Thriller at the Recreation Ground as Bath hold on for victory

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Northampton’s Dan Biggar hit the post with a last-gasp conversion that would have earned a draw for Saints against Bath at the Recreation Ground.

Bath were cruising at 17-7 going into the last 10 minutes but the Wales fly-half landed a penalty and then sent left wing Tom Collins away for a try in the last minute. He just could not add the extra points and the game finished 17-15.

Home fly-half Freddie Burns was a relieved man because, after scoring or creating all his side’s points, it was his deliberate knock-on that surrendered territory and possession in those closing moments.

The game was only seven minutes old when Bath lost Aled Brew to a painful-looking wrist injury, allowing former England Under-20 cap Max Wright a first team debut at outside centre.

Bath then shoved the Saints pack off a scrum but Burns pushed the penalty kick to the right from 40-plus metres.

As a heavy drizzle set in for the afternoon, both sides spent as much time spilling ball as winning it and even Biggar dropped a gentle pass from his scrum-half. Line-outs were just as much a game of pinball.

Dan Biggar
Dan Biggar hit the post with a conversion in the last minute which would have levelled the game for Northampton (Paul Harding/PA)

Biggar converted to give his side a 7-0 lead.

One of Northampton’s most promising attacking positions was from a scrum on the Bath 22, but Reinach was far too deliberate with his pass inside to Andy Symons and Burns picked it off. There was no stopping the fly-half on his 80-metre dash upfield and he added the conversion too.

He could have sent Bath in with a lead at half-time but again pushed the kick wide.

A blustery wind added to the players’ ball-handling problems after the break but Bath’s scrum was in the ascendant, winning successive penalties and forcing Saints to remove former All Black Ben Franks for Ehran Painter.

As the possession stats began to swing in Bath’s favour, Teimana Harrison was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck and Burns kicked a 55th-minute penalty.

Tom Collins
Tom Collins’ late try almost saved Northampton from defeat at the Rec (Paul Harding/PA)

Saints mounted a huge effort on the home line after Biggar’s high kick was collected by Harry Mallinder but Attwood rallied the Bath defence and the visitors had to be content with a 72nd-minute penalty by Biggar.

Collins’ try made for a thrilling finale but Biggar hit the post with the conversion and Bath collected the points.

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