Matt Carraro breaks, but all eyes were on Bath's Sam Vesty
3 September 2011, 09:56 pm ::
Vesty runs the show as Bath storm Kingston Park
It was the Sam Vesty show at Kingston Park as the Bath fly-half rattled up 17 points from four penalties, a drop goal and a conversion and engineered the game's only try as his side rumbled to a comfortable 22-9 Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Newcastle.
Bath's pack dominated the game and Newcastle did themselves no favours by conceding lots of penalties, mainly at the breakdown, and an early try from Matt Carraro from which they never really recovered.
The match did not start well for the Falcons - they made a mess of their first line-out to concede possession and were then penalised at the first scrum for taking it down. They also conceded the opening try after just eight minutes when Vesty sliced through the Falcons midfield and delivered a perfectly-timed pass for Carraro to score under the posts. Vesty made it 7-0 with the conversion.
It took Newcastle a while to get going before a catch and drive and a crossfield kick from Jimmy Gopperth stretched Bath and a penalty resulted, which Gopperth landed in the 12th minute for 7-3. Ben Williams banged through on the crash ball enough to put Newcastle on the back foot and Vesty clipped over a 30-metre drop goal for 10-3 in the 15th minute.
Back came Newcastle, who now looked far more lively and some steady forward drives led to a penalty for offside and Gopperth made it 10-6 in the 18th minute. He missed out with a 55-metre shot shortly afterwards and Vesty also missed much simpler chance with both sides straying offside in a tight midfield struggle.
But he did stretch Bath's lead to 13-6 with a penalty in the 33rd minute. The award came much to Newcastle's disgust as it followed a crooked line-out throw by Bath which referee Martin Fox missed, as he did with a late tackle on Luke Fielden as the winger kicked through.
Newcastle had every right to feel aggrieved and it showed as they tore into Bath. Alex Tait and Chris Pilgrim both went close in a searing attack which rather fizzled out but led to a penalty which Gopperth knocked over for 13-9 in the 37th minute.
Gopperth had another crack from 50 metres right on half-time but he was no more successful this time as he had been earlier on from 55 metres.
Again Newcastle failed to look after the ball at the start of the second half and compounded the error by giving away another penalty for going in at the side. Vesty easily made it 16-9 and then 19-9 after Newcastle were penalised again at the scrum in the 57th minute. And it was Vesty who put the game beyond Newcastle's reach with his fifth penalty in the 63rd minute as the Falcons struggled to break the Bath forwards' stranglehold on the match.