Newcastle Falcons finished the 2010-11 campaign on a seven-match losing streak, clinging on to their top-flight status on points difference. Bath finished with a five-game flourish – it was they who got off to a successful start last night.
Sam Vesty pulled the strings for the side now in the full charge of Sir Ian McGeechan. The sometime England fly-half set up the only try of the game for Matt Carraro and accounted for the remainder of Bath's points with a conversion, a drop goal and four penalties.
The Falcons were somewhat flighty, failing to hold on to possession at the first line-out and getting penalised at the first scrum. Bath took advantage. From clean line-out ball on the right, Vesty bolted through a huge hole before feeding the wing Carraro for a score under the posts. Vesty converted.
It was just as well for the Falcons that they had the right boot of Jimmy Gopperth. The former Junior All Black nailed three penalties that, with Vesty landing a drop goal and a penalty, had Newcastle 13-9 down.
Gopperth also attempted a couple of penalty attempts from halfway, showing the Falcons' over-reliance on their fly-half. With Bath monopolising territory and possession, the home side failed to get a sight of the tryline until the game was lost.
With their pack in complete control, Bath were happy to stretch ahead by degrees, Vesty kicking three further penalties.
All of which, with just 3,650 paying punters in attendance, added up to a miserable night for Alan Tait and his Newcastle team.
Newcastle Falcons G Goosen (T Catterick, 74); L Fielden, L Eves (J Fitzpatrick, 66), J Helleur, A Tait; J Gopperth, C Pilgrim (J Pasqualin, 62); G Shiells, R Vickers (J Graham, 74), A Wells (G Shiells, 51), J Hudson (capt), A van der Heijden (T Swinson, 51), M Wilson, R Mayhew, W Welch (A Hogg, 62).
Bath N Abendanon; M Carraro, D Hipkiss, B Williams, T Biggs ( J Cuthbert, 62); S Vesty, M Claassens (M McMIllan, 70); D Flatman (N Catt, 62), P Dixon (R Batty, 74), K Palma-Newport, R Caldwell (D Attwood, 62), S Hooper (capt), B Skirving, S Taylor, C Fearns (G Mercer, 78).
Referee M Fox (Leicestershire).