Third win in row for Bath
Tries from Tom de Glanville and Ruaridh McConnochie helped Bath secure their third straight Gallagher Premiership win since lockdown in an 18-3 victory at Northampton Saints. Saracens beat Gloucester 36-20, Leicester saw off London Irish 13-7 and Worcester defeated Harlequins 29-14.
Bath squeezed past a desperately disappointing Northampton team and into the Premiership play-off places thanks to a familiar name.
Full-back Tom de Glanville – son of Phil, who represented Bath through three decades – scored the opening try after an hour of turgid rugby, bravely absorbing a high tackle in the process that resulted in him suffering a head injury. Ruaridh McConnochie then pounced on a loose pass to run in their second in virtually his first act after coming on as a replacement.
It was a victory merited for Bath’s dominance up front, where they won five scrum penalties, as Northampton slumped to their fifth consecutive home defeat. They were criminally wasteful in Bath’s 22, seemingly always in search of the impossible offload and failing to earn the right to go wide. Bath were little better in possession, but Stuart Hooper, the director of rugby, was nonetheless delighted with securing a third consecutive victory since the restart. “Northampton are a fantastic attacking team and the boys put their bodies on the line,” Hooper said. “The way they worked for each other was absolutely outstanding.”
Certainly there was no evidence that summer rugby results in riotous entertainment, although there were a few aspects to pique the interest of the watching Eddie Jones. Loosehead Beno Obano was a key part of a dominant Bath scrum opposite 108-cap All Black Owen Franks. He also showed up well in defence and was thunderous in the carry. Replacement tighthead Will Stuart was similarly impactful. Courtney Lawes was typically industrious and one of the few Northampton players who seemed to value retaining possession.
Time and again, both teams manoeuvred themselves into the opposition 22, but each time the move fizzled out. Offloads went to ground, blind alleys were pursued and communication broke down.
There were occasional sparks of interest in the first half. Northampton hooker James Fish produced one peach of an offload. The giant Taqele Naiyaravoro handed off 6ft 5in, 18st Mike Williams like he was a wasp around a picnic. Ahsee Tuala opened up space with a step off either foo,t only for Naiyaravoro to be smashed in touch by Josh Matavesi, who was getting his own back after being on the receiving end of a well-timed Fraser Dingwall tackle.
The main point of interest was JJ Tonks’s yellow card. The Northampton flanker went low on Zach Mercer and started lifting him, only for Teimana Harrison’s secondary tackle to flick the Bath No8 upside down. Christopher Ridley correctly adjudged it no more than a yellow.
The scoring was restricted to a penalty apiece; Bath, kicked by Matavesi for his first Premiership points with the boot, after a scrum penalty and Northampton through Dan Biggar. The second half continued in similar fashion. Bath got deep into the 22 only to be penalised for a side entry at a ruck, while Northampton had three driving mauls repelled by Bath. Tempers were starting to fray as Bath took exception to Northampton’s excessive celebrations of a knock-on; moments after Bath had done likewise from a scrum penalty.
Finally, there was something legitimate to cheer about just before the hour mark. Replacement scrumhalf Ben Spencer sent a perfect
On the run: Josh Matavesi breaks to set up a second-half try for Tom de Glanville bomb down the throat of Tuala, who spilt under pressure from replacement flanker Miles Reid. At last, Bath had Northampton scrambling and they worked the ball left to where De Glanville finished skilfully in the corner despite a double tackle from Tommy Freeman and Rory Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s tackle ended up around his head and probably would have been a yellow card in any other circumstance, particularly as De Glanville had to be replaced. “We are making sure we look after Tom the best we can,” Hooper said. “He took a hit, credit to him for scoring the try, but thoughts are with him.”
The second try was also the product of a mistake as Sam Matavesi spilt a loose pass in midfield that McConnochie pounced on in a flash. Fellow replacement Rhys Priestland converted and added a penalty to make the game safe.