Premiership: London Irish 23-33 Bath
|London Irish (6) 23|
|Tries: Paice, Short Cons: Geraghty 2 Pen: Geraghty 3|
|Bath (16) 33|
|Tries: Penalty try, Thomas, Cook Cons: Henson 3 Pen: Henson 4|
Bath moved up to second in the Premiership table with a thrilling victory at London Irish.
The hosts led 16-6 at half-time through a penalty try and 11 points from Gavin Henson's boot, while Shane Geraghty kicked two penalties for the home side.
Henry Thomas's try was a perfect start for Bath after the break, but the hosts hit back quickly through David Paice.
Chris Cook's score increased Bath's lead again, while James Short's score was a consolation for London Irish.
Henson took his tally to 18 points for the night as Bath secured their sixth win of the season.
A long-range third-minute penalty from Geraghty put the home side ahead, but Henson hit straight back with a successful, difficult kick of his own.
Opposing place-kickers Geraghty and Henson then traded missed attempts at goal in quick succession, before Henson was more accurate from close range to give Bath a three-point lead.
Former Northampton and Brive centre Geraghty was off target with his next attempt, as the Exiles' playmaker struggled to find his line.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men when Halani Aulika was shown a yellow card for coming in at the side of the ruck and Henson quickly slotted over his third penalty.
Just as the one-man advantage was coming to an end Bath made it count, as they were awarded a penalty try and Henson added the extras.
Geraghty's penalty closed the gap to 10 points at the interval, but it was the visitors who came out firing in the second half and scored an early try.
Thomas started and finished the move as he ran in from 25 metres after being set up by Micky Young, with Henson kicking the conversion.
The try seemed to inspire London Irish into life as Paice crashed over from close range and Geraghty's conversion was quickly followed by an accurate penalty, as they gap was closed to seven points.
Henson's fourth successful penalty was later followed by a conversion after Cook broke away to score Bath's third try.
With Bath down to 14 men following Dominic Day's sin-binning, Short's try and Geraghty's conversion made for an exciting finish, but the visitors held on.
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith:
"Our effort was good but our precision wasn't great. We put ourselves under pressure situations which were of our own making.
"We had distractions leading into the game, especially the loss of our skipper, George Skivington, but we played some good rugby against a side which had a very fancy backline.
"We are not where we want to be but we have to accept it. The season is only a third gone and there's plenty of rugby left to play."
Bath assistant coach Tony Booth:
"We haven't played at our best and it was a tough game. They were emotionally charged after last week's heavy defeat and we knew they would come out with a reaction.
"In international periods, the games are fraught with difficulty as there is so much disruption. People need to find the feet and get used to where people play.
"It was a very stop-start game so we didn't see any of our three-quarters at their best. However, the bottom line is that the team comes first and they all put in good defensive efforts."
London Irish: Fenby; Lewington, Mulchrone, Geraghty, Ojo; Noakes, Steele; Court, Paice, Aulika; Skivington (c), Cox; Narraway, Gilsenan, Guest.
Replacements: Stevens; Parr; Halavatau; Lyons; Curry; Allinson; Griffin; Short.
Bath: Arscott; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Eastmond, Banahan; Henson, Young; Catt, Batty, Thomas; Hooper (c), Day; Garvey, Sisi, Houston.
Replacements: Dunn, Auterac, Palma-Newport, Ewels, Fearns, Cook, Devoto, Woodburn.
Referee: Andrew Small (RFU).