Bath too good for Newcastle Falcons as Finn Russell enjoys winning return

Planet Rugby
Finn Russell kicking at goal for Bath.

Finn Russell kicking at goal for Bath.

Bath took another step towards to the Premiership play-offs after picking up a 28-17 bonus-point victory over struggling Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Friday.

The away side secured the try bonus-point in a rampant first half – Thomas du Toit, Ben Spencer, Joe Cokanasiga and Matt Gallagher all scoring tries – with only Jamie Blamire’s double providing respite for their opponents.

The returning Finn Russell was imperious from the tee, nailing all four conversions to give his side a commanding 28-10 lead at half-time.

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Sam Stuart’s try after the interval was reward for a spirited display from the home side, who stopped Bath from notching any points to add to their first-half haul – but there was no comeback for the crowd to savour, with Bath moving second.

Russell was restored to the starting line-up for the visitors, his first start since picking up a groin injury in the Champions Cup defeat by Exeter last month.

It took less than five minutes for his side to open the scoring, Du Toit scooping up a loose ball and dotting down for his 11th try of the season.

The onslaught continued, with the Falcons unable to stop the yellow tide early on.

Spencer was next to score, taking the ball from a ruck in the 13th minute and weaving his way through the posts, also surviving a TMO review.

The hosts should have cut the deficit seven minutes later when Cameron Hutchison broke through the line to force a two-on-two situation, but his offload to Guy Pepper was sloppy and the chance was gone.

And they were punished in the 28th minute when Cokanasiga went over on the right wing – Russell nailed the tricky conversion to extend the lead to 21-0.

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Blamire finally provided some cheer for the North East faithful nine minutes before the break, scoring from a maul in the right corner, but the usually reliable Brett Connon sent his kick wide.

Bath’s bonus point was secured when Gallagher finished off a superb team move, before Blamire doubled his tally from another maul with the last play of the half to give the Falcons some hope going into the interval.

After a lengthy period of pressure, the hosts finally grabbed their third try through Stuart. Connon added the extras for the first time on the night to reduce the arrears to 11 points.

The reverse fixture was one of the Falcons’ closer games this season, only losing by eight points on the opening weekend of the Premiership, and they were proving a nuisance in the second period here, limiting Bath’s attacking chances and crafting openings of their own.

But as has been the case all season, a lack of ruthlessness and their habit of having to chase the game cost them in the end.

The teams

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Louis Brown, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Cameron Hutchison, 11 Ben Redshaw, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 8 Callum Chick (c), 7 Guy Pepper, 6 Sam Cross, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Tim Cardall, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Freddie Lockwood, 21 James Elliott, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Oli Spencer

Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Will Muir, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben Spencer (c), 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Josh Bayliss

Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Sara Cox, Hamish Smales
TMO: Dean Richards

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