3 August 2012, 11:27pm
An emphatic victory over London Welsh opened up Bath Rugby's account at the J.P Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals, but they were unable to progress to the grand final after falling to a 14-38 defeat to eventual champions London Irish in their second group match.
Captain Tom Biggs, Chris Cook, Matt Banahan and Guy Mercer were the try scorers, Biggs's double coming against London Irish, and fly half Tom Heathcote added the extras.
Bath Rugby 24 – London Welsh 7
Bath had to wait until the fourth game of the night to get underway and they were clearly itching to get going, turning in a blistering start that stunned Welsh, who had won their previous game against Irish 29-17.
First Cook found a gap in the London Welsh defence to put the Exiles behind for the first time in the tournament, and Heathcote's conversion made it 7-0.
And if that got the Rec cheering, it was nothing to what came a minute later as Banahan collected Heathcote's restart to go over for the second.
Welsh had been impressive so far in the tournament though and showed their skills as Peceli Nacamavuto took a quick tap penalty to send Steve Wood under the posts.
Bath needed to wrest back the momentum and they did just that thanks to a sublime offload from Olly Woodburn, sending Cook over for his second of the night.
The restarts were clearly working for the home side and they secured the bonus point when they collected another hanging effort from Heathcote, Mercer this time taking advantage to go over on the left for a 24-7 half-time lead.
Bath were in control and thanks to some remarkable defence discipline they kept the Exiles out in a scoreless second half to complete a bonus-point win.
Bath Rugby 14 – London Irish 38
Both teams went into the side knowing that a win would take them through to the final with Gloucester, with the Exiles needing a bonus point to seal the deal.
They got off to the ideal start when Gerard Ellis barged his way over from close range for the first score of the game.
Irish continued to attack and sent Ellis over for his second, and, after more impressive interplay, Topsy Ojo dotted down his own chip over the top to put Irish 19-0 up.
But Bath knew a win of any margin would be enough, and hit back in style with two tries in quick succession from Biggs to get the score back to 19-14 at the break.
Things got worse after the break though when Jonathan Joseph broke on the left before releasing Marland Yarde to show his pace and score the Exiles' fourth try.
Despite the bonus point Irish still needed another try to get the necessary points difference to take them through to the final, and it duly came when Joseph spotted a gap in the Bath defence and raced under the posts to make the score 31-14 with Yarde's conversion.
Bath needed a reaction and Biggs looked like he might be away but the Exiles got to him and turned the ball over to send Shaun Malton over to seal the win and a clash for the title against the Cherry & Whites.
The boys in Blue, Black and White will be back in action at the Rec next Saturday 11th August, for their first pre-season game of the season against London Welsh, kick-off 14.15.
Was tonight's victory a sign of things to come in that game? Book your ticket now and join us to find out!
Bath Rugby v London Welsh
Saturday 11th August, 14.15
Ticket Office – 0844 448 1865 or click here to buy online.