Bath Rugby defeated in tryless LV= Cup encounter at Harlequins
MATCH REPORT: Harlequins 21 Bath Rugby 12
By Nate Saunders
First team coach Mike Ford admits his Bath side were their own worst enemy as they were comfortably brushed aside by Harlequins at the Stoop in the LV= Cup.
Bath were hoping to build on a 36-15 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons from their cup opener but found the defending Aviva Premiership champions much tougher to break down in their second game.
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Quins went ahead with less than a minute on the clock through a Ben Botica penalty and Bath never looked like getting back at them, racking up the penalty count to hand their hosts a 15-6 half-time lead.
Bath made more of a fist of things after the break but couldn’t close the gap, slipping to a 21-12 defeat, and Ford insists his troops’ discipline will need to be much improved when the two sides meet again in the Premiership on Friday night.
“I think we weren't great first half, we gave away far too many penalties and were probably lucky not to have let a try pass us before the break,” he said.
“I think penalty count was 22-6 towards the end and that's just not acceptable if you want to win a game.
“I think in the second we've had the majority of territory and majority of possession, we've made one or two slips and suddenly we're nine points down and playing catch-up again.
“We will sit down and look at the first half which we'll need to assess – we'll look at what needs to be done and then go from there.
“You can complain about the referee all you want but the fact is we got on the wrong side of him far too often and if you give good kickers the chance to score against you then they're going to take that chance and we did that here.
“We can't feel too sorry for ourselves, the game probably slipped past us in the first half an hour. All we can do is learn from this and move on and make sure the penalty count is much improved next week.”
With barely 30 seconds on the clock Botica had Quins ahead after he landed the first of his five first-half penalties.
And he didn’t have to wait long for his second three-pointer, Bath penalised for not rolling away just four minutes later.
Botica had three penalties to his name after 15 minutes but World Cup-winning All Black Donald opened Bath's account immediately afterwards at the other end with one of his own to make it 9-3.
But the retreating Bath pack were penalised again four minutes later, handing Botica another kickable penalty and he duly obliged to regain Harlequins' nine-point advantage.
Bath then enjoyed their first foray into the Quins half but were met with stubborn resistance and were soon down to 14 men – prop Anthony Perenise seeing yellow after repeated infringements at the scrum.
But it was Bath who got the next score, Donald landing his second penalty of the evening when Quins were caught offside inside their own 22.
However Botica responded within two minutes, making it five from five with a perfectly struck effort from the left touchline to have the hosts 15-6 ahead at the break.
Donald added his third three-pointer shortly after the restart before play was halted for Ben Williams to receive treatment –the centre eventually taken off on a stretcher and replaced by last week's match-winner Semesa Rokoduguni.
Replacement Tom Heathcote narrowed the deficit to just three points with 16 minutes remaining but after Brett Sharman was sent to the bin for a ruck infringement Quins replacement Louis Grimoldby sealed a home victory with two late penalties on his senior debut.
The LV= Cup. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit www.lv.com/rugby