HARLEQUINS chief executive Mark Evans backed Bath to top the Premiership in regular season and book one of the slots for the end-of-season play-offs after watching his own side slip to defeat.

Evans believes the league leaders are unlikely to be caught after building up a nine-point lead over the chasing pack, none of whom are looking likely to break ranks and claw back the deficit.

The Quins boss said: ''I think Bath are going to win the regular season I don't think anyone will catch them.

''They have won at Sale, Wasps, Gloucester and Leeds and, if you look at previous seasons, four or five away wins plus 10 home wins is usually enough to get you at least into the top three.

''The other sides beneath them, us included, are grouped and it's very hard to see a team coming out of that pack to challenge them.

''I thought Bath showed a lot of composure, although we disrupted them in the forwards, which hasn't happened this year. They are a well organised side and I don't think they will be caught.''

Rec chief John Connolly paid tribute to his side's cool heads after Michael Lipman's dismissal, saying: ''When you are a man short, everyone gets tested.

"But sport is about courage, commitment and team spirit. The team knew we had to lift it and we did,

''At half-time (captain) Jonathan Humphreys spoke and was very inspirational about what we wanted to achieve and the players got behind him.

''The composure all season has been very good. They (Quins) are a pretty good side and we hung in there when we had to.''

Lipman now faces a ban for his red card, an incident Connolly admitted he had not seen.

The Australian added: ''There was a lot of rucking going on, but we will have to wait and see what the referee says.''