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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 30-13 Newcastle Falcons

Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 30-13 Newcastle Falcons

Bath Rugby climbed to sixth in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table and are just two points off the top four after an impressive 30-13 defeat of Newcastle Falcons at the Rec.

Falcons defeated Bath 16-8 at Kingston Park back in Round 8 but an efficient performance in the West Country means the hosts have now lost just one of their last five Gallagher Premiership Rugby games.

Conversely, Newcastle have lost nine of their last ten matches in all competitions and conceded three first-half tries to Semesa Rokoduguni, Joe Cokanasiga and Will Chudley before Francois Louw secured the result – and the try bonus – late on.

The boot of Toby Flood and Nemani Nagusa’s first try for the club had kept Falcons in the contest at just 20-13 behind but Bath pulled away and are now looking firmly up the table, while Newcastle stay rooted to the bottom.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Bath hooker Tom Dunn, making his 100th appearance for the club, deserves a mention here for all the important, unseen work he does – in addition to the team-high 11 tackles he made without missing one and the crucial turnover he won in his own 22.

But the man-of-the-match honour goes to powerhouse winger Joe Cokanasiga, who impressed throughout.

Having not played a competitive game of rugby since December 8 due to a knee injury, England coach Eddie Jones implored the 21-year-old to prove his fitness ahead of Round Three of the Guinness Six Nations – and prove it he did.

The winger consistently sent defenders flying, made 60 metres on 11 carries, made two clean breaks, didn’t miss any of his four tackles and also scored Bath’s second try. Quite a comeback.

TRY OF THE MATCH

The try of the match was the aforementioned Cokanasiga score, that was created by another England international returning from injury – Jonathan Joseph.

Semesa Rokoduguni made hard-nosed metres with a powerful carry into the heart of the Falcons defence and a couple of phases later, centre Joseph sized up the defence and sent a pinpoint grubber kick towards the left touchline.

Cokanasiga raced on to it, collected the ball and acrobatically touched down in the corner to avoid going into touch for a try that set Bath on their way.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Francois Louw’s game-sealing try that also wrapped up the bonus point for Bath was important but it was a smaller moment slightly earlier in the match that proved crucial.

Bath had looked in complete control when leading 20-6 at half-time but Falcons started the second half strongly, Nemani Nagusa crossing for his first Newcastle try and Flood’s conversion narrowing the deficit to a single score.

The Falcons were pressing again, with attacking lineouts deep in Bath’s 22 and looked destined to score again, only metres from the line.

But hooker Tom Dunn made a tackle and snatched the ball away in contact, to the delight of the home crowd.

That allowed Bath to clear their lines, regroup and eventually start moving towards the other end of the pitch – when Rhys Priestland’s penalty got them back on track before Louw sealed it.

WHAT THEY SAID

Bath centre Jamie Roberts: “The last ten minutes of the first half, we were quite clinical, we took our opportunities, but the first ten minutes of the second half, we were not clinical in our attacking play.

“Whether that was knocking the ball on in contact or missing the cleanouts in the rucks, it gave them momentum and they’re a tough side to defend against.

“We got the job done, yes, but we’ll have to improve on that performance if we’re going to beat Northampton away next week.

“There was some good stuff, we showed intent, but we’re not quite accurate enough with it at the moment. There’s more positives to work with than negatives.”

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards: “We had the chances to get something out of it.

“When you break it down and look at how much time we spent in their 22 we probably had more time in theirs than they did in ours.

“Either they’re scoring too easily or we’re not taking our chances, and I think it’s probably a bit of both to be honest with you.

“We reined it in to seven points in the second half and had a succession of close-range line-outs, but the fact we didn’t score in that situation probably sums up where we are at the moment.

“They’re the little things which count for a lot, and it’s the understanding of how to nail those on a more regular basis that we’re lacking.”

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Best of luck to the boys today and a special mention to this guy on his 100th 👏🏻 #swiperight

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