Harlequins climbed to sixth place in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP after their forwards’ superior wet-weather game sank Bath.
Appalling conditions dictated the course of a stamina-sapping Twickenham Stoop encounter, but Quins prevailed through three Adrian Jarvis penalties.
Fly-half Jarvis missed with three other shots at goal, yet Quins never looked like relinquishing a hard-earned lead as they claimed a sixth Premiership win of their first season back in the top-flight.
Bath, in contrast, proved a major disappointment – despite welcoming back captain Steve Borthwick for his first appearance since undergoing knee surgery in September.
The visitors sorely missed suspended England forwards Danny Grewcock and Lee Mears – and they lacked direction during a game which saw Olly Barkley contribute their only points through a second-half penalty.
While Bath remain in the Premiership’s bottom third following eight defeats from 13 starts, Quins edged closer to the title play-off zone by confirming their continued revival under rugby director Dean Richards.
Quins half-backs Andrew Mehrtens and Andy Gomarsall both missed out through injury – Jarvis and Danny Care were their respective deputies – while centre Jordan Turner-Hall made his first appearance for seven weeks.
Any ambitions either team had of producing an open, attacking game were soon snuffed out by a sodden playing surface which made walking, let alone running, treacherous.
Prolonged heavy rain drenched the ground, and an inevitable forward slog ensued – but Quins played the conditions far better than their opponents.
Jarvis slotted an opening third-minute penalty, and Quins were unlucky not to extend their advantage when Care chased a speculative kick behind the Bath line and appeared to have claimed the touchdown. Referee Dave Pearson ruled otherwise.
Bath, despite the confidence-booster of a comfortable New Year’s Day victory over Wasps, spent most of the opening period entrenched in their own 22.
The visitors struggled to clear possession, with full-back Barkley enduring a particularly testing afternoon, and Jarvis doubled Quins’ advantage through a second penalty strike seven minutes before the break.
Quins boss Richards made a half-time substitution, replacing wing David Strettle – who scored three tries against Newcastle five days ago – with Ugo Monye.
Bath head coach Steve Meehan opted against making any interval switches but waited only another 10 minutes before introducing three of his substitutes as lock Peter Short, scrum-half Nick Walshe and back-row forward Gareth Delve all joined the action.
Barkley cut the deficit through a 55th-minute penalty; yet attacking opportunities remained at a premium, and Quins missed a golden chance to extend their lead when Jarvis sliced his third penalty from five attempts.
Bath were their own worst enemies, and prop David Barnes increased his team’s escalating difficulties when he received a yellow card following a line-out infringement which saw the visitors temporarily reduced to 14 men.
Bath grew increasingly desperate in their attempts to keep Quins out – and as in the first-half, they found themselves under relentless pressure.
With Barnes off, Bath’s scrum struggled to cope against a consistent Quins set-piece effort – and when Jarvis completed his penalty hat-trick 15 minutes time there appeared no way back for the west-country club.
Meehan continued to ring the changes, and Bath’s best chance came with just two minutes remaining through a line-out five metres from Quins’ line.
But there was an air of predictability about the end product, as they made a mess of quality possession – and Quins comfortably cleared the danger and secured a well-deserved triumph.