Brilliant Myler kicks Saints to victory at Bath

ON TARGET - Stephen Myler lands a penalty at Bath (Picture: Linda Dawson)
ON TARGET - Stephen Myler lands a penalty at Bath (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Stephen Myler justified Jim Mallinder’s decision to drop Ryan Lamb as Saints maintained their 100 per cent record with an 18-14 win at The Recreation Ground.

Myler kicked 15 points as Mallinder’s men showed their steel to hold off a late Bath rally to make it three wins in as many Aviva Premiership matches.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Tom May, on for England star Ben Foden, who limped off in the second half, added three points with a drop goal to help secure the success.

Bath had gone ahead early as Nick Abendanon went over for a try and Olly Barkley added the other nine points.

But Barkley, who had kicked 14 out of 14 from the tee before the game, had an off night and it was his opposite number Myler who stole the headlines.

Another piece of good news for Saints, on a night when worries surrounded the injury to Foden’s right leg, was the return of Courtney Lawes, who returned from a long lay-off in the second half.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Lawes had been named on the bench, with Saints making four changes to their line-up for the clash, three of which were enforced. George Pisi and Brian Mujati were out injured and Gerrit-Jan van Velze remains suspended until October 10.

Myler was preferred to Ryan Lamb, who struggled in last Sunday’s 24-21 victory against Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens.

Myler’s battle with opposite number Barkley was to be key, and Barkley missed a kick early on as he failed to add the extras to a blistering Bath try.

Abendanon latched on to Tom Biggs’ clever kick to score inside 70 seconds.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Myler then got his chance to go 1-0 up in the scrap between the 10s as Saints squeezed a penalty out of the home side. And he took it, bisecting the posts with consummate ease.

Barkley, though, soon had his kicking boots back on as Saints were penalised for not rolling away and the Bath ace slotted the kick to put his side 8-3 up.

The penalties were flowing and Myler had another chance to increase his side’s points tally after Ben Skirving infringed. Again the Saints fly-half was on target.

The away side were, surprisingly, suffering in the lineout, losing two early on as Bath, who will have noted Saints strength in that area in the first two games, turned the screw.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

But in a game already out of trend with the two that had gone before it, Bath were failing on the discipline front and Saints were taking advantage.

Myler kicked his third penalty of the night on 22 minutes, providing some early justification for his selection ahead of Lamb.

And Myler then showed his defensive capabilities as he made a try-saving tackle on centre Ben Williams.

The No.10 was a very busy man indeed and he lined up yet another penalty kick after Bath were penalised once more by referee Andrew Small four minutes before the break.

The metronomic Myler was once again on target, sending the ball sailing through the upright to the dismay of the home faithful, who were getting more and more agitated with Small.

But they were getting almost as frustrated with Barkley, who was having an unusual off day with the boot, and he missed his second of three kicks just before the break, hitting the post.

There was a massive blow for Saints just after the interval as star man Foden took a massive hit from Biggs and was forced off the field, unable to put any weight on his right leg.

Tom May was the man introduced as Saints dominated the early stages of the half but after failing to make any inroads in open play, they opted to kick for goal. Myler made it five out of five.

May’s introduction then had a negative effect as his kick was charged down by Bath, who won possession, then a penalty, and Barkley brought them back to within four points.

With one of their England stars forced off with injury, Saints then brought one back, with Lawes making his return from an elbow injury picked up during pre-season training.

But Bath were still making inroads and Barkley hauled them back to within just a point with a penalty from just inside the Saints half.

Myler then attempted a drop goal, which was horribly skewed, and things were starting to go a little sour for Saints as the fly-half then missed a kick from the tee for the first time.

Barkley had the chance to make him pay just moments later, but he couldn’t find the length and Bath remained behind.

May then added to the Saints advantage, landing a clever drop goal to put his side four points up and that proved enough as Mallinder’s men did it the hard way to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Bath: Abendanon; Eastmond, Hipkiss, Williams (Cuthbert 72), Biggs; Barkley, Claasens; James Catt 62), Mears (Batty 62), Wilson (Perenise 62), Hooper (Attwood 40), Day, Taylor (Ovens 72), Fearns Skirving.

Replacements: McMillan, Devoto

Saints: Foden; K Pisi, Waldouck, Burrell, Artemyev; Myler, Dickson; Tonga’uiha (Waller 70), Hartley (Haywood 72), Mercey (Doran-Jones 36), Manoa, Day (Sorenson 62), Dowson, Wood, Oakley (Lawes 55).

Replacements: Roberts, Lamb

Attendance: 10,462