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Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 17:35 UK

Newcastle 14-15 Bath

Newcastle (14) 14
Tries: Williams, Young Cons: May 2

Bath (0) 15
Tries: Claasens, Hape Con: Davis Pen: Davis

By James Standley

Ryan Davis of Bath is tackled by Ross Beattie
Newcastle's resolute defence kept Bath out for an hour

Bath launched a second-half fightback to move back into the Guinness Premiership play-off places.

When they trailed 14-0 at half-time to converted tries from Danny Williams and the lively Micky Young, Bath looked in big trouble at Kingston Park.

They had missed four very kickable penalties but finally got on the board with tries from Michael Claassens and Shontayne Hape.

Ryan Davis converted the latter and added a penalty to see Bath home.

With Bath enjoying the lion's share of possession the Falcons had to be resolute in defence but in the end the West country side just had the attacking prowess to squeeze over the line.

Falcons fly-half Tom May missed an early penalty but the hosts took the lead when scrum-half Young, only 20, hacked the ball ahead and then regathered.

He had the presence of mind to check and wait for support and when no-one could get within passing range he chipped wide for the flying rugby league convert Williams to collect and dot down in one movement.


May converted but Bath missed the chance to hit back as Butch James, South Africa's World Cup-winning fly-half, missed two straight forward penalties.

When Bath were next awarded a penalty, admittedly near the touchline, James kicked to touch rather than go for the posts.

With their kicker misfiring Bath were in big trouble and they fell further behind five minutes before the break when Young stamped his imprint on the game once more.

Newcastle were awarded a penalty near the touchline on the Bath 10m line and Young tapped and went before the visitors had time to think.

Suddenly he only had one man to beat and he stepped him with ease before racing away and celebrating with an ebullient dive.

May's conversion made it 14-0 and Bath were facing a long and miserable journey back to the West country.

The visitors responded by hauling off the hapless James but his replacement, Davis, was just as off-target as the South African with his first two shots at goal.

Both were simple and Davis promptly followed James's example of kicking to touch when Bath were next awarded a penalty.

Despite their kicking problems the visitors were winning plenty of possession in the opposition half and they finally got on the scoreboard when Claassens went over from short range after taking a tap penalty.

To no-one's great surprise Davis could not add the conversion but Bath were back in the game and they scored their second try as former Bradford Bulls star Hape finished off a cracking move in the corner.

With no expectation weighing on him Davis duly converted from the touchline to cut the gap to two points and when he was presented with a penalty chance soon after he made no mistake to give Bath the lead for the first time all afternoon.

Newcastle could have gone back in front but May missed a tricky penalty and Bath escaped back to the West country with what could prove to be a vital victory.

Newcastle rugby director Steve Bates:
"We had to absorb a lot of pressure and if they had a kicker whose percentages were anywhere near reasonable we would have been out of the game in the first 10 minutes.

"But I was proud of the players' effort. We just didn't really create enough field position in that second half to worry Bath enough and they put us under a lot of pressure.

"I expected Bath to come back at us they have some very good quality players - but it was a really spirited effort in the second half and we didn't quite manage to keep them out."

Bath head coach Steve Meehan:
"The players were brilliant. This is a difficult place to come and win.

"I thought it was a great exercise in character and belief and being able to switch things around at half-time.

"We recognised what we weren't doing well and changed. The guys worked through not an ideal first half and they left it all to do in the last 40 minutes.

"So I thought it was a tremendous example of what we are capable of."

Newcastle: Tait; D Williams, Noon, Tu'ipulotu, Rudd; May, Young; Ward, Vickers, D Wilson, Swinson, Sorenson, Winter, Dowson, Balding.
Replacements: Miller for Rudd (71), Charlton for Young (55), Thompson for Vickers (65), Parling for Winter (52), Beattie for Balding (62).
Not Used: J Williams, Visser.

Bath: Maddock; Higgins, Cheeseman, Hape, Banahan; James, Claassens; Flatman, Mears, Bell, Harrison, Short, Beattie, Lipman, Hooper.
Replacements: Stephenson for Maddock (45), Davis for James (41), Ion for Flatman (62), Hawkins for Mears (67), Faamatuainu for Harrison (67).
Not Used: Scaysbrook, Bemand.

Att: 7,804

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

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see also
Exiles' Hudson to join Newcastle
17 Apr 09 |  Newcastle
Falcons continue to fly the nest
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Dowson leaves Falcons for Saints
15 Apr 09 |  Northampton
Falcons can build on exit - Bates
15 Apr 09 |  Newcastle
Saracens 32-13 Newcastle
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Wasps 12-6 Newcastle
05 Apr 09 |  English
Bath sign Skirving from Saracens
16 Apr 09 |  Bath
Council in talks over rugby club
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Leicester 20-15 Bath
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Bath 3-19 Harlequins
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