Planet Rugby

Bath wrestle past Edinburgh

13th December 2009 16:53

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Nick Abendanon

Tight affair: Bath did enough against Edinburgh at the Rec

Bath managed their first victory in this season's Heineken Cup, but had to fight tooth and nail for a 16-9 win over Edinburgh at the Rec on Sunday.

The end result was never cemented until the final whistle, as Edinburgh - with a potential draw on offer - threw everything but the kitchen sink on the home side's line. Bath fly-half Nicky Little kicked his second penalty in the 72nd minute but the hosts only just held on in a frantic last five minutes.

After three penalties in extra time against the former champions - including one against Michael Classens for passing the ball over the dead-ball line to end the game - several assaults from the visitors were eventually brought to an end by referee Alain Rolland who put Bath's nervous fans at ease.

Bath dominated possession from the kick-off until Nick Abendanon's outside break released Michael Stephenson, and although he was brought down just short of the line, quick ball from the ruck was transferred inside by Little for hooker Pieter Dixon to touch down.

Little's conversion attempot was wide but the Fijian fly-half made amends within a couple of minutes with a penalty after Phil Godman was caught holding on on the ground.

Edinburgh skipper Chris Paterson pulled back three points with a penalty on thirteen minutes following Julian Salvi's late charge on the full-back. And Paterson made it 8-6 after 21 minutes after Bath infringed at a scrum just inside their 22.

There was plenty of width and movement from both sides but the visitors' ambition proved their undoing on the half hour.

Attempting to run out of their own 22 - almost unheard of in this season of aerial bombardments - Edinburgh conceded a line-out and Bath kept possession until quick ruck ball allowed Tom Cheeseman to send Stephenson in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Edinburgh's cause was not helped in the 34th minute when fly-half Godman was shown a yellow card for verbal abuse of referee Rolland.

But Nick de Luca made light of the man disadvantage, intercepting a wayward pass on his own 22 and was only just hauled down by Abendanon.

Paterson then made it 13-9 after Hape was guilty of a high tackle on scrum-half Greg Laidlaw.

Little might have eased the pressure on his increasingly nervous team-mates with a 65th-minute penalty but the long-range effort struck the bar.

At the other end, Edinburgh spurned a kickable penalty but replacement fly-half David Blair, seeking the corner, kicked the ball dead.

Little, who had landed only one kick in five, finally found the target from 45 metres with eight minutes remaining but Edinburgh came straight back with a break down the left by Tim Visser.

Blair took the inside pass only to be hauled down and Bath not only forced a scrum but shoved the visitors off the ball.

Bath defended desperately in the closing minutes, holding off concerted Edinburgh pressure from an attacking line-out in the corner to record a rare - and possibly precious - victory.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Dixon, Stephenson
Pens: Little 2

For Edinburgh:
Pens: Paterson 3

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Michael Stephenson, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Peter Short, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Scott Hobson, 20 Ben Skirving, 21 Scott Bemand, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Tom Cheeseman

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson (c), 14 John Houston, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Scott Newlands, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Alan MacDonald, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Steve Turnbull, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 David Young, 19 Craig Hamilton, 20 Allister Hogg, 21 Ross Samson, 22 David Blair, 23 Jim Thompson.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

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