|London Irish (11) 18|
|Tries: Marshall, Steele Con: Tonks Pens: Bell 2|
|Bath (16) 22|
|Try: Banahan Con: Burns Pens: Burns 4 Drop goal: Burns|
Bath inflicted a seventh successive Premiership loss on London Irish, keeping the Exiles bottom of the table.
The hosts’ James Marshall and Bath’s Matt Banahan scored first-half tries but Freddie Burns kicked the visitors into a five-point lead at the interval.
Burns added to his two penalties, conversion and drop goal with two more penalties after half-time.
Scott Steele’s late score, set up by the forwards, earned a losing bonus point but the home side fell short.
Bath saw out a long spell of late pressure to secure a victory which put them fourth in the table, seven points behind leaders Exeter Chiefs, who beat Harlequins on Sunday.
London Irish, whose only league win came against Quins in their opening match of the campaign, dropped to the foot of the Premiership on Saturday as a result of Worcester’s home win over Northampton.
Tommy Bell’s third-minute penalty provided the first points of the match, but Bath led throughout from the point Aled Brew’s offload helped set up Banahan to score the game’s first try.
The hosts outscored their opponents by two tries to one, with full-back Marshall fed by Joe Cokanasiga in the first half and replacement scrum-half Steele darting over from close range after a series of phases following a scrum.
London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy told BBC Radio Berkshire:
“We’re disappointed to lose a close game but, at the same time, I’m really proud of the boys and the effort they put in.
“We were unlucky at times, we didn’t get the bounce of the ball, we didn’t get the referee’s decision, but once again we finished well. We showed our heart and nearly won the game.
“It’s just very fine margins. Our defence was much improved. Credit to Bath, they played field position very well and Freddie Burns’ boot is on fire. He’s come here twice in the past three weeks and he’s kicked extremely well.”
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder:
“I’m really pleased with the outcome. The win was what we were looking for and to come away with it, these kind of games have been banana skins for us in the past.
“I’m really proud of the courageous defence at the end, but frustrated that we put ourselves in that position. We should never have done that, it was just simple basics.
“These games are about doing those well home and away and we probably kicked possession away needlessly a couple of times in the second half and we didn’t build enough pressure on Irish. They could’ve easily have won it.”
London Irish: Marshall; Cokanasiga, Mulchrone, McLean, Lewington; Bell, Meehan; Franks, Paice, Du Plessis, Van der Merwe, De Chaves, Northcote-Green, Gilsenan, Cowan.
Replacements: Porecki, Elrington, Hoskins, Lloyd, Coman, Steele, Tonks, Fowlie.
Bath: Homer, JH Wilson, JW Wilson, Banahan, Brew; Burns, Fotuali’i; Obano, Dunn, Perenise, Charteris, Stooke, Garvey, Mercer, Grant.
Replacements: Van Vuuren, Auterac, Lahiff, Douglas, Bayliss, Allinson, Lewis, Atkins.
Referee: Thomas Foley