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Harlequins 26 Bath Rugby 27

08 May 2015
Harlequins 26 Bath Rugby 27

Ugo Monye signed off at the Stoop with a try-double but it wasn’t enough to secure the veteran winger a fairytale ending as Bath Rugby secured an Aviva Premiership Rugby top-four finish with victory in a thrilling see-saw encounter.

Monye was appearing in a Harlequins shirt in front of his home fans for the final time before retirement, but showed he isn’t finished just yet as he handed the home side an early lead.

Francois Louw went over at the other end but a penalty try gave the hosts a 15-10 half-time lead.

Horacio Agulla put Bath in front shortly after the restart only for the boot of Nick Evans seeing Harlequins retake the lead.

Leroy Houston and Monye then traded tries but George Ford sealed Bath’s victory by holding his nerve with a late penalty.

The result means Bath will feature in this year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals, while Harlequins’ slim hopes of a top-six finish are over.

Harlequins were on the scoresheet wit their first attack of the game. Marland Yarde broke free and fed Danny Care with the tryline in his sights. The scrum-half was brought down but Evans’ long pass out left found Monye who went over.

That was Monye’s 51st Premiership try in a Quins shirt, nudging him one ahead of teammate Mike Brown in the club’s scoring charts, however Evans couldn’t nudge his side further ahead as he skewed the conversion wide.

However Harlequins soon had the smiles wiped off their faces as first Charlie Matthews replaced the injured Nick Easter before Jack Clifford was sinbinned for pulling down a maul.

Bath pushed and pushed for a try with the man advantage but Harlequins stood firm, although Ford did reduce the arrears with a 43m penalty after quarter of an hour following a barnstorming break from Houston.

Clifford returned to action but no sooner was he back did Bath take the lead, Kyle Eastmond finding Houston who ran hard before offloading to Louw to score, Ford adding the extras.

Ford was then narrowly wide with a drop goal attempt after slow ball before Evans closed the gap on the visitors with a penalty in front of the posts after Dave Attwood had deliberately knocked on.

Clifford made amends for his earlier misdemeanour when he made a break, shrugged off Ford and offloaded to Chris Robshaw to gain some territory. It lead to a Quins penalty and Evans kicked to the corner and from the subsequent maul Ross Batty was pinged and referee Greg Garner awarded the home side a penalty try.

Evans converted for a 15-10 half-time lead, although George Robson – also in his final Harlequins game at the Stoop ahead of his move to France – saw his game end early with an injury, replaced by Netani Talei.

Bath made a fast start to the second-half as Agulla ran onto a Peter Stringer pass behind a perfectly-timed hard line from JonathanJoseph to go over, Ford’s kick putting Bath back in front.

Harlequins thought they had replied almost immediately after a kind bounce fell to Monye who in turn fed George Lowe, only for Matt Banahan to hunt the centre down just short of the tryline.

However Harlequins were back in front after Evans kicked a penalty, the Kiwi fly-half nudging his side further ahead with another three-pointer shortly after when Anthony Watson was pinged for not rolling away.

But Bath retook the lead after Nic Auterac punched a hole in the home defence and Sam Burgess found Houston – via a Care juggle – who crashed over, Ford adding the extras.

Monye then once again took centre stage as he demonstrated his finishing skills to dot down in the right corner despite attention from Watson, Evans missing the conversion.

This was Monye’s last action in a Quins shirt at the Stoop as he was replaced by Charlie Walker to a standing ovation.

But Bath spoiled the party as Ford nailed a tough 40m penalty with five minutes remaining to secure a top-four finish, the West Country outfit set to be assured a home semi-final should Saracens lose to Exeter Chiefs this weekend.

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