Mike Ford says he was relieved to come away with a bonus-point victory after watching his Bath Rugby side battle to a hard-fought win over an ill-disciplined but resilient Harlequins.
All eyes were on the bench at The Recreation Ground before the match as Sam Burgess prepared for his first taste of Aviva Premiership Rugby.
However on the pitch it was a solid performance from a cohesive Bath unit that proved to be Harlequins’ undoing – two first-half tries setting the home side on their way.
The visitors were reduced to 12 men in the second period and, as Burgess entered the fray, Bath finally managed to kill off any Quins resistance.
However, while it was Burgess who was the talk of the town before the match it was another Rugby League convert that drew the praise of Ford.
“Kyle Eastmond showed leadership and his work rate off the ball is fantastic now,” he said.
“I put him at ten at the end when Sam came on and he took control and did what he had to do.
“He’s fantastic the way he’s playing at the moment and he’s not got a hangover about not playing for England because he loves being back here playing for Bath.
“We know Quins are a good side and we said before the game that they are probably in a false position.
“I said to the bench if we don’t get five points tonight I’m going to be really disappointed.
“We played well in that first half and scored two good tries and were dominant in that half.
“They had some good possession but they didn’t really break us down in that first half and didn’t really break us down until Nick Easter went through at the start of the second.”
For Quins it is their second successive league defeat after losing to Sale Sharks last time out.
However, Conor O’Shea insists his side will prove the doubters wrong and find their feet sooner rather than later.
“When you come down and you want to win and you're under the pump the whole time it isn’t easy,” he said.
“But they were heroic at times the way they threw themselves around and defended the line with everything they had.
“We have to lick our wounds mentally and physically; there was a lot of energy in the team but it became a game that was so set-piece dominant.
“It’s wrong to say that Bath didn’t dominate in other ways but it came down to us being polarised in the scrum.
“All you can do is lick your wounds; people can write us off but we have competitors in our place.”
Bath Rugby: Agulla (Burgess 63); Rokoduguni, Joseph, Eastmond, Banahan (Woodburn 71); Devoto, Cook (Stringer 54); Auterac (James 62), Batty (Dunn 73), Thomas (Palma-Newport 71), Hooper, Day, Garvey (Ewels 31), Sisi (Fearns 50), Houston
Harlequins: Chisholm; Walker, Hopper, Casson (Turner-Hall 60), Tikoirotuma (Swiel 72); Evans, Care (Dickson 74); Lambert (Marfo 35), Ward (Buchanan 71), Sinckler, Matthews (Twomey 40), Robson, Clifford (Collier 58), Wallace, Easter (Trayfoot 73)
Tries: Banahan, Eastmond, Batty, Houston
Penalties: Evans 2
Referee: Wayne Barnes
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