Bath fight back to beat Worcester

Date published: September 17 2016

Bath continued with their fine start to the season when they claimed a deserved 37-22 victory over Worcester Warriors at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

Tries from Niall Annett and Dean Hammond saw Warriors take a 17-6 lead into half-time, ripping up a form book that has seen them losing all 11 previous visits to the Rec. 

But second half tries from Anthony Watson, Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni turned the game right around, although a late Perry Humphreys gave Worcester hope. Leroy Houston sealed the points though with a late try, quite a way to mark his return. 

Having won seven on the bounce against Worcester, Bath were presented with a stellar opportunity to continue their winning start to the 2016/17 campaign. 

Houston was thrust straight into the starting line-up after returning in midweek on a short term contract, but it wasn't the first 40 he would have been hoping for. 

It started well for Houston and co, with Banahan almost sparking an early try after pressuring the Worcester back line inside the first couple of minutes. That move led to a George Ford penalty, but his opening effort was wide of the posts. 

From then on though, it was almost all Worcester. They thought they'd notched the first try after a huge scrum, but the referee ruled it out following what seemed to be a loss of possession over the line.

Not that they had too long to wait though, crossing legally two minutes after. Wynand Olivier made the initial break down the line, and even though Tom Homer challenged him strongly, Annett was fed out wide to go over inside the corner. Heathcote converted on his first start of the season. 

Ford cut the gap with his first three points of the afternoon, but Worcester were by far the better side and grabbed try number two courtesy of Hammond. His left wing burst downfield drew challenges, but he shrugged them off and scored. Two more for Heathcote was swiftly followed by a penalty, with Ford seeing the half out with his second penalty, in a half that Worcester dominated for the most part. 

Bath were far better in the second half though, all coming after Heathcote's penalty miss three minutes into it. The hosts had their first try of the match, with Houston playing a major part in it. 

The returning hero made the break forward, with an offload to Watson seeing the left winger going through the posts. A conversion from Ford made it a four point deficit, with Bath thinking they had turned the game around through Rokoduguni. After his double last weekend in the hammering of Newcastle, Rokoduguni thought he had gone over legally, but the TMO adjudged there was a knock-on. 

But the TMO took the side of Bath the next time he was called upon. A huge scrum saw a line-out from the corner, with Banahan getting on the end of Ford's chip forward, claiming in the air and grounding, putting Bath into the lead for the first time. Ford converted, and added another three from a penalty. 

Worcester's wonderful half seemed a long time ago as the second 40 wore on, especially by the time Rokoduguni went over. Banahan made the initial break, before handing the ball to last week's try hero. He muscled his way through as he so often does, Ford putting the hosts 13 points ahead. 

But Warriors still had something in the locker and had Bath hearts in mouths with 10 to play. Humphreys cut the gap after holding off the attempts of Watson, making it interesting again. 

But the home side always looked the more likely to get the next try, and they secured the bonus point with it. A scrum from five metres saw the ball go wide and Houston – who else – sealed the points by diving over. Two more from Ford finished it at 37-22.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Watson, Banahan, Rokoduguni, Houston
Cons: Ford 4
Pens: Ford 3

For Worcester Warriors:
Annett, Hammond, Humphreys
Cons: Heathcote 2
Pens: Heathcote

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Sisi, 6 Charlie Ewels, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Will Homer, 22 Aled Brew, 23 Jeff Williams

Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Tevita Cavubati, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Josh Adams

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Philip Watters, Luke Pearce
TMO: Geoff Warren