Match Reaction: Harlequins 32-37 Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby celebrated their first win of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season in style with a thrilling victory at Harlequins – thanks in no small part to Joe Cokanasiga.
The powerful winger scored two tries, including a superb individual effort in the corner, but they were holding on at the end in the face of a Harlequins onslaught.
Joe Marler and James Lang both crossed to keep Bath on their toes but the away side managed to hold on for a crucial success.
TRY OF THE MATCH
There are no doubts about this one. Cokanasiga received the ball wide on the left and Harlequins’ defence was scrambling to stop him getting it down.
However, the winger knew he was faced with being bundled into touch until but came up with an ingenious way to score.
He flipped the ball up as the defender approached, waiting for it to almost hit the ground while his body took the impact of the tackle, before reaching out an arm and planting it into the turn for a memorable score.
Bath were already on the up and this swung the momentum firmly in their favour, with Cokanasiga adding a second shortly after the break.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Harlequins could not contain Cokanasiga and his performance was without doubt the difference between the two teams.
His memorable try aside, he was a major problem for Harlequins all afternoon with his rampaging runs, lighting speed and physicality all wearing them down.
He finished with 155 metres made from 14 attempts, including six clean breaks and two defenders beaten while adding his first two tries in a Bath jersey.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
When Cokanasiga touched down for his second try of the match, it looked like Bath were home and hosed – but Harlequins had other ideas.
They kept plugging away and Joe Marler came off the replacement’s bench to burrow over from close range before James Lang did the same with two minutes left.
That set up a thrilling final possession as Harlequins hunted an unlikely win and bath were scrambling to keep them out.
The match went into the 85th-minute when eventually, to Bath’s relief, the ball went dead.
WHAT THEY SAID
Harlequins director of rugby Paul Gustard: “We’re gutted, we didn’t play well. The first 40 to 50 minutes we were poor, second best in every aspect of the game really.
“We felt a real lethargy in the warmup, can’t put a finger on why, players are still scratching their heads why there was a lack of energy.
“Everyone is involved in this, the players and the staff we all need to look at ourselves and get better. It was a nine try game, a lot of line breaks from both teams a lot of pressure on the ball, but our front line defence wasn’t good enough.”
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: “It was heart racing at the end there because The Harlequins were in striking distance, but I felt really proud of the boys, it was a great game of rugby and we got a bonus point away from home.
“It was a fair reflection of the way week we’ve had, we’ve prepared really well for today and it was good to see us execute.
“There was just really good skill set decision making from the boys, that’s how we got a lot of momentum. I think away from home you’ve got to have your set piece right and that was certainly a strength today.”
BEST OF SOCIAL
WHAT. A. FINISH. 😱
The slow-mo of Cokanasiga’s grounding needs to be seen to be believed…
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 15, 2018
Oh my word WHAT a finish from Cokanasiga!!
— Will Kelleher (@willgkelleher) September 15, 2018
Joe Cokanasiga 👀
Some finish that 👏
— Alex Spink (@alexspinkmirror) September 15, 2018
In what world has Cokanasiga got control of that #HARvBAT
— Will Pettit (@WillPettit39) September 15, 2018
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) September 15, 2018
— Jake Gilbert (@jakegilbert77) September 15, 2018