Planet Rugby

Bath title charge hots up

08th March 2008 14:56

Share:

Alex Crockett try v Newcastle

Top of the pile: Alex Crockett celebrates his crucial try

Bath turned the Guinness Premiership into a three-horse race as they overcame Newcastle 22-11 at The Rec on Saturday.

Stand-in skipper Alex Crockett scored Bath's only try as they took advantage of a lunchtime kick-off to temporarily leapfrog Gloucester and Leicester at the top of the table.

Newcastle contested every scrap of possession and were in touch until the hour mark, but Olly Barkley was again the vital steadying influence for Bath with a conversion and four penalties.

As if the loss of Steve Borthwick, Lee Mears, Matt Stevens and Michael Lipman to the England cause was not disruptive enough, Bath had to fill further gaps in the pack caused by serious injuries to David Barr and Andy Beattie.

With David Flatman still a week or two away from a return and no other loose-head props left at the club, it meant a rare switch to the number one shirt for Duncan Bell against former All Black Carl Hayman.

Danny Grewcock was back at lock after last weekend's win at Bristol coincided with the birth of his daughter.

Following last week's postponement against Wasps, Falcons director of rugby John Fletcher restricted himself to one tactical change, bringing in Jon Golding at loose-head, while injuries to Andy Perry and Andy Long meant recalls for Brent Wilson and Matt Thompson at flanker and hooker.

First blood went to Newcastle after Bell conceded a penalty at the first scrum and Tom May kicked a third-minute goal into the wind from nearly 40 metres.

Bath created a couple of openings but failed to make the final pass tell and twice allowed the visitors to win turnover ball in their own 22.

However, when they infringed at a ruck, Barkley landed a fourteenth-minute penalty from 40 metres.

Five minutes later, they were 10-3 up after a neat move direct from a scrum saw Crockett racing 35 metres to the post for a try converted by Barkley.

It was nearly half-time before Newcastle entered the Bath 22, but the home side worked their way confidently out of defence from the lineout. When the visitors threatened again, John Rudd was forced into touch by former Newcastle wing Michael Stephenson.

But it was Bath who scored again, going in 13-3 at the break after Shaun Berne landed a penalty while Barkley received treatment.

Newcastle had themselves been forced to introduce replacement scrum-half James Grindal at number ten after Steve Jones went off with a leg injury.

Soon after the restart, Joe Maddock had a kick charged down by Rudd, but Stevenson outpaced Tom Dillon for the touch in goal.

Maddock then received lengthy treatment after being laid out trying to field a high ball and was replaced by Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.

Newcastle were rewarded for their tenacity when May kicked his second penalty after 52 minutes, but Mark Sorenson was lucky to escape a yellow card when he flipped Michael Classens judo-style in a tackle.

Barkley punished the dangerous tackle by kicking his third penalty and, as Bath upped the tempo, he added two more penalties to put the game beyond reach, even though Russell Winter claimed a late pushover try for the visitors.

The scorers:

For Bath:

Tries: Crockett

Con: Barkley

Pen: Barkley 4, Berne

For Newcastle:

Tries: Winter

Pen: May 2

Bath: 15 Joe Maddock, 14 Michael Stephenson, 13 Alex Crockett (c), 12 Shaun Berne, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Jonny Faamatuainu, 6 Chris Goodman, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Peter Short, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Duncan Bell.

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Martin Purdy, 19 Zak Feaunati, 20 Mike Baxter, 21 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 22 Tom Cheeseman.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom May, 14 Ollie Phillips, 13 Tom Dillon, 12 Alex Tait, 11 John Rudd, 10 Steve Jones, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ben Woods, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jon Golding.

Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Joe McDonnell, 18 Tim Swinson, 19 Russell Winter, 20 James Grindal, 21 Joe Shaw, 22 Tim Visser.

Referee: Ashley Rowden

Touch judges: Bob Mullis, Roger Baileff

Assessor: Ed Morrison

Television match official: Matt Peters

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand vs AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Preview
Argentina vs South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Preview
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse vs CastresToulouse vs Castres Preview
Saturday , August 23
Brive vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Toulon vs La Rochelle18:30
Bayonne vs Oyonnax18:30
Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Montpellier vs GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Preview
Stade Francais vs Lyon20:45
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 23
Blue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
Western Province vs Lions17:05
Sharks vs Cheetahs19:10
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs Sharks19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , August 23
Northland vs WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Preview
Counties Manukau vs OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Preview
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu vs AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Preview
Bay Of Plenty vs TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Preview
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato vs Taranaki19:35
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury vs Northland19:35
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs Manawatu09:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Currie Cup
Friday , August 22
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 30 - 26 GrenobleClermont Auvergne vs Grenoble Report
Montpellier 16 - 19 Racing Metro ParisMontpellier vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 37 - 15 La Rochelle
Castres 22 - 25 Stade Francais
Bordeaux-Begles 18 - 9 Lyon
Toulouse 20 - 19 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 60 - 19 Eastern Province KingsLions vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 41 - 17 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
Cheetahs 34 - 27 GriquasCheetahs vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Otago 28 - 14 North Harbour
Wellington 25 - 37 WaikatoWellington vs Waikato Report
Canterbury 48 - 9 AucklandCanterbury vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 15
Bayonne 15 - 29 ToulonBayonne vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 34 - 17 PumasSharks vs Pumas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Southland 34 - 23 Bay Of Plenty
Thursday , August 14
Taranaki 9 - 9 Counties ManukauTaranaki vs Counties Manukau Report
More ITM Cup results
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 9
Griquas 24 - 31 SharksGriquas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00