Newcastle’s return to the Premiership was dealt an early blow as they failed to score a point on a dismal night under the lights at Kingston Park.
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 the Falcons’ promotion at the first time of asking following a three-year worldwide ban in the wake of the Bloodgate scandal at Harlequins.
The game was under scrutiny following the introduction of new scrum laws. 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.
The visitors 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.
Gavin Henson was met with boos usually reserved for pantomime villains after he replaced the injured Kyle Eastmond in the final minute of the first half as the clock ticked down on a dismal opening 40 minutes.
In the second period, Bath dealt Newcastle a hammer blow as they crossed the line, with substitute prop Perenise awarded the try following a rolling maul. They then wrapped up the win with a late penalty try, with Ford adding the extras.
Scorers: Bath: Tries Perenise, Penalty; Penalties Ford 3; Conversion Ford.
Newcastle: A Tait, Cato, Barnes, Helleur, Catterick, Godman, Blair, Montanella, Vickers, Brookes, Del Fava, MacLeod, Barrow, Saull, Hogg. Replacements: McGuigan, M Wilson, S Wilson, Strain, York, Fury, Hodgson, Powell.
Bath: Watson, Rokoduguni, Joesph, Eastmond, Banahan, Ford, Stringer, James, Webber, Wilson, Hooper, Attwood, Garvey, Gilbert, Houston. Replacements: Batty, Catt, Perenise, Day, Faosiliva, Young, Henson, Biggs. Referee: W Barnes (RFU).
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