Third win in row for Bath

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Daniel Schofield

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.

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