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Max Clark try lifts play-off hopefuls Bath past Harlequins

Bath continued their Aviva Premiership play-off push after centre Max Clark's try edged them past Harlequins in a forgettable Recreation Ground clash.

Clark's 63rd-minute try proved enough to see off Quins, keeping Bath in fourth spot behind leaders Wasps, second-placed Saracens and Exeter.

Wales international fly-half Rhys Priestland added five penalties and a conversion as Bath triumphed 22-12, but most of what little attacking adventure there was on show came from Quins.

Wings Tim Visser and Marland Yarde claimed well-worked tries - Visser's touchdown was converted by fly-half Ruaridh Jackson - yet Bath did just enough to thwart them and halt their strong recent run of results.

Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau delivered a trademark accomplished performance ahead of next weekend's RBS 6 Nations game against Scotland, but individual highlights were thin on the ground for Bath.

Quins, meanwhile, remain in the top-six equation, although they will feel that a second trip to the west country in quick succession - they crushed Bristol nine days ago - should have brought another victory.

Bath gave first Premiership starts to centre Rory Jennings and wing Harry Davies, while Faletau returned from Six Nations duty, making a first Premiership appearance since suffering a knee injury on Christmas Eve.

Quins were without the likes of England quintet Mike Brown, Danny Care, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler and Jack Clifford, in addition to Wales centre Jamie Roberts, but former New Zealand Test fly-half Nick Evans began his comeback from injury on the bench.

The visitors dominated early territory and possession but Bath were not seriously tested in defence, and two Priestland penalties during the opening 14 minutes put Bath 6-0 ahead.

Quins continued to press, though, and their reward arrived 11 minutes before half-time after some crisp passing work created just enough room for Scotland international Visser to claim his fifth Premiership try of the season.

Jackson converted from the touchline but Bath responded through a third Priestland penalty to give them a 9-7 interval advantage, yet it was a half chronically short of attacking flair and one when poor handling skills badly let down both teams.

Quins had looked the more adventurous team with ball in hand, and that was rewarded just seven minutes into the second period when they cut open Bath's defence in impressive fashion.

Centre Matt Hooper caused Bath initial problems with a neat pass to hooker Rob Buchanan, who then surged deep into Bath's 22 and found Yarde with a superbly timed inside ball, and the England international finished impressively.

Jackson's conversion attempt hit the post but Quins' greater fluency and attacking intent rocked Bath as they looked to utilise Visser's power and Yarde's pace at every opportunity.

The try was a wake-up call for Bath, who had offered next to nothing in attack, yet they stirred 17 minutes from time when sustained approach play by the forwards finally prised open Quins' defence and Clark powered through a gap from close range.

Priestland added the conversion to put Bath four points clear, while his fourth successful penalty six minutes from time gave the hosts breathing space before another three-pointer two minutes later denied Quins a losing bonus point.

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