Harlequins achieved their third A League victory the hard way as they defied the possession and territory statistics to sneak a four-point win over Bath United underneath the Monday Night Lights.
From the home side’s perspective it wasn’t a beautiful performance however sometimes the W is all that matters. Bath United played all of the rugby and had more than double the number of try scoring opportunities however just failed to finish the job against their more experienced counterparts.
Without question both sides will have taken a lot from the match, Harlequins’ defensive effort was of the highest order and Bath United will learn to add a spot more composure when the try line is in sight.
The opening exchanges and possession went in the favour of Bath United. Millfield leaver Adam Hastings slotted two early penalties and the side in blue, black and white looked confident moving forwards with captain Tom Dunn carrying hard.
Harlequins’ opening points came courtesy of a sublime solo score from Charlie Walker. The full-back saw the space, and mismatch on the left-hand wing, and turned on the accelerator adding a delicate chip and collect to finish the score.
Both sides were then evenly matched for the rest of the half and much of the rugby was played within the two 22s. The half ended with the game precariously poised at 7-6 in favour of Harlequins.
The first points of the second forty came from the home side as Luke White, captain of last year’s NatWest Cup winning Bromsgrove 1st XV, nailed a long-range strike off the tee after Bath were found to be holding on.
Follow their opening strike Harlequins then had little discernible possession for the majority of the second-half, instead Bath United pressed and pressed.
The visitors were launching wave after wave at their opponents however it took until the hour mark to finally deliver the score. With a man advantage Bath United used the width well and Liam Forysth touched down on the far right-hand wing. Adam Hastings’s conversion was a cracking one and it gave them the lead, 13-10, for the first time in the game with less than 20 minutes to play.
A further three points looked to have delivered Bath United the margin that they’d been gunning for however the home side weren’t done yet and when they were back to a full compliment capitalised on a basic knock-on.
The forward pack’s powerful scrummage led to Kyle Sinckler driving over and Tim Swiel added the conversion. It was Harlequins only foray into Bath’s half and importantly grasped the lead back, 17-16, with 9 minutes to play.
Shortly after Swiel added another three-points after Bath United went in at the side and then the visitors found themselves chasing a game that they looked to have had in their grasp.
With the clock running down Bath United had one last attempt to take the match. A scrum penalty against the head delivered them with the field position that they required however the final lineout missed the target and Kane Palmer-Newport’s knock on gave Harlequins the opportunity to clear their lines for the last time. Referee Phillip Davies’ full time whistle was a welcome sound for Harlequins and one that hurt Bath United.
Full Time: Harlequins A 20-16 Bath United
Harlequins: 15. Charlie Walker 14. Henry Cheeseman 13. Matt Hopper (C) 12. Harry Sloan 11. Sam Aspland-Robinson 10. Luke White 9. Calum Waters 1. Seb Adeniran-Olule 2. Joe Gray 3. Matt Shields 4. Stan South 5. Kieran Treadwell 6. Victor Keunen 7. Beau Robinson 8. Archie White Replacements: 16. Rob Buchanan 17. Owen Evans 18. Kyle Sinckler 19. George Merrick 20. Dino Lamb-Cona 21. Tito Tebaldi 22. Tim Swiel 23. Robbie Nairn
Bath United: 15 Darren Atkins 14 Jeff Williams 13 Max Clark 12 Rory Jennings 11 Liam Forsyth 10 Adam Hastings 9 Jonathan Evans 1 Beno Obano 2 Tom Dunn (C) 3 Kane Palma-Newport 4 Pat Jenkinson 5 Alex Humfrey 6 Levi Douglas 7 Sydney Blackmore 8 Zach Mercer Replacements: 16 Dan Frost 17 Greg Palmer 18 Jack Edmondson 19 Freddie Avis 20 Connor Morrison 21 Will Homer 22 Brett Herron 23 Owen Waters
By Emma Thurston
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