Aviva Premiership: Bath claim 21-19 victory over Newcastle
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 18/03/16 11:07pm
Bath edged to a narrow 21-19 victory over a spirited Newcastle Falcons side who will be far from satisfied with a losing bonus point.
Newcastle have seldom come as close to ending a miserable run of away form in the Aviva Premiership. After 16 defeats and a draw, it is 18 months since they won on the road.
The home side suffered for their poor discipline, being reduced to 13 men at one point in the second half as prop Henry Thomas joined Francois Louw in the sin-bin.
But two first-half tries by Semesa Rokoduguni and 11 points from the boot of Tom Homer proved just enough to open up a 19-point margin in the table over bottom club London Irish.
Newcastle scored a try when prop Rob Vickers battered his way over early on, and fly-half Mike Delany kicked 14 points. But he could not quite find a way to drop a late goal that would have won the game.
Bath looked lively from the off but Homer missed a long-range penalty after five minutes and Newcastle regrouped.
When the home side gave away penalties in quick succession, the visitors were halted first on the catch-and-drive and again at close range before prop Vickers finally forced his way over.
Delany converted the 13th-minute score but missed a simple penalty ten minutes later, Bath skipper Stuart Hooper again the offender.
Shortly afterwards it needed the TMO to rule against a touchdown in the corner by hooker George McGuigan as Bath reacted only just in time to a quick line-out move.
The line-out count of 6-1 against the home team told the story but when Newcastle were next to offend, they paid the price too.
Playing advantage, Ollie Devoto kicked speculatively across field, Rokoduguni could only volley the ball forward but picked up to score. Homer's conversion brought the sides level.
Two minutes before the break, Louw, who had stayed out of a line-out, ran straight over Juan Pablo Socino in midfield before finding Rokoduguni with a simple flat pass which left him a straight run to the corner.
Homer's conversion hit the post but so did Delany's penalty at the other end on the stroke of half-time, leaving Bath with a 12-7 lead.
Delany and Homer exchanged penalties before the Newcastle fly-half chipped over a 40-metre kick.
Worse still for Bath, Louw went to the sin-bin for wrestling an opponent out of a maul by the neck. Even before he sat down, they were penalised again in the loose and Delany pushed Newcastle 16-15 ahead from all of 50 metres.
Bath went down to 13 men when Thomas was yellow-carded for repeatedly killing the ball close to his line and Delany was not about to miss that kick.
Flashes of individual talent from Leroy Houston and Devoto hauled Bath back upfield to force a penalty and Homer made it a one-point game as Louw returned to the action, immediately winning a turnover penalty.
Newcastle also saw yellow when replacement hooker Scott Lawson upended Horacio Agulla and Homer edged Bath back in front at 21-19.
Belisario Agulla, brother of the Bath wing, was just wide with a drop-goal attempt and Max Clark charged down another attempt by Delany. The Newcastle fly-half had one more chance but the kick was low and wide.