Northampton held on to secure a narrow 13-11 win over Bath the Aviva Premiership.
Saints led 3-0 at the break following an edgy opening 40
Northampton sit fifth in the table as a result of the win, while Bath slip to ninth
Returning England centre Jonathan Joseph couldn’t inspire Bath to victory as their poor record against Northampton in the Aviva premiership continued with a 13-11 loss at the Rec on Saturday
The edginess of the two sides, particularly in the first half was desperately disappointing for the crowd of over 13,000 with the first points eventually coming after 24 minutes when JJ Hanrahan slotted a penalty goal from just outside the 22.
Saints then gained a man advantage after their dominant scrum saw Bath prop Henry Thomas sent to the sin-bin five minutes before the break, however they weren’t able to take immediate advantage, going into the break with their narrow three-point lead.
Ford slotted a penalty in front of the sticks to level the scores after the restart but Luther Burell’s try, converted by Hanrahan, recaptured the advantage for saints, 3-10.
Bath hit back immediately with another three-pointer from Ford before Semesa Rokoduguni’s unconverted score gave the hosts a narrow one-point lead.
Hanrahan’s composed late penalty though earned Northampton Saints the hard-fought victory right at the end, 11-13
It was a fairly even opening few minutes between the two mid-table sides with neither taking control of the game in blustery conditions. JJ Hanrahan finally opened the scoring after 24 minutes, when he slotted a penalty goal from just outside the 22 to give Saints the lead.
Saints had a man advantage after their dominant scrum saw Henry Thomas sent to the bin as Bath concede their fifth scrum penalty after 35 minutes. The prop is the eighth Bath player to see yellow in the Premiership this season, which is more than every other side in the league
Luther Burrell came close late on but Northampton could not take an immediate return on their man advantage, meaning despite their dominance in the scrum, they had only built a narrow three-point lead going into the break.
Saints, with the man advantage and the wind behind them, nevertheless let their lead slip three minutes after the restart as George Ford slotted a penalty in front of the sticks to level the scores.
However, the hosts number 10 was left red-faced when Burrell intercepted his wild pass in his own 22 to run in under the posts. Hanrahan added the extras to give the visitors a seven-point lead, 3-7.
Bath hit back immediately with another impressive penalty from Ford in testing conditions after Ethan Waller was penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.
Fast passing across the Bath backs saw Anthony Watson ship the ball out to Rokodoguni, who broke through the tackle of Saints fullback Ben Foden and dived for the corner. The try took Bath ahead in the game for the first time by a single point, but ] Ford wasn’t able to add the conversion from a tight angle, 11-10.
However, yet another penalty conceded at the scrum by Bath gave Hanrahan the chance to take his side ahead at the Rec, and he converted the chance from 45 metres before the visitors held on for the hard-fought victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Northampton: Ethan Waller
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Tom Ellis, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Dave Wilson, 19 David Denton, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden (c), 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 James Craig, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Ken Pisi
Date: Saturday, December 5
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Graham Hughes