Bath Rugby held on by the skin of their teeth as Tom Homer’s boot secured victory at Worcester Warriors.
Dean Ryan’s side came close in the final ten minutes through penalty attempts from Ryan Mills and Tom Heathcote, but the Warriors should have been out of sight after a dominant first half.
Bath, with 19-year-old son of Scotland legend Gavin Hastings starting his first Aviva Premiership Rugby game at fly-half, started brightly through Homer’s penalty, only for Worcester to roar back into contention.
Dean Ryan’s side went in 14-6 ahead at half-time after dominating for large periods and their first score came when ex-Bath man Heathcote’s pass unlocked the defence and allowed Chris Pennell to put in Cooper Vuna.
Former Ireland and Lions lock Donncha O’Callaghan then powered over in the corner before Homer struck back with three points for Mike Ford’s men.
Ford’s side looked more like last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists in the second half as tries from Jonathan Evans and another Homer penalty gave them a lead they refused to relinquish.
Livewire scrum-half Niko Matawalu’s tap penalty put Worcester on the back-foot and the home team then gifted Bath a penalty for taking a man without the ball, Homer slotted the points to give Bath a lead on six minutes.
Worcester’s first score came as Nick Auterac got on the wrong side of JP Doyle, who reversed a Bath penalty, which Heathcote put deep into Bath territory.
After claiming the lineout, a flat Heathcote pass unlocked the Bath defence, Wynand Olivier came onto the ball at pace and shifted it to full-back Pennell who sent Vuna over in the corner for an exceptional score, Heathcote converted superbly from the touchline.
With 15 minutes remaining in the half, O’Callaghan found himself in space and after bursting through one tackler, Baldwin recycled the ball and fed to Pennell whose sharp inside ball put the rampaging O’Callaghan over for his first Worcester try.
Heathcote again converted from out wide to make it 14-3.
Bath struck back before the half hour through Homer, who added three points after a Worcester infringement.
Ford’s side turned down kickable penalty just before half-time to kick for the corner, but were stifled by brilliant Warriors defence and Hastings put a drop-goal wide.
Bath centre Max Clark was yellow-carded just after half-time for a clumsy tackle on Bryce Heem, but Carl Kirwan then gifted Homer a shot at goal, which the full-back pushed wide.
With just under 30 minutes remaining, England winger Semesa Rokoduguni brilliantly dispossessed Pennell from a contestable Evans box kick and the winger’s offload then sent the substitute scum-half – who had only been on the field for two minutes – over and Homer nudged the extras from the touchline.
Another dominant scrummage from substitute loosehead Beno Obano with ten minutes to go gave Homer a shot at goal which he duly converted to put Bath ahead for the first time since the 13th minute.
First youngster Mills missed a tough chance to clinch the win with under ten minutes to go and then when awarded a penalty inside the Bath 22, Heathcote pushed another attempt agonisingly wide and Mills failed again in the closing moments with a drop-goal