Rhys Priestland’s late penalty secured a 32-30 win for Bath over Northampton Saints on Friday at The Recreation Ground.
The lead changed hands multiple times in the final stages of the match and Northampton looked to have won it late on, but had to settle a losing bonus point in the dramatic final stages.
It was the hosts who struck first through Paul Grant, as the Premiership debutant barged his way through a number of bodies to touch down though Rhys Priestland was culpable of missing a decent chance from the tee.
Northampton’s Steven Myler fared better, getting the Saints off the mark with a penalty in front of the posts before handing his side a narrow advantage midway through the first half with another well-taken kick.
That spurred on the hosts though and straight from the restart scored their second try through Semesa Rododuguni on his 100th appearance for the club, and Priestland made no mistake with the extras this time around.
From that point, both sides struggled to make too many yards and just as it looked like there would be a converted try difference between the sides at the break, Bath scored their third of the encounter as Northampton’s pack crumbled at the scrum, leaving referee Wayne Barnes no option but to award the penalty try with Priestland converting.
On the stroke of half-time, Myler made it three from three from the tee for him, but the gap between the sides remained in double figures at the break.
After the restart, Bath continued their dominance with a Priestland penalty before the game descended into a contest of few chances as the hosts preserved their dominant lead.
But Saints went on the charge midway through the second half and two quickfire tries from Ben Foden and Api Ratuniyarawa, both converted by Myler saw Northampton take the lead.
There were still plenty more twists and turns to come with Chris Cook going over for the hosts’ bonus-point try, but Northampton looked to have won it with minutes remaining through Jamie Gibson, who went over to send the visiting fans into raptures.
However, Priestland had other ideas and with virtually the last kick of the game, won the match from the tee by two points.
Tries: Grant, Rokoduguni, Penalty Try, Cook
Cons: Priestland 3
Pens: Priestland 2
Yellow Card: Palma-Newport
Tries: Foden, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson
Cons: Myler 3
Pen: Myler 3
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (cc), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Francois Louw (cc), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 David Denton, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (c), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Geoff Warren