Bath v Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, May 7
Bath rout fortunate Falcons
May 7, 2011
Bath rout routine Falcons
Bath routed Newcastle 42-12 at the Rec on Saturday to end their season on a high, with the Falcons spared the drop by Leeds' loss to Northampton.
Bath did all they could to secure an improbable play-off spot by scoring four tries before half-time but eventually had to settle for fifth place and Heineken Cup qualification, as Newcastle clung on to their top-flight status.
A huge roar had gone around the Recreation Ground as word came through that fourth-placed Northampton were trailing Leeds 24-3, but old warhorse Danny Grewcock was finally able to hang up his boots at the final whistle as Leeds' effort at Northampton petered out and Bath's season ended.
Grewcock had taken the field for his last game on the Recreation Ground to a deafening ovation, along with South African duo Butch James and Luke Watson, who are now set to return home.
Newcastle made a purposeful start until lock Andrew van der Heijden knocked on to hand Bath the initiative. They needed no second invitation as Nick Abendanon burst through dangerously and James Hudson killed the ball, presenting James with a 40-metre penalty which opened the scoring.
Bath struggled at the scrummage, where third-choice tighthead Mark Lilley was suffered with a neck problem and eventually had to be replaced by another academy prop, Kane Palma-Newport. By this time however, Sam Vesty had scored Bath's first try on 11 minutes, crossing unopposed after the visitors' defence had been stretched beyond breaking point.
At least three more chances went begging as a result of interceptions or forward passes before another veteran second-row, Ignacio Fernandez-Lobbe, crashed over after more good work by Vesty. James missed the conversion but had no trouble finding the target when Tom Biggs sliced through on the right on the half hour and Matt Carraro strolled over from the ruck to stretch Bath's lead to 22-0.
Bath lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe celebrates touching down © Getty Images
The four-try bonus point came seconds before the break as Newcastle again ran out of defenders close to the breakdown and Michael Claassens sent Matt Banahan through to score. James's conversion meant Bath went in with a 29-0 lead.
Alex Tait raised the Falcons' spirits with an opportunist score immediately after half-time but Jimmy Gopperth missed the straightforward conversion while James added another penalty at the other end to put Bath 32-5 ahead.
The visitors continued their mini-revival with a try by right wing Luke Fielden, courtesy of an inch-perfect cross kick by Jeremy Manning. Manning, who had moved to fly-half when Gopperth was taken off, added the conversion.
Bath, having secured the five points, had lost much of their impetus but were disappointed when the scrambling Lee Mears had a try disallowed for not releasing when tackled. James added another penalty on 66 minutes rather than kick for touch but, with a rash of replacements, the game was meandering to a close.
On 76 minutes replacement wing Jacques Boussuge sped away and touched down under the posts. Vesty added the conversion, sparking a late flurry of activity by Bath with Grewcock earning the biggest cheers every time he touched the ball.
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