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Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 14:54 UK

Bath 13-9 Dragons

Bath (6) 13
Tries: Higgins Cons: James Pens: James 2

Dragons (0) 9
Pen: Arlidge, Connor 2

Wayne Evans tackles Bath's Lee Mears
Wayne Evans epitomises the Dragons defence as he stops Bath's Lee Mears

Guinness Premiership leaders Bath were made to fight all the way to beat the Dragons in the Heineken Cup at The Rec.

Bath dominated but the Welsh side's defence kept them out until the 67th minute when Andrew Higgins dived over in the corner from Butch James' pass.

James kicked the conversion to add to two early penalties as Bath secured a narrow victory in Pool Five.

The visitors deservedly earned an unexpected losing bonus point thanks to two late Shaun Connor penalties.

The Dragons' bid for their fifth successive victory always looked a tall order against the rejuvenated 1998 Heineken Cup winners.

The men of Gwent's challenge was made even more difficult when James converted two penalties as the Dragons' indiscipline looked to unhinge their European dream.

The South African World Cup winner kicked two relatively straightforward penalties in the opening 23 minutes of the Pool Five clash.

And it should have been worse for the Dragons as James missed another chance.

Just to make matters worse for the visitors, they lost their influential back-row master Colin Charvis on the half-hour mark.

The former Welsh international was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes after being penalised for coming in from an off-side position to tackle Bath scrum-half Michael Classens.

It was the last thing Dragons coach Paul Turner would have wanted against a rampant Bath side, but some epic defence kept the score down as Bath looked to run riot.

A great tackle by Phil Dollman stopped the marauding Matt Banahan going over the line after he had been set free by Jonny Faamatuainu.

Winger Banahan did have back-up but Alex Crockett could not hold onto his offload.

As the Bath onslaught intensified, it was Dollman's back-line colleague Richard Fussell who was the hero just before the break.

The winger thwarted another score as Banahan again looked to scamper over in the corner after James' long, looping pass to Bath's right wing.

It was the highly-rated 21-year-old centre that again was looking to probe the Dragons defence but Banahan's burst through the centre was stopped by Adam Jones.

Somehow the Dragons, mainly made up of rookies and journeymen, were still in the match when Charvis returned just before half-time.

And the Welsh region, who had not been near the Bath try-line, were given hope a minute after half-time.

Arlidge kicked a long penalty to drag the courageous Dragons into an otherwise one-sided game.

The embattled visitors were given a further boost when the normally reliable boot of James missed from 40m.

Indiscipline threatened to hurt the Dragons again as they were reduced to 14 men when rookie number eight Lewis Evans was yellow-carded.

The Dragons had soaked up relentless pressure and countered with their first meaningful sortie into enemy territory just after the hour.

Charvis led the Dragons pack as they pounded the Bath defence but the hosts held firm and quickly countered.

Faamatuainu appeared from a ruck inside the Dragons 22-yard line and was preparing to celebrate a score until the Bath number eight was denied by a last-ditch Joe Bearman tackle.

The defiant Dragons defence finally cracked under the relentless pressure as Higgins eventually broke through with 13 minutes remaining.

The Bath replacement took James' long pass at the second attempt before bulldozing Charvis and Dragons skipper Tom Willis over their try-line for his third try of the season.

It was cruel on the Dragons but what Bath's domination deserved.

However, two late penalties from Connor earned the gallant visitors a losing bonus point in a game many predicted would be a cricket score.

Bath: Abendanon, Maddock, Crockett, Berne, Banahan, James, Claassens, Flatman, Mears, Stevens, Harrison, Short, Hooper, Lipman, Faamatuainu.
Replacements: Higgins for Banahan (63), Bemand for Claassens (37), Barnes for Flatman (49), Dixon for Mears (63), Scaysbrook for Harrison (63). Not Used: Bell, Hape.

Dragons: Dollman, Wyatt, Sidey, Stcherbina, Fussell, Arlidge, W. Evans, Black, Willis, R. Thomas, A. Jones, Charteris, Bearman, Charvis, L. Evans.
Replacements: Smith for Sidey (68), Connor for Arlidge (68), R. Lewis for W. Evans (72), Hall for A. Jones (68), Webb for L. Evans (68). Not Used: S. Jones, Coundley.

Att: 10,600

Ref: c Domasco (Italy).

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see also
Bath boss praises Dragons defence
19 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
18 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables

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