Louw's late show is blow for Agen
Coming away with a 27-22 win and a four-try bonus point was all the Bath coaching team could wish for from their Amlin excursion to south west France.
Clinching the victory with a Francois Louw try in the final minute which needed the television match official's approval was less convincing, along with a first-half performance littered with missed tackles and misplaced kicks.
Always fighting a fiercely swirling wind, which the locals claimed had blown in from the Sahara, Bath's kicking from hand in the first half was often too long, giving easy possession to the home side.
Being behind 10-8 at the break concentrated the mind wonderfully for a second 40 performance which was much more controlled, even if it took until the last second to seal the win.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
"We knew they would be a tough nut to crack," said coach Brad Davis.
"The wind was also a massive factor. Playing with the elements in the first half, we went for field position and probably played into their hands a bit. As a result, they put some dents into us around the ruck.
"After the break we knew we had to keep hold of the ball and simply go out and win the game.
"They're a big team and we needed to move them about, get them to make tackles and put them under pressure.
"That's what set up the last 20 when our superior fitness told. It was a classic game where one side has the breeze in the first half and relies on the kicking game too much.
"In the second 40 we knew we just had to play. That's what we did and we managed to come away with it."
In the midst of kicking away first-half possession, two missed penalties and a conversion by Stephen Donald, and the centres failing to make the final pass on more than one occasion, there were two very big moments for the Bath pack.
For the first, Agen were pushed off their own ball on the Bath line. Lee Mears and co then repeated the feat on 34 minutes on Agen's line, enabling Michael Claassens to touch down.
Dominating the scrum and maul throughout, Bath threatened to break clear from the hour mark on, especially after tries by Kyle Eastmond and Donald. Instead a 60-metre penalty by Agen's impressive Raphael Lagarde set the tone for a final quarter of dogged resistance.
"Credit to our guys that they stuck together until the very last second and got away with that final try," said captain Louw.
"This is a cup we're taking seriously and we are very happy with the win. We've had a slow start to the Premiership and with Exeter up next, a big solid team, we need to take the momentum we've got from these two Amlin games into that contest."
Asked whether dealing with Agen's Tongan number eight Opeti Fonua running at him had been a good workout for Exeter, Louw added: "He's a big boy, certainly. You have to climb into these guys early on. We perhaps gave up a few too many metres at times but we hung in there to the end and came away with a good win."