Bath go second with London Irish victory

Bath moved up to second place in the Aviva Premiership by beating London Irish 43-18 at the Rec on Friday.

Rugby League convert played his second Premiership match at flank and scored one of Bath’s five tries – through a rolling maul.

Bath stormed out of the blocks early on, clearly showing their intent to attack from the first whistle as they chose to run at Irish rather than kick forwards.

That rousing start continued and the hosts kicked themselves ahead after just three minutes, George Ford making no mistake after Irish conceded a penalty well within kicking range.

Three became six a couple of minutes later, this time Irish collapsing a scrum to give Ford his second opportunity to send the ball between the sticks as the hosts dominated the early proceedings.

Overcoming those early setbacks, Irish grew into the game as the clock ticked past 10 minutes, twice going close only to be held up a few metres from the try line.

Irish were able to capitalise on a foul at the scrum, as Chris Noakes got his side onto the board with a straight forward penalty in a good little spell for Irish.

After weathering that storm, it was Bath who emerged from the restart quickest, and Ford took hold of kicking duties for the third time in less than 20 minutes to restore a six point lead at The Rec.

Mike Ford’s side continued the pressure on Irish, whose earlier spell of possession had fizzled out, and they were lucky to hold out Bath in front of the posts, though they did concede a penalty which once again Ford made no mistake from.

Noakes cut the deficit again minutes later, before both try lines were really threatened. After prolonged pressure, it seemed Bath had undone all their promising work up the field when Noakes was able to sneak in after a tap and go restart, and looked to have the freedom of the pitch to grab the first try of the afternoon. But his foray forward was halted by an exuberant Anthony Watson, who dragged him to the ground to save what looked a certain try.

The Exiles didn’t have too long to wait before dragging themselves back within contention, as Tom Court managed to make some Irish pressure count as he burst through to go over, Noakes conversion the final action of the half as Irish went in a point in front.

But Bath didn’t come out of the other side of half-time ruing that late try, in fact it spurred them on to strike twice in quick succession. The first was courtesy of Leroy Houston, and it came after a couple of five metre scrums had the Irish defence in tatters, first knocking on after Francois Louw had gone close, before Houston went through bodies before touching down, Ford doing the rest.

And almost immediately following the restart, the second came from Jonathan Joseph. The speed demon launched a quick attack, and chipped over before gathering his own kick and grounding to send The Rec onto their feet once again.

The Exiles were in shock as they watched all that good first-half work drift away in just a matter of minutes, and they were unable to do anything about Bath’s third after 55 minutes. Peter Stringer found Kyle Eastmond with a looped pass, and he in turn allowed Matt Banahan to stride over on the wing for try number three, though Ford missed his first effort of the night.

The fourth came courtesy of Sam Burgess, who was the man with ball in hand as the Exiles had no answer to a strong Bath maul, Ford converting in a half of total dominance from the play-off chasing Bath, who secured the bonus point with that try.

The punishment continued after Bath were awarded a penalty, Semesa Rokoduguni steaming over in the right hand corner to enhance the second half beating which saw Bath add 31 points in just half an hour’s play. But Irish did have the final say though as they grabbed their second try of the night.

After kicking right into the corner, the Exiles were able to force over thanks to Blair Cowan, who gave Irish something to cheer in a dismal second-half for the visitors, though Geraghty couldn’t bring his side up to the 20 points mark with his kick failing to meet the target in the final action of a game that Bath seized control of in the second half.

Final Score Bath 43 (12) London Irish 18 (13)

Scorers

Bath
Tries – Houston, Joseph, Banahan, Burgess, Rokoduguni
Pen – Ford (4)
Con – Ford (3)
Drop –
Cards –

London Irish
Tries – Court, Cowan
Pen – Noakes (2)
Con – Noakes
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee
:Luke Pearce (38th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden and Kelvin Stewart.
TMO: Graham Hughes.

Teams

Bath

15 Anthony Watson , 14 Semesa Rokoduguni , 13 Jonathan Joseph , 12 Kyle Eastmond , 11 Matt Banahan , 10 George Ford , 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston , 7 Francois Louw , 6 Sam Burgess, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c) , 3 Kane Palma-Newport , 2 Rob Webber ,1 Paul James

Replacements : 16 Ross Batty , 17 Nick Auterac , 18 Max Lahiff , 19 Dave Attwood , 20 Matt Garvey , 21 Carl Fearns , 22 Chris Cook , 23 Ollie Devoto

London Irish

15. Andrew Fenby; 14. Topsy Ojo*; 13. Eoin Griffin; 12. Fergus Mulchrone; 11. Alex Lewington; 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Darren Allinson; 1. Tom Court*; 2. David Paice*; 3. Richard Palframan; 4. George Skivington (Captain); 5. Jebb Sinclair*; 6. Luke Narraway*; 7. Blair Cowan*; 8. Tom Guest

Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Jamie Hagan*; 18. Halani Aulika*; 19. Dan Leo*; 20. Sean Cox; 21. Tomas O’Leary*; 22. Shane Geraghty*; 23. Eamonn Sheridan

*Denotes International

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