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'Immense pride': Bath boss stunned following shock win over Harlequins

By PA
(Photo / PA)

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Bath head coach Neal Hatley spoke of his “immense pride” after the west country club claimed a shock 21-17 Premiership victory over champions Harlequins.

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Although Bath remain bottom of the Premiership, they followed up victory over Worcester three weeks ago by posting first back-to-back league wins since March last year.

Hatley said: “I am a little relieved, but more than anything I feel immense pride at the effort. I am pleased for the players, more than anything.

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“I don’t want to get carried away. It is a good win at home and we’ve got Saracens away next week, so it doesn’t get any easier.”

Quins, minus the likes of England Six Nations squad members Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt, led at half-time after tries from flanker Dino Lamb and wing Cadan Murley, with Tommy Allan adding a conversion.

But Bath stayed in the contest through two Ben Spencer penalties before wing Will Muir struck twice in 14 minutes, then Spencer’s late penalty sealed it after Quins substitute George Hammond claimed his team’s third touchdown.

Spencer added the conversion to Muir’s opener, and it was an outstanding effort by the injury-hit hosts.

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There was an impressive Bath debut for England international No 8 Nathan Hughes, who only joined them earlier this week on loan from Bristol.

“Nathan is a 25-cap international, and you can see why,” Hatley added. “He is one of ours for a while now, and he has brought great energy to the group.

“After last weekend (losing to Leinster 64-7), which was tough, and all the changes, I am just so proud of everybody. Defensively we are getting better, and our scrum improved massively.”

And Muir said: “We were just fighting to the last minute because we were desperate. That win is exactly what we needed. We can use that as a stepping stone.

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“The crowd gave that energy and excitement, and it spurs people on. We scored tries, and there was a buzz. There were big tackles, and there was a buzz.”

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Quins, without Smith’s direction and the physical presence of Dombrandt, saw hopes of a fourth successive away win in all competitions disappear, although a losing bonus point saw them move level on points with second-placed Saracens.

“If we boil it all down, we only had 27 percent of the ball,” Quins’ senior coach Tabai Matson said.

“For us, for anyone, that is not going to be enough, let alone in an away fixture.

“We didn’t have the ball enough, and what underpinned that was losing the aerial battle really poorly tonight. I don’t know how many times we dropped it or had a turnover in that first ruck.

“Give them (Bath) credit. I think before the game I said they were going to ruin some people’s weekends, and they have, because they took their opportunities.

“It was a 16-8 penalty count against us, and away from home, no ball, you are asking for trouble.

“Players tend to be more eager when we get a loss, so for us, deconstructing that and getting to the bottom of it is really important if we are going to roll into Sale next week and get a win.”

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