Bath 21-14 Worcester: Mike Ford’s men get back to winning ways with win against Warriors at the Rec
Bath withstood an imposing display from Worcester to record only their second Premiership win in five games.
Ollie Devoto’s first-half try gave Bath the early lead before Worcester edged in front through Cooper Vuna.
Horacio Agulla restored Bath’s lead before the break
The Warriors claimed a losing bonus point courtesy of Tom Heathcote’s kicking.
Bath posted only a third Aviva Premiership win of the season – putting their home struggles behind them to edge to a 21-14 win against Worcester Warriors at the Rec on Sunday.
The hosts had just won just one of their last four home games at the Recreation Ground in all tournaments but bounced back with a gritty win against newly-promoted Worcester.
First-half scores from Ollie Devoto and Horacio Agulla allowed Bath to open up a 15-11 lead at the break, with Cooper Vuna crossing for the visitors.
The second half was much tighter with defences dominating as two Rhys Priestland penalties proved enough for Bath to hang on for the win against a predictably dogged Worcester side.
And although Warriors played well, they are traditionally not good travellers, with their only victory on the road in Premiership Rugby since New Year’s Day 2012 coming when they visited Newcastle in March 2014.
Bath opened the try-scoring after just nine minutes as Guy Mercer managed to claim the ball at the scrum and offload to centre Devoto, who powered over with Priestland converting to give the hosts an early seven-point lead.
Two penalties from Worcester either side of a Priestland penalty meant Bath led narrowly 10-6 heading into the second quarter of the game.
The Warriors then took the lead on the half hour as Vuna commando rolled over for a try, brushing off a last-gasp tackle from Tom Homer, but Heathcote’s touchline conversion sailed narrowly wide, 10-11.
However, Bath would strike back to lead at half-time as winger Horacio Agulla touched down. Ford wasn’t able to convert but the great determination from the hosts to keep the ball alive give them a 15-11 lead at the Rec at the break.
Priestland edged Bath further in front with another penalty but Heathcote against his former employers responded to ensure the gap remained just four points, 18-14.
Wales fly-half Preistland though, in a tense second 40, kicked another penalty after 68 minutes to stretch the hosts lead to seven points.
The hosts then held on for the 21-14 win despite late pressure and possession from the spirited visitors.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bath Rugby: Rhys Priestland
Priestland, who was handed a rare start instead of England fly-half George Ford since his move from the Scarlets earlier this year, drove Bath to victory by cleverly mixing his running and kicking game. He was the one player on show consistently capable of making right decisions under pressure.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 David Denton, 7 Guy Mercer (c), 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 George Ford, 23 Anthony Watson
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Na’ama Leleimalefaga
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Donncha O’Callaghan, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Andy Symons, 23 Tom Biggs
Date: Sunday, December 27
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Craig Maxwell-Keys
TMO: Stuart Terheege