Joe Cokanasiga’s impressive performance propels Bath to first place as he forces Harlequins into defeat with a double knockout.

Joe Cokanasiga showcased his credentials for an England call-up in the Six Nations, diverting attention from the battle for the No. 10 position as Bath took the top spot in the table.
Although Marcus Smith lost the points battle to Finn Russell, with a missed conversion costing his team a losing bonus point, Cokanasiga stole the show. The 6ft 4in, 17-and-a-half stone winger scored two impressive tries, demonstrating his speed and power, and making a strong case for his return to the Test level after being overlooked for the World Cup.
If Bath is a rejuvenated team, then Cokanasiga is a player reborn since being dropped by England’s head coach, Steve Borthwick, early in the World Cup preparations. Despite being discarded after just one World Cup warm-up match, the 26-year-old has bounced back and looks like a genuine contender for the Six Nations.
Johann van Graan, head coach of Bath, revealed that Borthwick has been keeping a close eye on Cokanasiga, who has scored six tries in his past four games, and believes there is even more to come.
“He returned from the Welsh Test very disappointed not to make it to the World Cup, but there has been excellent communication from Steve and the England team regarding what he needed to work on.
“He has made huge improvements aerially, and I constantly tell him that he is the biggest winger I have ever coached. Despite having coached some fantastic and fast wingers, his size is a tremendous advantage, as he demonstrated tonight. In one try, he ran over three defenders to finish.”
The game also featured an impressive display of skills from Russell and Smith, including a bit of pushing and shoving before Bath’s Miles Reid scored the bonus-point try.
Quins managed a try in added time thanks to flanker James Chisholm, but Smith’s missed conversion from a difficult angle denied them a losing bonus point.
“They both had significant moments in the match,” said Billy Millard, the director of rugby for Harlequins. “Marcus is a fierce competitor who covers a lot of ground, and he had to do that today.”
Russell was the first fly-half to unleash his bag of tricks, sending Quins’ Louis Lynagh out of position with a delayed pass and setting Ollie Lawrence free. Cokanasiga then powered over the line after receiving a pass from Lawrence.
Smith responded with a breathtaking individual try just two minutes later. Evading the defense with a dummy and a sidestep from a lineout, he leveled the score at 5-5 as both fly-halves failed to convert their tries.
Bath’s try was disallowed when Ben Spencer juggle the ball and was penalized for holding on before being tackled. Although Max Ojomoh managed to go over the line, the try was canceled due to a knock-on caused by Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care diving on Spencer from an offside position. Care received a yellow card, but Bath only got a penalty.
After the break, Stooke drove over from a lineout, giving Bath the try they initially believed they were denied. Cokanasiga extended their lead by breaking through three tackles, including one from Smith, for his second try and his sixth in four games.
However, Smith’s accurate penalty kick, despite the heavy rain, set up a lineout for Quins. Hooker Jack Walker was pushed over, bringing them back into the game. Nevertheless, Bath successfully defended their lead, and Reid scored from a lineout just as Smith and Russell were grappling for the ball in the corner.

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