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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 25 London Irish 17

Matt Banahan notched his first two tries of the season as Bath Rugby downed London Irish and the winger is hopeful that improving weather conditions can also signal an upturn in fortunes for his side.

Bath had lost five of their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby matches heading into the clash but Banahan's two tries, in addition to scores from Semesa Rokoduguni and Leroy Houston, ensured a 25-17 bonus-point triumph at the Rec.

Three Theo Brophy-Clews penalties was all the Exiles could muster until the 79th minute when a Greig Tonks three-pointer and an Alex Lewington try brought them within eight points but Tonks' last-gasp conversion hit the post as they missed out on a losing bonus point.

The loss means they still sit bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, eight points adrift of 11th-placed Newcastle Falcons, while the search for a second away win in the past 12 months goes on.

With spring on the way, playing conditions were better than they have been for most of the season, something Banahan admitted he enjoyed.

And while the 6ft 7in behemoth was pleased to have got his personal try tally underway for the campaign, he claims that Bath ending their recent poor run was far more important.

"It's nice to walk off the pitch having crossed the whitewash twice but the priority was to get the win as a team – and five points too," said Banahan.

"The better weather conditions have helped massively. I don't think we've had a dry day here at the Rec since the start of the season five months ago. We were able to play with a smile on our faces.

"I'm not a talker. I've tried to lead through my actions on the pitch. That's all I've done over the last two months.
“It's always about the team for me – so it's nice to walk off with five points."

Bath were without England trio George Ford, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph, meaning almost half of their starting back-line was absent.

The west-country side are still ninth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table but now 15 points clear of 12th-placed Irish.

Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night is Bath’s next test and first-team coach Neal Hatley believes they will need to produce an 80-minute performance, after almost allowing the Exiles to snatch a bonus point at the death on Saturday.

“We are disappointed about letting in a try at the end,” said Hatley. “We need to make sure we are more relentless and ruthless for the full 80 minutes. We need also to work on our defensive scrums and line-out defence."
Bath Rugby: Homer, Rokoduguni, Devoto, Eastmond, Banahan (Agulla 62), Priestland (Clark 68), Cook (Mercer 72), Lahiff (Obano 73), Webber, Thomas (Wilson 54), Ewels, Day (Hooper 25), Garvey, Louw (Evans 66), Houston
Replacements not used: Dunn
London Irish: Maitland, Lewington, Hearn (Mulchrone 41), Williams, Ojo, Brophy-Clews (Tonks), Steele (Allinson 71), Smallbone (Halavatau 54), Paice (Cruse 66), Aulika (Court 54), Symons, Stooke, Nagle (Cowan 22), Narraway, McCusker (Sexton 58)

Bath Rugby
Tries: Banahan 2, Rokoduguni, Houston
Conversions: Priestland
Penalties: Priestland
London Irish
Tries: Lewington
Penalties: Brophy-Clews 3, Tonks
Attendance: 13, 502
Referee: JP Doyle

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