Premiership: Bath 23-14 Newcastle Falcons
|Bath (10) 23|
|Tries: Hooper, Joseph Cons: Henson 2 Pens: Henson 2 Drop-goal: Henson|
|Newcastle Falcons (7) 14|
|Tries: M. Wilson, Sinoti Cons: Socino, Clegg|
Gavin Henson kicked 13 points as Bath overcame a stubborn Newcastle Falcons.
A Henson drop-goal and Stuart Hooper try, either side of Mark Wilson's converted effort for Falcons, put the hosts 10-7 up at the break.
Jonathan Joseph dummied over for Bath's second try, and Henson converted before adding a penalty following Juan Pablo Socino's yellow card for Falcons.
Still Newcastle pressed for a losing bonus point, only to be denied by a Henson kick after Sinoti Sinoti's try.
The second-from-bottom Falcons also had two television match official (TMO) calls go against them as they searched for their third successive Premiership win, with replacement hooker Scott Lawson going close before Sinoti touched down.
Victory consolidated Bath's place in the top four, moving to third spot above Saracens, who face Leicester Tigers on Sunday.
While the Falcons started brightly and piled the pressure on Bath, the hosts were afforded two early reprieves as versatile Argentine Socino failed to convert presentable penalty kicks.
Newcastle showed great defensive resilience to limit the hosts' opportunities, but they could do nothing to stop Henson from opening the scoring on 27 minutes with a drop-goal.
After being off target with his earlier penalty attempts, Socino decisively opted to kick for the corner to set the foundation for Newcastle's first points.
Despite lock Callum Green having an initial effort from a driving maul denied by the TMO, Wilson eventually forced his way over for Falcons.
Socino added the extras to put the visitors 7-3 up, but the advantage lasted only four minutes as a powerful driving maul sent Hooper over at the other end, with Henson converting.
Olly Woodburn was denied by some strong cover defending from Newcastle moments before Joseph crossed for his sixth try in seven league matches this season.
Falcons replacement fly-half Rory Clegg and Henson traded missed penalties before the Wales international was successful with his second attempt to make it 20-7 after Socino was sin-binned.
The Falcons looked to have done enough to at least leave the Rec with a bonus point when Sinoti went over - despite the TMO ruling against Lawson's earlier attempt - but Henson denied them even that with a penalty two minutes from time.
Bath head coach Mike Ford:
"It was a good result - and an important one.
"Last year we were in the top four but never in the top two. After seven games now we are there and thereabouts with Northampton and Saracens. Luckily we've got no injuries this week. Matt Garvey has come back and got through it.
"We've got another coming back next week (Carl Fearns) and after that the cavalry come back for Harlequins and the Montpellier. The next two games are crucial for us in terms of the Premiership."
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:
"I think we did in some ways but the scrum didn't function, which was disappointing.
"Then we gave four or five needless penalties away which again cost us. If you do that then you probably don't deserve anything out of the game.
"We still missed nine points with the boot and there were two tries that went begging - but with both those we scored immediately afterwards. There were times we defended heroically.
"We wanted something out of the game. We didn't get it - that's the disappointing thing."
Bath: Arscott, Woodburn, Joseph, Devoto, Banahan, Henson, Young, Catt, Batty, Thomas, Hooper, Day, Ewels, Sisi, Houston.
Replacements: Cook for Young (69), Auterac for Catt (59), Palma-Newport for Thomas (66), Garvey for Ewels (59), Northcote Green for Sisi (76).
Not Used: Dunn, Ellis, Lane.
Newcastle: Hammersley, Sinoti, Tiesi, Powell, Tuilagi, Socino, Tipuna, Vickers, G. McGuigan, S. Wilson, Green, Barrow, Robinson, Saull, M. Wilson.
Replacements: Clegg for Powell (55), Rogers for Vickers (59), Lawson for G. McGuigan (40), Hogg for Robinson (47).
Not Used: Tomaszczyk, MacLeod, Blair, A. Tait.
Sin Bin: Socino (65).
Referee: Ian Tempest