Olly Barkley kicks Bath Rugby to victory over Worcester Warriors
Olly Barkley got Bath’s Aviva Premiership campaign off to a winning start with the final kick of the match to beat Worcester 24-23.
In front of national head coach Stuart Lancaster, the former England inside back landed eight penalties out of eight.
Bath had not led until the 65th minute but even when home lock James Percival responded by crashing over for the only try of the game soon after, it was the accuracy of Barkley that proved decisive.
By contrast Andy Goode spurned a couple of kicks late on, including failing to convert Percival’s 69th-minute score, which proved crucial when his opposite number landed the winning blow with the final kick of the game.
Worcester had raced out to a 12-0 with Goode initially solid with the boot as he slotted a 40-metre penalty in just the second minute.
Minutes later Bath offended in the ruck area and again the outside half was on target, this time from 35 metres.
The Warriors continued to dominate play and when Matt Banahan was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, Goode converted his third penalty to give his side a 9-0 lead after only 10 minutes.
Worse was to follow for Banahan and Bath. The centre was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on and again Goode made no mistake with his penalty kick.
Banahan was soon joined in the sin-bin by rival captains, Stewart Hooper and Dean Schofield, who were yellow carded by young referee, Luke Pearce, after a substantial melee involving most of the forwards.
However, the Warriors failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority.
Barkley reduced the arrears with the first of his eight penalties and Banahan then returned with no damage done to his side’s chances.
Goode should have restored Worcester’s 12-point advantage but the outside half fired wide with a 30-metre drop-kick attempt.
Another error from the Warriors saw Josh Drauniniu fail to collect an up-and-under and another penalty was conceded for offside which Barkley kicked from 45 metres.
A simple penalty from Goode after 32 minutes made it 15-6 to the Warriors and they should have extended that lead when they blew the best try scoring opportunity of the half.
Goode, David Lemi and Josh Matavesi combined brilliantly in a sweeping 70-metre move but Lemi’s scoring pass to Goode was ruled forward.
Bath scored the first points of the second half when Barkley was successful with a 45-metre penalty and the lead was soon down to three points with another simple goal from the outside half.
A handling error from Lemi and a powerful run from Banahan exerted more pressure on the Warriors defence and they conceded another penalty at the ruck area to allow Barkley to tie up the scores.
Bath were now the dominant side with Banahan becoming increasingly influential with his driving runs in midfield and they looked the more likely winners as the game entered the final quarter.
Barkley gave Bath the lead for the first time in the match with a 35-metre penalty after 65 minutes.
Stung by the reverse Worcester immediately brought on three replacements and it soon paid dividends when Percival drove over from close range but Goode’s conversion rebounded back of a post which proved costly as Barkley was successful with his longest penalty of the game to give Bath a one-point lead with six minutes remaining.
Back came the Warriors to secure two penalties in the Bath 22, Goode surprisingly missed the first but kept his nerve to kick the second.
But with the last kick of the match Barkley made no mistake with his eighth penalty and with it an away victory.
Bath first-team coach Mike Ford attributed the win to calm analysis at half time.
“We kept our composure as coaches and said, Let’s not wait until Monday to fix this.”
He added: “Olly Barkley stood up tall today. It wasn’t just his kicking, he led the team. I’ve told him I’m very proud of him.”
Worcester: Pennell, Drauniniu, Grove, Matavesi, Lemi, Goode, Perry, Mullan, Lutui, Andress, Percival, Schofield, C. Jones, Betty, Taulava. Replacements: Carlisle for Matavesi (66), Arr for Perry (66), Gillies for Schofield (71), Kvesic for Taulava (66). Not Used: Hayes, C. Jones, Currie, Howard.
Scorer: Tries – Percival. Pens – Goode 6.
Sin Bin: Schofield (20).
Bath: Abendanon, Biggs, Hipkiss, Banahan, Eastmond, Barkley, Claassens, James, Mears, Wilson, Hooper, Day, Fearns, Louw, Skirving. Replacements: Cuthbert for Banahan (72), Catt for James (72), McMillan for Wilson (76), Attwood for Hooper (63), Batty for Louw (72). Not Used: Palma-Newport, Skuse, Devoto.
Scorer: Pens – Barkley 8.
Sin Bin: Banahan (14), Hooper (20).
Att: 7,847 Ref: Luke Pearce (RFU).