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Claassy Bath sink Saints
Meehan's men march back to the top after home victory
Two second half tries from Michael Claassens helped Bath climb back on top of the Guinness Premiership as Northampton were beaten 25-14 at the Rec.
In a tightly-contested and scrappy affair, a brace from the South African No.9 proved decisive as Bath leapfrogged both Sale and London Irish to claim top spot.
Saints enjoyed plenty of possession but did not possess a cutting edge sharp enough to open up the home defence until the final minute when lock Juandre Kruger crossed in the corner.
Bath's first try came in the second minute when wing Matt Banahan latched on to Butch James' grubber kick. The South African fly-half's accuracy was wayward with the conversion attempt though and Bath remained 5-0 ahead.
Stephen Myler sent a long-range penalty wide at the other end for the visitors but made amends with a more straightforward effort on 14 minutes, only for James to reply almost immediately.
The lively Northampton pack, which included England international Dylan Hartley, was held just short of the line on 19 minutes but when Bath prop David Flatman was penalised at the resulting scrum, Myler made it 10-6 with his second penalty.
James responded with a penalty after the visitors were offside at a ruck but there was a scare for Bath when the Springbok had a clearance kick charged down at the other end.
It was only Joe Maddock's alertness that denied Myler a try as Saints began to threaten Bath's unforgiving defence.
Full-back Jack Cuthbert, struggling to field Myler's high kicks in the biting wind, fared no better when called up for a long-range kick on the half-time whistle.
Myler pulled the score back to 13-9 soon after the restart with a long-range penalty, but Bath latched on to a fumble by Saints skipper Bruce Reihana to work their way within striking distance of the visitors' line.
Saints conceded two scrums and a free-kick before Claassens dived through a gap and stretched out an arm to score.
James could not convert but Myler was finding it no easier and missed a penalty, to leave his side nine points adrift going into the last 15 minutes.
After Bath introduced Justin Harrison and Daniel Browne off the bench they suddenly had the advantage up front and it was Northampton who were struggling for parity.
It was no surprise then that Claassens claimed his second try on 74 minutes off the back of a scrum, James converting.
The home supporters were urging their side on for the bonus point try, but Saints came back with a consolation for Kruger after he collected Myler's chip.
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|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle Falcons|
|15:00||Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|13:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com