London Irish 24-25 Bath, Aviva Premiership, January 1
Booth rues lack of discipline
January 1, 2011
Bath's Olly Barkley slots the match-winning penalty with the last kick of the game © Getty Images
London Irish boss Toby Booth struggled to mask his frustration after Bath's Madejski Stadium late show consigned the Exiles to a ninth successive defeat.
Irish's latest Aviva Premiership reversal was their fifth on the bounce, accompanying two Heineken Cup losses and two Anglo-Welsh Cup defeats and they have now not won since October 31.
Bath marksman Olly Barkley floored them with the game's final kick - his sixth successful penalty - to pinch a 25-24 verdict despite Irish scoring tries through Sailosi Tagicakibau, Richard Thorpe and Topsy Ojo. Bath though, prevailed through Barkley's 20-point haul and a try from scrum-half Michael Claassens for their first Premiership triumph in more than three months.
"When you score three tries and concede one, you expect to win the game," said Booth, whose team's next Premiership appointment is with Saracens and Gavin Henson tomorrow week. "I have got a dressing room full of people in disbelief. I felt we did enough to win the game, but we didn't. Discipline has cost us the game."
Barkley's winning strike came after Irish flanker Steffon Armitage collapsed a maul, and Bath's matchwinner stepped up to claim the points and leave Irish with the scant consolation of a losing bonus. "It was a 50-50 call," Booth added. "He [referee Greg Garner] has made the decision, whether it's the right one? We will go through the referee assessors, and nothing will happen.
"We were 6-0 on penalties in our favour in the first 30 minutes, which would suggest if you kept the ball, you got a penalty. Today was probably the first time in my history we have been penalised twice for collapsing a maul that has not started from a lineout. Ultimately, there are three things that decide a contest - two teams and the man in the middle."
While Booth was left to fret over over another Premiership loss, Bath head coach Steve Meehan did not conceal his delight following a rare win on the road.
"It's a good result. There will be plenty of smiles, and we've got to build on this now for next week against Leeds," he said. "I know how much hard work the players have been doing, and it's great to get the monkey off our back.
"In a tight competition like the Premiership it can be the bounce of the ball or one error that decides things. From our point of view, I knew it would turn around, I knew the win would come."
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