Bath claim bonus-point win at Falcons to go second

Finn Russell of Bath Rugby reacts after a Newcastle Falcons tr
Bath won the match with their first-half display at Newcastle [Getty Images]

Gallagher Premiership

Newcastle: (10) 17

Tries: Blamire (2) Stuart Cons: Connon

Bath: (28) 28

Tries: Du Toit, Spencer, Cokanasiga, Gallagher Cons: Russell (4)

Bath moved level on points with Northampton Saints atop the Premiership with a comfortable 28-17 bonus-point win over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

A glut of tries from the visitors secured the victory in the first half, with Thomas du Toit, Ben Spencer, Joe Cokanasiga and Matt Gallagher on the scoresheet.

Jamie Blamire's two tries kept Newcastle in it, before Sam Stuart's converted effort reduced the difference to two scores in the second half.

Ultimately, defeat for Newcastle means their wait for a league win since March 2023 goes on and they stay rooted to the bottom of the table.

It was a fast start by Bath, who went over for the first time inside five minutes. Prop Du Toit scooped the ball up before forcing his way over, with Finn Russell adding the conversion.

Nine minutes later Bath scored again, but this time it needed checking. Du Toit fell short of the line, but the ball found Spencer. The officials looked to see if there was a knock-on in the build-up, but the try stood and was converted from close range.

Bath looked to be running away with it when Cokanasiga powered over in the right corner on 28 minutes, before another Russell conversion.

The Falcons got on the board when Blamire forced himself over the line following a superb maul near the corner, but Brett Connon's conversion fell just short.

Gallagher scythed through the Newcastle defence on 38 minutes and secured a bonus point with another converted try.

Blamire responded to end the half with his second following another driving maul. Again, Connon failed to convert.

The frenetic pace to the match did not cease after the break; Newcastle were not letting go of the slim chance of a first victory in over a year and their scrum, which had been dominant all night, maintained their foothold in the game.

Stuart's try came after another strong drive as Newcastle made their superior territory and possession count.

In truth, Bath's discipline gave Newcastle hope of a comeback as the latter stages were littered with penalties, but they managed to hold on for the win.

Newcastle director of rugby Steve Diamond speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle:

“The team is low on conference. Even though it’s my job to push that up, it’s hard. Confidence and team spirit comes from winning games.

"When you don’t win, all you’ve got is what is stowed in the bank to get you through. These young lads have not won a game for over a year.

"We’re all in uncharted waters. They rallied in the first half and the second half was really good but not good enough.

“The scrum was very good; the driving maul was very good. Our discipline was poor, we gave three very simple penalties away in the first half. They were streetwise. It’s a bit about learning for us. I’m not too distressed.”

Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan speaking to BBC Radio Bristol:

"Mission accomplished; that’s the most important thing. We knew in the context of the season, this was a massive game. Our last away game in the season. It’s always tough to come up here.

"We’ll happily take the five points and move on. In these games you need to make sure that you take your points. I thought we managed what we could.

"It certainly wasn’t perfect. It won’t go down as a classic, but for us tonight was about getting five points and moving on.”

Newcastle: Brown, Radwan, Moroni, Hutchison, Redshaw, Connon, Stuart; Brocklebank, Blamire, Bello, Cardall, De Chaves, Cross, Pepper, Chick (c).

Replacements: Palframan, B Byrne, Dormer, Hawkins, Lockwood, Spencer, Elliott, Jennings.

Sin-bin: B Byrne (79).

Bath: Gallagher, Cokanasiga, Lawrence, Redpath, Muir, Russell, Spencer (c); Obano, Dunn, Du Toit, Rowe, Ewels, Hill, Underhill, Barbeary.

Replacements: Bayliss, Annett, Stuart, Schoeman, Schreuder, Bailey, Reid, Du Plessis.

Referee: Tom Foley.