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Match Reaction: Harlequins 35 Bath Rugby 28

Veteran Harlequin Nick Easter is hopeful his side’s nervy win against Bath Rugby will prove to be the catalyst to kick-start the London club’s end-of-season charge for the play-offs in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Easter was the star of the show for Harlequins as they scored four tries – two either side of the break – thanks to a double from Charlie Walker and solo scores from James Horwill and Harry Sloan.   

At one stage Harlequins led 35-6 but three late scores from Bath through Semesa Rokoduguni, Amanaki Mafi and Jeff Williams, plus a late penalty from full back Tom Homer delivered the unlikeliest of losing bonus points for the visitors.  

Despite the late set-back, Easter refused to be downcast by Harlequins performance as they returned to winning ways at the Stoop.

“For 50 minutes it was exceptional, we held on to the ball and looked very, very dangerous. We also kept a very gifted Bath attack out that we knew were very dangerous,” said Easter.

“We seemed to be on the wrong end of the referee at the end and we need to look at that and try and improve. Some of the decisions left us scratching our heads but that’s no good, we need to deal with it and improve.

“We dug in and what you saw was a side that hasn’t won many in the last five or six games and we got over the line and hopefully it wills really kick-start something now.

“Some of our play was exceptional, we know what makes us tick with the ball in our hands, getting tempo in the game, and we were also helped by getting some players back tonight.”

Bath boss Mike Ford was upbeat at the final whistle, highlighting some improvements in his struggling side’s showing despite their lacklustre opening 50 minutes.

He said: “I’m very proud of the lads how they came back into it and got the losing bonus point. We shot ourselves in the foot though and the sin-binning just before the break cost us 24 points.

“We also gave away a couple of loose passes which led to tries and that’s also very disappointing. We were always on the back foot, we were always behind on the scoreboard and it was difficult for us.

“The positive for us though is at 35-6 down they didn’t give up, we had some shape in the first half and we have regrets about the referee not using the TMO for a possible score in the first half.

“That’s not the reason we lost though, it was because of some sloppy passes and a needless sin-binning unfortunately.

“Our aim is to win our next game, nothing has changed – hopefully we will get some bodies back in the next couple of weeks and we will remain positive. Our aim is to win our last seven games.

“Let’s hang onto the last 30 minutes of this game, let’s build on the character we showed and let’s use that to keep improving.”

Harlequins: Chisholm R, Walker, Lowe (Marchant 56), Sloan, Cheeseman, Botica, Dickson, Lambert (Evans 53), Ward (Gray 70), Sinckler (Collier 55), Merrick (Twomey 62), Horwill, Luamanu, Wallace, Easter (Chisholm J 70)
Not Used: Tebaldi, Lindsay-Hague
 
Bath Rugby: Homer, Rokoduguni, Banahan, Eastmond (Clark 62), Agulla (Williams 52), Devoto, Cook, Lahiff (Catt 62), Webber, Thomas (Wilson 56), Ewels (Houston 52), Day, Garvey, Louw (Mercer 70), Mafi
Not Used: Frost, Evans
 
Harlequins
Tries: Sloan, Walker 2, Horwill
Conversions: Botica 3
Penalties: Botica 3
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Mafi, Williams, Rokoduguni
Conversions: Homer 2
Penalties: Homer 3
 
Referee: Dean Richards

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