Priestland boot gets Bath over the line
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Max Clark's second-half try and the boot of Rhys Priestland secured Bath a hard-fought 22-12 victory over Harlequins.
The result keeps their impressive record going at the Rec this season.
Todd Blackadder's side has only lost twice at home all campaign, once in Premiership to Exeter Chiefs and once to Leicester Tigers in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
They were outscored two tries to one on Saturday in the West Country, Tim Visser and Marland Yarde both crossing for Quins who were hoping for three away wins in a row for the first time since 2013.
But the boot of Priestland had kept Bath in the game and it was Clark who finally forced his way over shortly after the hour mark.
Two more late penalties from the Welsh fly-half then guaranteed the victory and denied Quins a losing bonus point to strengthen Bath's position in fourth in the table.
Quins were chasing successive wins at the Rec for the first time in the professional era but it was the hosts who started brighter and hit the front when Priestland – the hero of Bath's last-gasp win over Northampton Saints last week – slotted a fifth-minute penalty.
Tom Dunn was an early injury for the hosts but their scrum was on top and Priestland slotted a second to put them further ahead at 6-0.
Quins had enjoyed plenty of territory in the opening stages without really threatening a try but they struck before the half-hour mark.
The ball was spread left and Scotland wing Visser showed fine athleticism to dive over in the corner and avoid the touchline, Ruaridh Jackson slotting the tough extras to put Quins 7-6 in front.
Before the interval Priestland's third penalty re-gave the hosts the lead while Quins lost lock Mark Reddish to injury.
Taulupe Faletau and Semesa Rokoduguni combined beautifully in midfield to release the latter but the chance was wasted and Quins pounced after the break.
Rob Buchanan battered his way over the gain line down the right and the hooker then produced a deft offload to release Yarde and the England wing went over.
Jackson's tough conversion this time came back off the post so Quins led 12-9 with less than a quarter of the game remaining.
But the hosts came roaring back – Priestland's line break putting them on the front foot deep in Quins territory. Kahn Fotuali'i – so impressive all day for the Blue, Black and White – then fed Clark and the centre burst over for the score, their first of the day.
Priestland's conversion sailed over and when the Welshman added two penalties in the final ten minutes, Bath were home and hosed at 22-12.
Pens: Priestland 5
Tries: Visser, Yarde
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw (co-captain), 6 David Denton, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward (captain), 6 James Chisholm, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Tyler Gendall, 18 Matt Shields, 19 George Merrick, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Nick Evans, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Roger Baileff
TMO: David Rose