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Henson stars in Bath win

Gavin Henson chipped in with 13 points as Bath got back to winning ways in the Aviva Premiership with a 23-14 triumph over Newcastle Falcons.

Former Wales international Henson converted tries from Stuart Hooper and Jonathan Joseph, as well as splitting the posts with two penalties and knocking over a drop goal.

It was the Falcons who drew first blood, with Mark Wilson scoring the first try after 34 minutes, before Bath took control and Sinoti Sinoti's 74th-minute touchdown came too little too late.

Henson's final penalty denied Newcastle a bonus point they might well have deserved.

The visitors dominated in the first quarter, using strong-running Adam Powell to good effect in the centre, but they found the Bath defence in combative mood.

At the other end there was an anxious moment when Simon Hammersley and Mark Wilson let the ball bounce between them but Joseph could not quite take advantage.

Bath's own aggressive defensive effort came at the cost of infringements but Falcons fly-half Juan Pablo Socino missed two very kickable penalty chances in as many minutes around the quarter-hour.

Newcastle's problems were chiefly in the scrum and Bath cashed in by forcing two penalties themselves - and another from the resulting catch-and-drive, with the unrelenting pressure eventually bringing a 27th-minute drop goal for Henson.

Lock Callum Green claimed a try from a line-out drive soon after but the TV match official advised he had been held up.

Although the Newcastle scrum was driven into touch, they retained the put-in at the line-out and this time the catch-and-drive worked perfectly for Mark Wilson to get the touchdown. Socino's conversion was good and the visitors led 7-3.

There was still five minutes to play before the break, however, and Bath showed how effective their own maul could be when Leroy Houston caught at the tail and Hooper manoeuvred his way over. Henson converted to send Bath in 10-7 ahead.

Soon after the restart, Houston combined with the whole Bath front row as Nathan Catt broke clear but Hooper was hauled down and the attack was snuffed out by the scrambling Falcons' defence.

They had to be alert again to deny Olly Woodburn in the right corner after Bath switched play from left to right, finally bringing their wings into play.

On 53 minutes, Woodburn surged down the touchline breaking a tackle and, for once, the ball was swiftly away from the ruck. It still needed Joseph's searing pace though, as the England centre carved through to the line, with Henson converting.

One of the biggest cheers from the crowd of nearly 13,000 was for the appearance off the Bath bench of back row Matt Garvey for his first appearance of the season following ankle surgery.

There had been very little seen of the Newcastle attack in the second half and a succession of penalties brought an inevitable yellow card for Socino. Henson kicked the 65th-minute penalty for a 20-7 lead.

That finally brought a response from the visitors and the charging Alesana Tuilagi was halted from a tapped penalty before Scott Lawson burrowed over the line in the other corner.

To his dismay, the TMO again ruled the ball had not been grounded but his side mauled away for nearly five minutes before winger Sinoti Sinoti was credited with the try.

Bath finished on the attack, winning a penalty at a five-metre scrum and Henson denied Newcastle a bonus point.


From Belfast Telegraph