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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

Johan van Graan has quietly set about improving every facet of the West Country club and results are starting to come

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England prospects score hat-tricks as London Irish beat Bath

By PA
Ollie Hassell-Collins in action for London Irish in January (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Loader both scored hat-tricks as London Irish produced a breathtaking first-half performance which blew Bath away.

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Irish led 35-5 at the interval before the home side took their foot off the pedal to allow Bath to stage a spirited rally as the game ended 47-38.

Bath had no answers to the slick handling of the home backs in the opening period, with their cause not being helped by early injuries to forwards GJ van Velze and Josh McNally, and a yellow card for Josh Bayliss.

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It was Bath’s fourth consecutive league defeat, which has seen them ship a total of 154 points.

For Irish, Paddy Jackson also scored a try and converted six.

Niall Annett scored two tries for Bath, while Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Matt Gallagher, Joe Cokanasiga and Piers Francis were also on the try-scoring sheet, with Orlando Bailey adding four conversions.

Irish opened the scoring with their first attack. Will Joseph burst away before feeding Jackson who sent Hassell-Collins flying over.

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Bath then suffered two further setbacks in quick succession. First flanker Van Velze was forced to leave the field with a wrist injury before Irish hit them with a superb second try.

Benhard Janse van Rensburg drove hard to put the defence on the back foot and when the ball was recycled, slick handling gave Loader the chance to score with an athletic finish, squeezing in at the corner.

Bath looked in danger of being overrun but it was their turn to produce a flowing move which culminated in a try for Hamer-Webb, but it only took a minute for them to concede another try.

They bungled the restart and conceded a penalty to give Irish an attacking platform. With McNally lying injured on the floor, the home side took advantage with more quick passing creating a second for Loader.

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McNally departed with a wrist injury before Bath’s woes continued with a yellow card for Bayliss for a deliberate off-side.

This proved disastrous as they conceded two tries in the No 8’s absence. Hassell-Collins strolled over on both occasions to complete his hat-trick, with Jackson converting both for a 35-5 interval lead.

Bayliss returned from the restart in time to see his side pick up the first score of the second half with a try from Gallagher.

Bath continued to have the better of the third quarter and it came as no surprise when Cokanasiga forced his way over.

A comeback looked to be on the cards but Irish soon quelled this threat when Loader raced in under the sticks to complete his hat-trick.

A try from Annett from a driving line-out gave Bath a bonus point, with Irish lock Api Ratuniyarawa sin-binned for collapsing it before Annett scored a second to reward a much-improved second-half effort from the visitors.

However, Jackson weaved his way over to emphasise his side’s superiority before Francis took advantage of another Irish yellow card handed out to Will Goodrick-Clarke to leave Bath two points short of a second bonus point.

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