Newcastle Falcons 0-21 Bath, Aviva Premiership
Bath open account with victory over Falcons
ESPN Staff
September 6, 2013
Report Match details
Date/Time: Sep 6, 2013, 19:45 local, 18:45 GMT
Venue: Kingston Park, Newcastle
Newcastle Falcons 0 - 21 Bath Rugby
Attendance: 4616  Half-time: 0 - 6
No scorers Tries: Perenise, Penalty
Cons: Ford
Pens: Ford 3
Bath's Semesa Rokoduguni opts for the aerial route, Newcastle Falcons v Bath, Kingston Park, Newcastle, September 6, 2013
Bath's Semesa Rokoduguni opts for the aerial route
© Getty Images
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Bath overcame the elements and a determined yet limited Newcastle Falcons to claim a 21-0 win in their Aviva Premiership opener at Kingston Park on Friday night.

George Ford kicked three penalties and a conversion for Bath, with Anthony Perenise crossing the line from a rolling maul and a late penalty try sealing the win, as the home side failed to master the wind and rain in the season's opener.

The match marked the return of Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards to the English top flight for the first time in four years, after he navigated Newcastle's promotion at the first time of asking following a three-year worldwide ban in the wake of the Bloodgate scandal at Harlequins.

Friday's game was under some scrutiny following the introduction of new scrum laws in the English top flight, which are being trialed in the northern hemisphere this season.

It was a difficult first test on a windy and soggy night in the north east, and there were some early teething problems as the first two scrums of the night took more than a minute apiece to set, with the almost immediate collapse of one and the other resulting in a quick penalty to Bath.

Bath started the brightest and despite the slippery conditions showed their intentions of wanting to run the ball. That earned them their first chance of points, with Bath's new fly-half Ford taking aim at the posts and rifling his strike straight through the middle for an early lead.

There was then a lengthy injury delay following some broken play as Falcons centre Jamie Helleur left the field on a stretcher after what looked to be a nasty head injury, to be replaced by Adam Powell.

The relentless rain saw the first half degenerate into a scrappy, aerial battle, with traction on the ground and the ball at a premium, and sideways movement the only direction readily available to either sides' attacking efforts.

Newcastle's new scrum-half Mike Blair then had some problems of at the set piece, as a moving scrum prevented him from feeding the ball, with Bath duly awarded the ball.

Some more scrappy play followed, before Bath full-back Anthony Watson made a good break and Falcons' debutant prop Kieran Brookes replied shortly after with a solid run in midfield, feeding the ball to wing Noah Cato, who was hauled down inside the Bath 22 in Newcastle's most threatening move.

The Falcons finally found their feet at the scrum, with a penalty awarded after it turned, but fly-half Phil Godman was unable to covert the points in the swirling conditions. Ford had no problems at the other end, though, with a 40-metre kick just making it over the crossbar after lock Carlo del Fava was penalised for being offside.

Gavin Henson was then met with boos usually reserved for pantomine villains after he replaced the injured Kyle Eastmond from the bench in the final minute of the first half as the clock ticked down on a dismal opening 40 minutes. The former Wales international's first touch came early in the second half, but was a rather embarassing netball-style chest pass which went straight into touch.

Newcastle looked much brighter, with a break upfield from the scrum only stopped after a pass to Danny Barnes went to ground, with new man Andy Saull opening up Bath's defence after a quick tap from Blair.

Ford edged the visitors further ahead from close to the touchline after Newcastle were penalised following a drive forward from Bath. Bath then dealt Newcastle a hammer blow as they crossed the line, with substitute prop Perenise awarded the try following a rolling maul. Bath then wrapped up the win with a late penalty try with Ford adding the extras as Newcastle started their campaign in the worst possible way.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards admitted his side need to be more clinical. "We got ourselves into the right positions at times but we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot on occasions but it's something we will take heart from," Richards said.

"We just need to be a bit more clinical in what we do. The first half we didn't take our chances and they went in with points up. We didn't have quite the unity of turnovers as we would have hoped and we didn't capitalise on having the elements with us and playing in the right areas as we should have done. That's life. You have to learn from these mistakes and we will do."

Bath coach Mike Ford praised his side's ability to adapt to the conditions. "It's always tough up here and playing in the wind in the first half to go in at 6-0 was a great result for us," he said. "With them having one chance at goal but not threatening our line at all was good. We just talked about in the second half showing some resolve and some resilience and I think we did all of those things.

"We said we would take 6-3 before the game. It's frustrating because every training session we've had has been in the sun. We haven't been playing a lot of rugby like we saw like that so it's good we had that game management. It was freezing for both teams out there but we dominated in the forwards so it's pleasing to get the 21 points and it was pleasing that we didn't concede any."

Newcastle's Adam Powell is felled by the Bath defence © Getty Images
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