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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 19-27 Harlequins

Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 19-27 Harlequins

Bath Rugby produced a roaring comeback but still came up short as Harlequins began their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign with an impressive triumph at the Rec.

Fourteen points from the boot of Demetri Catrikilis and tries from Charlie Walker and Alex Dombrandt ultimately did the damage for the Londoners in a 27-19 victory.

But in addition to Jack Walker’s early score for the hosts, replacement Ross Batty twice thundered over – in his first game at the Rec since February – to set up a grandstand finish before James Lang slotted a final penalty to secure the win for Quins.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Demetri Catrikilis wasn’t perfect from the tee but his four penalties and a conversion were pivotal in keeping the scoreboard ticking over, providing the cushion Harlequins ultimately needed to stave off their hosts.

No-one can begrudge Catrikilis success after the horrific throat injury in just his second Quins game since joining from Montpelier last September that had him fearing for his life, then sidelined for five months.

A first start of this campaign, after sparingly playing towards the back-end of last term, reaped rewards for the South African-born fly-half and hopefully he can now start to focus on becoming the natural replacement for cult hero Nick Evans that the Londoners hoped he would be upon arrival.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

The returning Ross Batty’s two scores after coming off the bench had brought Bath right back into the match with seven minutes remaining – suddenly only trailing by five points.

Quins were on the ropes with their hosts looking to put further pressure on but when they were pinged for holding on, the visitors gleefully called for the kicking tee.

Replacement James Lang lined up the penalty and bisected the uprights to extend the advantage to two scores and essentially final kill off Bath’s hopes of a memorable fightback.

TRY OF THE MATCH

A tense, scrappy first half came to life in spectacular style just before the break as Charlie Walker finished off a superb Quins try for an 11-5 interval lead.

A lightning counter-attack saw Alex Dombrandt find Aaron Morris out wide and the full-back grubbered forward, which allowed Walker to demonstrate his pace and slide on the ball over the whitewash.

WHAT THEY SAID

Harlequins acting head coach Mark Mapletoft said:

“It was obviously frustrating to concede three tries and there is plenty to work on before Newcastle at home next week.

“But we were pleased with our performance and with the way we took our chances.

“We’re all for encouraging different pathways into the game.

“One of the all-time greats in that regard was Nick Easter. He came into the game later and we think Alex Dombrandt has got a lot of similar attributes to Nick.”

Quins winger Charlie Walker added:

“We knew they had put a strong side out but it’s a different group of boys and a chance for us to put our hand up.

“We made it hard for ourselves at times with a couple of sin-bins but credit to the boys, we held on and wins away from home are hard, so it was a good one.

“Discipline is always a work-on for us because we’re killing ourselves with penalties, so we’ll keep going with that.”

Bath general manager Stuart Hooper said:

“I thought were things we can work on but the point of this competition is how quickly can we learn.

“There were some incredibly disappointed players in the group at the end there but that’s ok – we came into this competition with the objective of working on certain aspects of our game.

“We’ve got a good bunch of lads and I think they are ready to learn. I was pleased with aspects of the tight side of the game.

“I thought the debutants did well. Ruaridh [McConnochie] didn’t have a huge amount of ball but when he did he got stuck in and was a menace at the breakdown.”

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