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Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 18:57 UK

Bath 3-19 Harlequins

Bath (3) 3
Pen: James
Harlequins (6) 19
Try: penalty Con: Malone Pens: Malone 3 Drop-goal: Care

By James Standley

De Wet Barry tackles Butch James
De Wet Barry's all-encompassing tackle typified Quins' defence

Harlequins produced a ferocious defensive display to secure a crucial win at the home of fellow title contenders Bath.

An early penalty from Chris Malone and a converted penalty try gave Quins a 10-0 lead.

Butch James landed a penalty for Bath just before half-time but he missed three simple kicks in all.

Malone landed two more penalties and Danny Care added a drop-goal, with some heroic defence keeping Bath try-less.

The two sides went into the game level on 57 points, with Quins having gone back to the top of the table for the first time since the opening weeks of the season when they battered Worcester in midweek.

They were also the leading try scorers in the league - Quins had scored 54, only one more than their hosts - and Bath led the way in metres made this season, with Quins heading the category for defenders beaten.

With a hard pitch and a sunny day conditions were ideal for a cracking match in the West country and they duly served up a fine encounter at The Rec, even if defensive heroics, primarily from the visitors, kept tries to a minimum.

606: DEBATE
JS

Quins were also dominant in the scrum and Dean Richards' side look serious contenders for the Premiership final over the road from their Twickenham Stoop ground in May.

James badly missed an early penalty for the hosts and it fell to former Bath fly-half Malone to open the scoring for Quins after seven minutes.

Bath twice threatened down the left wing inside the Quins 22 in the first quarter but two forward passes - one by the 6ft 7in Matt Banahan and the other to the giant wing - kept them scoreless.

Malone then missed a long-range penalty when Quins escaped their half and although Bath went back on the attack, Ugo Monye produced a brilliant interception in his own 22 when the hosts had a two-man overlap.

From the turnover Monye's fellow England winger Dave Strettle launched a thrilling counter-attack that ended with Banahan having to run the ball into touch deep in the home 22.

The visitors were held up when they tried to drill their way over at the resulting line-out but after a series of scrums which saw Bath on the back foot referee Dave Pearson awarded Harlequins a penalty try.

Malone knocked over the conversion to give Harlequins a 10-0 lead but James finally got the hosts on the board with a penalty two minutes before half-time.

The hosts needed to score first after the break and that looked like happening when Banahan marmalised four defenders straight after the restart and the hosts were awarded a penalty.

However, the erratic James missed from in front of the posts and when Quins promptly went back up the other end Malone made them pay with his second penalty.

Bath were in desperate need of some points and they should have scored when Quins prop Mike Ross was sin-binned for cynical use of hands in the ruck a yard from his own tryline.

But Bath could not score from the resulting scrum and James then missed his third simple kick of the game.

The hosts threw the kitchen sink at their visitors but Harlequins tackled like dervishes and Care slotted a drop-goal and Malone landed a late penalty on rare second-half excursions into enemy territory as the Londoners claimed a well-deserved victory.


Bath head coach Steve Meehan:
"We had situations out there where there were overlaps that we would normally just nail, so you have got to ask why we didn't.

"We have got to win the last two Premiership games, and where we finish in the table will depend on other results.

"It is a test of character now over the next few weeks. We have to put this result to one side and get back to playing the rugby we want to play."

Quins boss Dean Richards:
"I thought we stuck at the job pretty well. Defensively, we were outstanding, but we have been all season. It is such an important area of the game.

"I also thought we had Bath on toast in the scrum during the first half, and the guys have really grown in stature over the last year.

"They are soaking it up, they are loving it. They have become far more streetwise now, and there is a confidence in the side, as people saw today."


Bath: Abendanon; Maddock, Crockett, Hape, Banahan; James, Bemand; Barnes, Mears, Bell, Harrison, Hooper, Beattie, Scaysbrook, Faamatuainu.

Replacements: Berne for Crockett (67), Higgins for Banahan (67), Baxter for Bemand (75), Hawkins for Mears (75), Jarvis for Bell (46), Short for Hooper (53), Goodman for Faamatuainu (64).

Harlequins: Brown; Strettle, Tiesi, Barry, Monye; Malone, Care, Jones, Botha, Ross, Percival, Robson, Robshaw, McMillan, Easter.

Replacements: Luveniyali for Brown (75), T Williams for Monye (67), Fuga for Botha (75), Lambert for Ross (63), J Evans for Percival (63), Guest for McMillan (64).

Not Used: Gomarsall.

Sin Bin: Ross (53).

Att: 10,600

Ref: Dave Pearson (Newcastle).



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see also
Cueto cited over Higgins tackle
02 Apr 09 |  Sale
Bath 22-14 Wasps
01 Apr 09 |  English
Quins boss fears Wasps Lions bias
03 Apr 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins 60-14 Worcester
01 Apr 09 |  English


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