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Bath climb closer to the top spot with win against Harlequins

13 Oct 2007
Bath climb closer to the top spot with win against Harlequins

Bath leapfrogged Harlequins into second place in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP, spoiling Chris Malone’s return to the Recreation Ground.

Centre Shaun Berne was the matchwinner with 15 points, including one of three tries as Bath notched up their fourth win in five games.

Malone’s successor as Bath playmaker, young Ryan Davis, caught the eye with a mature performance but Malone himself was off target with a couple of early penalty attempts and looked unusually hesitant.

Five of the Bath players who came off the bench to secure a precious away win at London Irish – Nick Abendanon, Michael Claassens, David Barnes, Paulica Ion and Michael Lipman – were named in the starting XV by head coach Steve Meehan.

Visiting boss Dean Richards, meanwhile, kept faith with the team that had squeezed out a 24-18 win over Bristol.

Quins, with only one win at the Rec since 1999, came into the game in second place despite having lost four away games from the end of last season.

Their opponents were looking to secure an unbeaten home sequence in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP going back to last November.

Although Bath had the majority of possession in the first quarter, Malone’s tactical kicking helped keep them at bay. But when Bath infringed at a ruck, leaving Malone with an easy kick, he was off target.

Bath came back with a break down the left but Ian Davey was dragged down by Ugo Monye. The home side were eventually rewarded with a Berne penalty from 45 metres in the 27th minute and added to their score just two minutes later.

Superb approach work by the backs forced Quins to give away a penalty on the 22 but Bath played on with the advantage and lock Peter Short barged through two tackles to score in the corner, Berne adding the conversion.

With Bath getting the better of the scrums and winning line-out balls unopposed, a second try was not long in coming. This time it was Michael Stephenson steaming off his wing to cut through for an unconverted score which opened up a 15-0 lead.

The visitors hit back with an opportunist try, scrum-half Steve So’oialo taking a quick tap and speeding to the line to give Malone a simple conversion.

Quins had a lucky escape just after half-time when fly-half Davis broke away and was held up on the line.

But, as it started to rain, Davis spilled a pass and Bath infringed at the ruck, allowing Malone to reduce the deficit to five points.

Not much had been seen of the Quins backs at this stage, but when the ball was finally moved along the line, centre Hal Luscombe was taken man-and-ball by Tom Cheeseman.

Bath took advantage of a quickly tapped free-kick after 52 minutes which then became a straightforward penalty goal for Berne when prop Barnes was high tackled.

Quins pressed hard with a series and pick and drives on the Bath line but eventually Malone was caught in possession and the chance to swing the game was lost.

Bath regained the initiative and Davis sent Berne to the line for the third try with a well-timed pass.

Berne converted to take Bath 25-10 ahead and they held out comfortably to deny the visitors even a losing bonus point.

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