Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Bath post overdue Premiership victory

Published 27/12/2015

Ollie Devoto was among the tries as Bath beat Worcester
Ollie Devoto was among the tries as Bath beat Worcester

Bath posted only a third Aviva Premiership win of the season - and their first for seven weeks - by edging out Recreation Ground visitors Worcester 21-14.

First-half tries by centre Ollie Devoto and wing Horacio Agulla underpinned Bath's success, although Worcester proved predictably dogged opponents during an often dour struggle.

Wales international fly-half Rhys Priestland kicked three penalties and a conversion, while Worcester replied through a Cooper Vuna try, plus two penalties from former Bath number 10 Tom Heathcote and a long-range Ryan Mills strike.

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.

And it was just what Bath required ahead of next weekend's trip to Newcastle, which is followed by European Champions Cup games against Toulon, either side of meeting Leinster in Dublin, before visiting Premiership leaders Saracens on January 30.

Life will not get easier for Bath any time soon, given the demanding fixture schedule that lies ahead, but they at least collected some overdue Premiership points, despite never remotely hitting top gear.

Bath showed several changes from the side crushed 36-10 by Champions Cup opponents Wasps eight days ago - the club's heaviest European home defeat - as they looked to ignite a Premiership campaign that had barely flickered.

And the early signs were promising, with Bath claiming an opening 10th-minute try after setting up camp inside Worcester's 22, and patient approach work resulted in Devoto touching down.

Priestland's conversion made it 7-0, and after he exchanged penalties with Heathcote, Warriors were forced into a change when lock Darren Barry limped off to be replaced by former Ireland international Donncha O'Callaghan.

Mills then struck a superb long-range penalty to cut the gap to four points, which gave Worcester a chance to build, and they delivered with an impressive try eight minutes before half-time.

Bath were undone on on the blindside of a scrum, and slick passing sent Vuna clear for a try that Heathcote narrowly failed to convert.

The alarm bells were sounding for Bath, and they needed to respond before the break, given Worcester's noticeable rise in confidence. But they had enough in the tank to grind out an interval advantage.

A belated spell of possession ensued deep inside Worcester's half, and when the ball found its way to Agulla, the Argentina international finished brilliantly under pressure as space rapidly ran out.

Referee Tom Foley awarded the try following confirmation from television match official Stuart Terheege, and Bath trooped off at the interval 15-11 ahead.

Priestland and Heathcote each kicked penalties early in the second period, and there was much more urgency after the break as Bath increased the tempo up-front.

Worcester remained firmly in contention, but Priestland completed his penalty hat-trick 12 minutes from time, and Bath were home and dry against a Warriors outfit that offered plenty of commitment, but too little attacking creativity.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph