Bath edge it at the death
September 1, 2012
Bath's Olly Barkley goes for the posts
© Getty Images
A late Olly Barkley penalty was enough to give Bath a narrow 24-23 win over Worcester at Sixways on Saturday.
Bath had not led until the 65th minute but even when home lock James Percival responded by crashing over for the only try of the game soon after, it was the accuracy of Barkley that proved decisive. By contrast Andy Goode spurned a couple of kicks late on, including failing to convert Percival's 69th-minute score, which proved crucial when his opposite number landed the winning blow with the final kick of the game.
Worcester had raced out to a 12-0 with Goode initially solid with the boot as he slotted a 40-metre penalty in just the second minute. Minutes later Bath offended in the ruck area and again the outside half was on target, this time from 35 metres.
The Warriors continued to dominate play and when Matt Banahan was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, Goode converted his third penalty to give his side a 9-0 lead after only 10 minutes. Worse was to follow for Banahan and Bath. The centre was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and again Goode made no mistake with his penalty kick.
Banahan was soon joined in the sin-bin by rival captains, Stuart Hooper and Dean Schofield, who were yellow carded by young referee, Luke Pearce, after a substantial melee involving most of the forwards. However, the Warriors failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority.
Barkley reduced the arrears with the first of his eight penalties and Banahan then returned with no damage done to his side's chances. Goode should have restored Worcester's 12-point advantage but the outside half fired wide with a 30-metre drop-kick attempt.
Another error from the Warriors saw Josh Drauniniu fail to collect an up-and-under and another penalty was conceded for offside which Barkley kicked from 45 metres. A simple penalty from Goode after 32 minutes made it 15-6 to the Warriors and they should have extended that lead when they blew the best try scoring opportunity of the half. Goode, David Lemi and Josh Matavesi combined brilliantly in a sweeping 70-metre move but Lemi's scoring pass to Goode was ruled forward.
Bath scored the first points of the second half when Barkley was successful with a 45-metre penalty and the lead was soon down to three points with another simple goal from the outside half. A handling error from Lemi and a powerful run from Banahan exerted more pressure on the Warriors defence and they conceded another penalty at the ruck area to allow Barkley to tie up the scores.
Bath were now the dominant side with Banahan becoming increasingly influential with his driving runs in midfield and they looked the more likely winners as the game entered the final quarter. Barkley gave Bath the lead for the first time in the match with a 35-metre penalty after 65 minutes.
Stung by the reverse Worcester immediately brought on three replacements and it soon paid dividends when Percival drove over from close range but Goode's conversion rebounded back of a post which proved costly as Barkley was successful with his longest penalty of the game to give Bath a one-point lead with six minutes remaining.
Back came the Warriors to secure two penalties in the Bath 22, Goode surprisingly missed the first but kept his nerve to kick the second. But with the last kick of the match Barkley made no mistake with his eighth penalty and with it an away victory.
And Bath coach Toby Booth admitted his side were lucky to come away with the win. "We had no ball at all in the first half and Andy Goode's monster right boot kept pegging us back and we couldn't get out of our half," Booth said. "We showed great resilience to get back into the game and nick it at the end.
"At half-time we knew we had to adjust and it was a complete reversal of the first 20 minutes."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin