Banahan double helps Bath to victory

Date published: March 5 2016

Bath wing Matt Banahan scored two tries in the first half to set them up as they secured a 25-17 victory over London Irish at Recreation Ground.

A first half double from Matt Banahan was added to by Semesa Rokoduguni as Bath took full control by half-time. Leroy Houston grabbed number four after the break in a routine victory for the hosts.

Alex Lewington's last minute try was a mere consolation for the depleted Irish, who fell to a 25-17 defeat.

Still with just one away win in the last 12 months, Irish came to The Rec against a Bath side who have also failed to perform this season.

Bath took the lead eight minutes into proceedings, Rhys Priestland firing home from the 22. That lasted only a minute though, Brophy Clews' equalling Priestland with his first chance of the afternoon.

Thirteen minutes in, Bath drove themselves over the line to take control of the game.

Banahan found himself crossing the line, with Kyle Eastmond and Leroy Houston doing the hard work in the build-up. The conversion went wide, with Irish just the five points behind.

The visitors reduced that to two points after winning a penalty at the scrum, Clews slotting through from the right hand side of the field.

But it was Bath who continued to do most of the pressing and after finding themselves five metres out, Banahan made it number two.

Replacement Stuart Hooper came off the bench and within a couple of minutes, had played a part in the try through his lineout. A drive from the scrum opened up space for Banahan who crashed down.

The conversion was good this time and Bath continued to move ahead of Irish.

The visitors' Clews was in fine form though, with the youngster making no mistake a minute after Banahan's second.

But in what was turning out to be a wonderful half from the hosts, the third try ensured full dominance. Priestland broke forward at speed, before Banahan and Tom Homer combined. The latter fed the ball through to Rokoduguni who grabbed number three after managing to avoid the touchline.

Bath started the second half well and at one point found themselves right in the corner, but eventually lost possession after Irish managed to turn over possession.

In truth, the start to the second 40 was very quiet, with neither side able to make too many ventures into the opposing 22's. But it always looked like Bath would get the next try, and that's exactly what they did.

Houston it was who went over in the corner, with Banahan again playing a massive part in the build-up. His break saw the ball move at speed, finding Eastmond who opened up the space for Houston.

Bath continued to press in order to add more gloss to the scoreline, but it was Irish who finished with a flurry.

First a Greig Tonks penalty took Irish up to double figures, before a try in overtime made the scoreline more favourable. Lewington went over right at the death, with Tonks' conversion hitting the posts and surrendering the bonus point.

The victory for Bath made it 12 wins in 13 against the Exiles.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Banahan 2, Rokoduguni, Houston
Con: Priestland
Pen: Priestland

For London Irish:
Try: Lewington
Pens: Brophy Clews 3, Tonks

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Beno Obano, 18 David Wilson, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Guy Mercer, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Horacio Agulla

London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Luke Narraway (c), 6 Ian Nagle, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Smallbone
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Grashoff