Bath 24 Falcons 16

Saturday 31 December 2022 Written by: Adam

The visitors led 10-7 at the break after a weather-affected half in which they endured the lion’s share of territory and possession, earning a string of penalties in the home half through their set-piece dominance.

Bath missed the first opportunity for points when they earned a penalty on the Newcastle 22 and chose to kick to the corner without return – the Falcons defending the maul threat and then repelling a wave of pick-and-go.

The boggy pitch and driving rain made flowing handling play an impossibility, with both sides liberally deploying the boot to avoid being caught in the wrong areas.

It was Bath who drew first blood on 14 minutes, playing advantage to good effect when Ollie Lawrence chased a speculative chip ahead into the 22, the centre sliding between the posts for Orlando Bailey to add the conversion.

Newcastle got off the mark three minutes later with a Brett Connon penalty from just right of centre, the hosts straying offside from a Matias Orlando crash-ball run.

And it got even better for the visitors just before the half-hour, even if they had to be patient, with five line-outs in the right corner eventually yielding a driving maul try for Jamie Blamire.

Bath by that stage were down to 14 men as home hooker Niall Annett was sin-binned on a team warning after four red-zone penalties were conceded by his team, the Falcons extending their lead to three as Brett Connon added the touchline conversion despite the lack of under-foot traction.

Gary Graham came within a whisker of extending their advantage when he hit a short line off Sam Stuart and raced away down the left, only some remarkable defence from the home side seeing him held up over the try-line.

The visitors ended the half strongly with a barrage of pressure in the Bath 22, but the hosts held out as they restricted the Falcons’ half-time lead to 10-7.

Newcastle emerged with similar power and zip for the start of the second half, and were rewarded five minutes in when Connon slotted a penalty from 35 metres out down the left.

But the home side hit back almost instantly, taking the lead when Ted Hill crashed over from a short-range pick and go – Newcastle reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of Elliott Obatoyinbo.

Bailey’s conversion put them a single point in front, but they extended that to eight when scrum-half Ben Spencer was awarded a try by the TMO after another close-range snipe amid a heap of bodies.

Connon bit three off with his third penalty of the afternoon to get Newcastle within bonus-point range, but even that eluded them when Bailey’s penalty two minutes from time took Bath eight ahead.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Matias Orlando (Matias Moroni, 61), 12 Tom Penny (captain), 11 Mateo Carreras (Adam Radwan, 57), 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart (Michael Young, 61); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Logovi’i Mulipola, 61), 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison (Richard Palframan, 67), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Callum Chick, 8 Carl Fearns (Tom Marshall, 57).

**Scorers -** Tries: Jamie Blamire. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 3.

**Bath Rugby:** 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer (captain); 1 Lewis Boyce (Valeriy Morozov, 51), 2 Niall Annett, 3 D’Arcy Rae (Johannes Jonker, 73), 4 Dave Attwood (Will Spencer, 67), 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 6 Ted Hill (Miles Reid, 71), 7 Sam Underhill (Chris Cloete, 40), 8 Josh Bayliss.

**Scorers -** Tries: Ollie Lawrence, Ted Hill, Ben Spencer. Conversions: Orlando Bailey 3. Penalties: Orlando Bailey.

**Referee:** Jack Makepeace. **Attendance:** 14,509.