Warriors snatched a try bonus point at the death which was reward for a tenacious performance in adversity in this Premiership Rugby Cup tie at The Rec.
Ted Hill and Francois Hougaard both crossed in the final minute for converted tries which ensured that Warriors returned home with something to show for their unstinting efforts.
But Warriors lost both their tightheads, Nick Schonert and Richard Palframan, to injuries in quick succession in the third quarter which meant they found themselves under increasing pressure in the scrums which led to the award of penalty try which effectively decided the result.
Before Schonert and Palframan departed Warriors had also lost centre Will Butler to an ankle injury and Melani Nanai’s debut ended a few minutes when he needed a head injury assessment.
With a completely changed starting XV to the one that defeated Leicester Tigers in the season opener it was not surprising that there was some early rustiness both in attack and defence from Warriors who found themselves 17 points down in as many minutes.
Bath, who were clinical in attack, capitalised on some uncertain defending after Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland had nudged them ahead with an early penalty.
A missed tackle on Tom Homer allowed Bath to pour through with scrum-half Will Chudley scooting over for the opening try after eight minutes.
Priestland added the conversion, quickly followed by another after right wing Levi Davis stepped through for the second try.
Warriors suffered a setback when centre Will Butler hobbled off in between the opening two tries. Butler needed treatment to his right ankle and although he attempted to play on with it heavily strapped he had to bow to the inevitable.
Warriors spent most of the opening 30 minutes outside Bath’s 22 and having to man the barricades in defence. A long period of sustained pressure eventually wore them down with a series of five metre scrums from which replacement lock Elliott Stooke drove over from close range and Priestland added the conversion.
But Warriors began to find some cohesion in attack with their patient approach work eventually stretching Bath and creating space for acting-captain Marco Mama to nip in for a try which Duncan Weir converted.
Warriors dominated the third quarter but could not turn pressure into points. To make matters worse they lost Schonert and his replacement Palframan – on his debut – in the space of two minutes.
Schonert had to be helped off with an ankle injury and Palframan then had to leave the field for a head injury assessment after he took a heavy blow in a tackle.
Callum Black, a specialist loosehead, had to be pressed into service on the other side of the scrum which meant Warriors struggled to secure set piece ball.
But Warriors did manage to pull back a try 18 minutes from time after they stripped Bath of possession close to the line and Nanai went on a long run. The wing almost went the length of the pitch but was nudged into touch by Tom de Glanville’s try-saving tackle at the cornerflag. But Warriors won the resulting lineout and Ollie Lawrence went over for the try which Weir improved.
Another try at that stage would have made it interesting but Warriors’ difficulties in the scrum were their undoing. Bath opted to scrum a series penalties close to the line and when a third scrum went down referee Simon Harding marched under the posts to signal a penalty try and Bath’s bonus point.
Bath were not finished and after Sam Lewis had been yellow-carded at the breakdown, they worked a huge overlap for former Wales wing Aled Brew to cross in the corner.
But Warriors demonstrated the fitness and fighting spirit that served them well so often last season and they finished strongly.
Hill powered through for an individual try from the Bath 22 and Jamie Shillcock drop kicked the conversion which gave Warriors time for one final attack.
They managed to build the phases and Hougaard, who switched to the wing after Nanai left the field, scrambled over with Shillock converting from touch.
Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Will Butler (Hearle 14), 11 Melani Nanai (Heaney 69), 10 Duncan Weir (Shillcock 65), 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Callum Black, 2 Niall Annett (Miller 55), 3 Nick Schonert (Palframan 48) (Bower 50), 4 Andrew Kitchener (Clegg 55), 5 Michael Fatialofa, 6 Marco Mama (C), 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Cornell du Preez (Hill 51).
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Ted Hill, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Alex Hearle.
6m | Preistland pen 3-0
8m | Chudley try 8-0
9m | Priestland con 10-0
17m | David try 15-0
18m | Priestland con 17-0
29m | Stooke try 22-0
30m | Priestland con 24-0
37m | Mama try 24-5
38m | Weir con 24-7
62m | Lawrence try 24-12
62m | Weir con 24-14
69m | Penalty try 31-14
78m | Brew try 36-14
79m | Hill try 36-19
79m | Shillcock con 36-21
80m Hougaard try 36-26
80m | Shillcock con 36-28