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Forgotten England giant praised: 'He's turned the game for us'

By PA
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Joe Cokanasiga’s late try double on his return from injury after five months out snatched a 30-25 win for Bath at Newcastle Falcons and delighted head coach Neal Hatley.

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The England international was named in the matchday 23 for the first time since suffering a knee injury in pre-season and proved to be the matchwinner as Bath recorded their first bonus-point triumph of the Gallagher Premiership campaign.

Bath went in 18-11 behind at the break but winger Cokanasiga came on after 53 minutes and came up with two tries in 12 minutes.

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Cokanasiga’s second score four minutes from time, converted by Danny Cipriani, saw Bath snatch victory at the death.

Hatley said: “I’m delighted for the boys, especially to see Joe getting himself back on the pitch and the scoresheet. Being able to bring him on has made a huge difference and he’s turned the game for us.”

Back row Miles Reid captained Bath for the first time and he emerged victorious despite his side going behind to an early George McGuigan try after five minutes.

A Cipriani penalty and try for England Under-20s forward Ewan Richards put Bath back in the ascendancy before Connor Collett’s score and a conversion and penalty from Will Haydon-Wood put Dean Richards’ men up at the break.

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Replacement Lewis Boyce barged over 10 minutes into the second half for Bath before Greg Peterson responded, however Cokanasiga scored two in 12 minutes, the first coming when the visitors were down to 14 men after Nathan Hughes’ 57th-minute yellow card, to earn the plaudits.

Hatley added: “It’s also great to see Miles Reid on the pitch as well and to captain the side for the first time as well as making a winning start.

“It’s a great feeling to get a win today. We’ve fought hard for that and put in a committed performance and showed our resilience when we went down to 14 men in the second half for a spell as well.

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“It’s always a tough place to come up here so to be heading home with a win and a bonus point is fantastic.”

Newcastle head coach Dave Walder was disappointed to see his side lose late on but insisted they will quickly turn their attention to Friday’s trip down to London to face defending champions Harlequins.

Walder said: “The result is a big disappointment. I think the game was there for us to win, we didn’t quite nail our exit strategy in that second half.

“I thought we were pretty disciplined but when you give a team enough possession they will hurt you.

“We have to dust ourselves down. It’s another short turnaround before going into the Quins game on Friday night.

“We haven’t got time to lick our wounds, we just need to get ready for the next one.”

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