Jonathan Joseph scored his first try of the season as London Irish ended a run of three successive Aviva Premiership defeats with a hard-fought 29-22 victory against Bath at the Madejski Stadium.
Halani Aulika powered over to give Irish the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Joseph raced clear six minutes after the break as the hosts recorded their first win of the season.
The win is only the second for Irish against Bath in 11 attempts and a sizeable boost for Brian Smith’s side, who had conceded at least 40 points in each of their last three defeats.
Olly Barkley was on song as the visitors took a bonus point but, despite taking the lead in the first half with Kyle Eastmond’s try, Bath’s indiscipline proved costly – with Steven Shingler scoring 19 points with the boot.
It was Barkley who gave Bath an early lead in the eight minute, scoring a sweetly-struck penalty, before Shingler levelled proceedings almost immediately with a kick in front of the posts.
Barkley put Bath ahead again three minutes later with a simple penalty kick after Declan Danaher was penalised for not rolling away, but it was Irish who were looking the most threatening with the ball.
The hosts enjoyed a good spell of expansive rugby but had to settle for just two Shingler penalties to go ahead, the Welshman finding target twice in quick succession from the halfway line.
Though the hosts had looked more promising in possession in the early stages it was Bath who recorded the first try of the afternoon through winger Eastmond on 28 minutes.
Bath were moving the ball well and after some stout Irish defence Eastmond broke through the backline and found Nick Abendanon out wide, before the full-back passed back inside for the wing go over.
Barkley added the extra points to give Bath a 13-9 lead, before Shingler reduced the gap to one point with a superb kick from out wide.
Irish ended the half in the ascendancy and found a try two minutes before the break, Aulika going over from close-range for his second try in two matches after some great work by the hosts’ pack.
Shingler’s conversion gave Irish a 19-13 lead but Barkley cut the deficit immediately after the break with a well-struck penalty from out wide.
Irish refused to buckle under pressure and responded brilliantly with a spell of possession camped in Bath’s 22, with Shingler and Marland Yarde combining well to release Joseph to score his first try of the season.
Shingler’s conversion gave Irish a 26-16 lead but Bath came back strongly, their forwards bulldozing their way to the edge of the Irish line before a Tom Biggs knock-on denied a certain try.
The hosts suffered a blow on 55 minutes when Jamie Gibson was sent to the sinbin for repeated infringements at the breakdown, but despite their numerical advantage Bath were unable to make it count.
The Irish defence stood firm in the face of heavy Bath pressure in the next 20 minutes, the hosts restricted to just two Barkley penalties as they reduced the lead to four points with ten to play.
The atmosphere was tense and once again Shingler held his nerve from long-range to make the score 29-22, with Bath’s persistent indiscipline at the breakdown proving costly.
The seven-point lead made for a frenetic and nervy finish, with the Exiles keeping their discipline as they soaked up a good spell of Bath pressure to secure the points.