Head coach Mike Ford is surprised that Matt Garvey didn't receive a call-up for the England Saxons at the end of last month after paying tribute to the blindside flanker's influence during Bath's victory 24-6 over Newcastle yesterday.

"Matthew has played a lot of minutes this year," said Ford

"He's one of our stand-out players - Mr Consistency - and I'm really surprised he got overlooked for England Saxons, really surprised.

"Week in, week out, he puts in the hard yards. His work rate is fantastic, his maul work too - most of which you can't see - his scrummaging and his hands around the field."

Bath needed Garvey's drive and work ethic to subdue a determined Newcastle side who led 6-3 shortly after half-time.

Three second-half tries by Horacio Agulla, Leroy Houston and Francois Louw, all converted by George Ford, who also kicked a penalty, secured the win for the third-placed hosts.

Ford continued: "First half was very stop-start. We wanted to play with tempo and they wanted to slow the football. They achieved that better than us in the first half and the conditions made it easier for them.

"We went behind, but the conditions got better as the game went on and the boys showed good shape at times. But we had a very good training session at Farleigh on Thursday and we were able to replicate that in the last 30 minutes. Getting three tries was very pleasing."

"I've got to give credit to Newcastle," he added.

"I thought they played well at times. At one point, when they were 6-3 up, they would have been licking their lips for a big scalp.

"But we showed great resilience, didn't go into our shells - and even when we made mistakes, we kept playing. I'm just pleased we came away with four points.

Bath lost Nick Abendanon to concussion early on and also Rob Webber with an ankle injury. Carl Fearns withdrew just before kick-off with a pulled hamstring.

Ford refused to be drawn on Bath's much-trailed approach for Great Britain rugby league star Sam Burgess, saying: "We're always looking at players. Recruitment is an ongoing process.

"We're not going to mention anybody until ink is on the paper. There's nothing to announce because nobody's signed."