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Aviva Premiership: Newcastle Falcons soundly beaten 21-0 by Bath on top flight return
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Newcastle's return to the Aviva Premiership started in uninspiring fashion as failed to register a single point in a dismal 21-0 home defeat by Bath at Kingston Park.
George Ford kicked three penalties and a conversion for Bath, with Anthony Perenise crossing and a late penalty try sealing the win, as the home side failed to master the wind and rain in the season's opener.
The visitors started the brighter of the two sides and, despite the slippery conditions, showed their intentions of wanting to run the ball. That earned them their first chance of points, with Bath's new fly-half Ford taking aim at the posts and rifling his penalty attempt straight through the middle for an early lead.
There was then a lengthy injury delay following some broken play as Falcons centre Jamie Helleur left the field on a stretcher after what looked to be a nasty head injury, to be replaced by Adam Powell.
The relentless rain saw the first half degenerate into a scrappy, aerial battle, with traction on the ground and the ball at a premium, and sideways movement the only direction readily available to either sides' attacking efforts.
Bath full-back Anthony Watson punctuated the scrappiness with a good break and Falcons' debutant prop Kieran Brookes replied shortly after with a solid run in midfield, feeding the ball to wing Noah Cato, who was hauled down inside the Bath 22 in Newcastle's most threatening move.
The Falcons finally found their feet at the scrum, with a penalty awarded after it turned, but fly-half Phil Godman was unable to covert the points in the swirling conditions.
Ford on song
Ford was more successful at the other end, though, with a 40-metre kick just making it over the crossbar after lock Carlo del Fava was penalised for being offside.
Gavin Henson was then met with boos usually reserved for pantomine villains after he replaced the injured Kyle Eastmond from the bench in the final minute of the first half as the clock ticked down on a dismal opening 40 minutes.
The former Wales international's first touch came early in the second half, but was a rather embarrassing netball-style chest pass which went straight into touch.
Newcastle looked much brighter, with a break upfield from the scrum only stopped after a pass to Danny Barnes went to ground, with new man Andy Saull opening up Bath's defence after a quick tap from Blair.
Ford edged the visitors into a 9-0 lead from close to the touchline after Newcastle were penalised following a drive forward from Bath.
Bath then dealt Newcastle a hammer blow as they claimed the game's opening try, with substitute prop Perenise awarded the score after crashing over at the back of a rolling maul.
Bath wrapped up the win with a late penalty try with Ford adding the extras as Newcastle started their campaign in the worst possible way.
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