke Watson came off the bench to score the decisive try on his debut and Daniel Browne marked his return from long-term injury by adding a last-minute flourish after Ospreys had threatened to spoil the party.

Bath supporters' spirits will also have been lifted by performances from the new generation, youngsters like Guy Mercer, Nathan Catt, Ben Williams and Scott Hobson.

The signal for Watson to make his long-awaited debut in blue, black and white came at the end of the half-time break but it almost caught him unawares.
"The strange thing was that I was late on to the field because I didn't even know that I was supposed to be on," said the bearded Springbok, latterly skipper of Western Province. "Someone said to me: 'Are you ready?' but I didn't know they wanted me on immediately. I came running on a good minute after the team took the field."

Once there, however, he wasted no time in imposing his will on the game, chivvying his new teammates, forcing a penalty turnover, linking effectively in the loose and in the 68th minute rumbling over for a try on the blindside after a catch and drive at a lineout.

A satisfying moment? "Yes, but it was more the fact that it took us out of range for the first time, so that was very exciting. I was aware of all the rivalry and tradition around today's game so I knew it was going to be a physical encounter. I really enjoyed it.

"The main thing for me was to remember all the moves, try to fit into the structures, adapt as quickly as I could into the Bath strategy and to their style of play."

After a night of gales and heavy rain, 10,789 spectators stood in silence when a bugler of the 3rd Yorkshire Regiment with honour guard sounded the Last Post as wreaths were laid at the memorial on the clubhouse wall.

The sun made a brief appearance soon after kick-off, prompting Ospreys fullback Barry Davies to attempt a highly optimistic dropped goal from his own half, hardly reaching the home 22. His pack were winning quick ball in the loose but just as liable to give away penalties at the breakdown.

However it was Bath who were first to be punished as young Williams was penalised for holding on in the centre and Barry Davies landed a 40 metre penalty on 12 minutes.

Ryan Davis had a chance to level the scores five minutes later but was defeated by the wind. However, given another chance from a much easier position in the 20th minute he put Bath on the scoreboard for the first time.

Ospreys were already under severe pressure in the scrum from the Bath eight but Rob Hawkins had to be helped off the field with a leg injury, allowing England and Lions hooker Lee Mears to make his first appearance since the Heineken Cup match in Belfast.

Both sides were conceding penalties rather too readily but the only score came from Ospreys fly-half Gareth Owen five minutes before the break, a fine kick from 40 metres.

Jack Cuthbert sent two attempts wide either side of the break but the introduction of Watson and Daniel Browne, with Ben Skirving moving up into the second row for Peter Short, had given Bath rather more zip up front.

Davis resumed the kicking duties and struck two successful penalties after 48 and 55 minutes to edge his side in front for the first time.

And when David Flatman entered the fray from the bench, the Ospreys scrum found itself under even greater pressure. Watson's try originated with a high kick from Davis which embarrassed the Ospreys defence and almost let Tom Cheeseman in for a try. Flatman won a penalty at the resulting scrum and Davis opted for a line-out from which Watson jubilantly touched down. Davis's conversion was wide in the blustery wind.

A more fluent and confident Bath display would have seen them pull away for a comfortable victory but the Ospreys fed off errors to mount a sustained assault in the closing ten minutes.

As a loose ball cannoned around on the home 22, Ospreys skipper Jerry Collins took charge, driving down the blindside and drawing Cuthbert before unloading to flanker Justin Tipuric who scored by the flag. Replacement Matthew Jarvis was just wide with the conversion but there were still three minutes for the Welsh side to snatch an improbable win.

It's an uncomfortably familiar feeling for Bath supporters but this time there was to be no repeat of the heartbreaks against Harlequins, Stade Francais and Newcastle. Instead Watson took a quick free kick and booted the ball high into the Ospreys 22 where it was fumbled by winger Ashley Beck. As the posse closed in, the ball fell loose to Browne who scored with ease, leaving Davis with a simple conversion.

"Given the conditions, it was never going to be pretty," said forwards coach Martin Haag, who could take a great deal of satisfaction from the way his pack dominated, particularly in the scrums.

"The performance in patches was really good. It may not have been the prettiest but sometimes when you need to win and you want some confidence, you just stick to the things you say you will do and come away with a win."

On specific plus points, Haag added: "I also think that for some of the academy guys who played today and haven't had many opportunities, it was a chance for them to show the senior coaches what they can do, not just through the A League but in a proper environment.

"There were a number of individuals who did a really good job today Nathan Catt, who came in today after being injured through the summer; Guy Mercer did a great job on open side in his first big game, Ben Williams in the centre, Scott Hobson too."

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