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Harlequins 21 Bath Rugby 12

16 Nov 2012
Harlequins 21 Bath Rugby 12

Ben Botica once again played the role of hero for Harlequins as his first-half flawless kicking display sent the reigning Aviva Premiership champions to a 21-12 LV= Cup victory over Bath Rugby at The Stoop.

The fly-half scored a last-gasp try and added the conversion to lift Quins to a 31-30 victory over Northampton Saints in their opener last weekend.

And Botica was at it again, scoring five penalties from five attempts before his half-time replacement Louis Grimoldby added six points late in the second half as Quins overcame a dogged Bath display.

Stephen Donald and Tom Heathcote combined to give Bath 12 points but, despite dominating large spells of the second half, the Rec outfit were unable to break down a stubborn Quins defence and weren’t aided with Anthony Perenise and Brett Sharman sin-binned either side of the interval.

With barely 30 seconds on the clock Quins were ahead, Botica landing a penalty from in front of the posts to get the home side on their way.

And after Bath were penalised for not rolling away four minutes later he had doubled the lead, finding the target from the left. 

A piece of Seb Stegmann trickery nearly saw Quins cross for the first time in the ninth minute, the wing's reverse pass finding the hands of the overlapping Tom Williams – but the full-back was unable to connect with his kick ahead. 

Botica found the target with a third penalty on 15 minutes, but World Cup-winning All Black Donald opened Bath's account immediately afterwards at the other end with one of his own to make it 9-3.

The retreating Bath pack were penalised again four minutes later, handing Botica another kickable penalty and he duly obliged to regain Harlequins' nine-point advantage. 

Bath then enjoyed their first foray into the Quins half but were met with stubborn resistance and were soon down to 14 men – prop Perenise seeing yellow after repeated infringements at the scrum. 

But it was Bath who got the next score, Donald landing his second penalty of the evening when Quins were caught offside inside their own 22. 

However Botica responded within two minutes, making it five from five with a perfectly struck effort from the left touchline. 

Perenise returned to the fold with five minutes of the half remaining as Bath defended valiantly against sustained Harlequins pressure – but a Williams knock on gave the visitors one chance to score. 

Bath moved the ball well through the phases as they moved into the Quins 22 for the first time in the half, but some desperate defending on the line was enough to ensure the score remained 15-6 to the hosts at the break. 

Bath started the second half as they had ended the first, building pressure patiently and spending three minutes in the Quins 22. 

Quins stood firm again and play came back for a simple kick in front of the posts, Donald making no mistake to narrow the deficit to six points. 

Play was halted after Donald's kick as Ben Williams received treatment – and the centre was eventually taken off on a stretcher, replaced by last week's match-winner Semesa Rokoduguni

Proceedings were scoreless up until the hour mark with Bath now looking the more serious threat.

But after 15 minutes of pressure without points they settled for a penalty – replacement Heathcote narrowing the gap to just three points with 16 minutes remaining. 

But after replacement Bath hooker Sharman was sent to the bin for a ruck infringement, replacement Grimoldby extended the lead back to six points for Quins with his first points for the club.

And the 22-year-old secured the win for Quins seven minutes from time as he held his nerve from 25 yards to find target – giving them a 21-12 lead which they never relinquished.  

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