Bath 21-19 Newcastle: Mike Ford’s men battle to crucial win against Falcons on Friday night
Bath narrowly overcome Newcastle at the Rec on Friday evening
The hosts led 12-7 at the break thanks to two Semesa Rokoduguni tries
Three Tom Homer penalties in the second half secured the slender victory
Bath kept their hopes of Champions Cup rugby next season alive with narrow win at the Recreation Ground.
The Falcons had a seven-point lead thanks to Rob Vickers score after 12 minutes but two tries from Semesa Rokoduguni in the last ten minutes of the half meant Bath came from behind to lead 12-7 at the break.
Huge defensive effort from the hosts in the second half then meant three penalties from Tom Homer was enough for them to hang on for the win.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s losing bonus-point takes them to 22 points, nine ahead of bottom of the table London Irish
The Falcons started the game with an attacking impetus and were rewarded for their ambition and dominance when Rob Vickers bashed over for his fifth try of the season after 12 minutes. Mike Delany then added the extras to give the visitors an unexpected seven-point lead.
Delany then missed a chance to extend Newcastle’s lead with a simple kick before the hosts struck back with Semesa Rokoduguni scoring one of the most bizarre, inventive and amusing tries you’ll see. A wayward cross-fielder from Ollie Devoto drew groans but the former British Army man Rokoduguni nudged the ball forward football-style and collected the loose ball to dive over to the right of the posts. Homer then added the extras to make it 7-7 with 30 minutes gone.
Rokoduguni then strolled in for a second try two minutes before the break. The England winger finished off simply after Francois Louw had smashed through to open up the space. Homer though couldn’t add the extras as the hosts, despite having far less territory and possession, took a 12-7 lead into the break.
Newcastle began the second half as they started the first, very much on top, and narrowed the deficit when Delany slotted a simple penalty after 48 minutes, 12-10.
Homer then again extended the hosts lead with a penalty before Delany again reduced the gap to two points with another successful three-pointer.
Bath’s Louw was lucky to avoid being red carded after he literally throws Michael Young to the ground judo-style from around the neck. The referee instead only showed yellow just before the hour mark. Delany moments late recaptured the lead for the Falcons with a kick from the tee, 15-16.
The hosts ill-discipline then cost them again as this time Henry Thomas saw yellow for a no-arm tackle, which is the props third of the season. Bath were now down to 13 men and four points behind after Delany added yet another three pointer, 15-19.
Despite being down to 13, Homer once again reduced the gap with his three-pointer before the hosts continued to apply some continuous pressure in the Falcons 22, which led to replacement hooker Scott Lawson being sin-binned for a no armed tackle only minutes after coming on.
After the reverential silence, Homer then slotted the resulting penalty to put Bath narrowly in front, 21-19. Delany almost got a dream winner for the visitors but his drop-goal edged wide of the right post with four minutes remaining.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bath: Semesa Rokoduguni
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jeff Williams, 10 Ollie Devoto, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Max Clark, 23 Horacio Agulla
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Giamba Venditti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Calum Green, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Taione Vea, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Michael Young, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Belisario Agulla
Date: Friday, March 18
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey, Andrew Small
TMO: Stuart Terheege