The first winners of the Community Foundation Challenge Cup are Bath Rugby, following Wednesday night's friendly.
Played in aid of the Bath Rugby Community Foundation, the match was the first pre-season game on the Recreation Ground in many a year, and 2,500 supporters were there to enjoy the spectacle.
It could scarcely have started better for the home side, who found themselves 14-0 up within three minutes. The first try came after probing work by Shaun Berne - who throughout the match was hugely influential at fly-half - when Michael Stephenson picked a line off Chris Goodman to score under the posts. Two minutes later Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu capitalised on a break by Nick Walshe, taking the scoring pass from Zak Feaunati. Berne added both conversions.
The Italians naturally adjusted somewhat after this, but Bath withstood a couple of attacking moves and Fuimaono-Sapolu notched up his second try after a loop move between Berne and Alex Crockett. Steve Borthwick was replaced halfway through the first period as a precautionary measure after suffering a minor nerve twinge in his shoulder, but soon after his second-row colleague Danny Grewcock put the forwards on the score-sheet when he thundered over in the right-hand corner, and Berne again added the extras, this time from a more testing position.
Superb work by the forwards repelled a catch-and-drive move by Parma near the line, and with half-time approaching, Bath were given the advantage of an extra man when Fabio Staibano was shown the yellow card for killing the ball.
Parma gave Bath a huge scare in the second half, when replacement Sego Nadridri intercepted the ball, and charged fifty yards upfield. Hotly pursued by Andy Williams, the threat was temporarily alleviated as the big Italian ran out of steam and the cover caught up with him, but Bath still had some defending to do as the visitors nearly went over in the corner. Parma maintained the pressure as Bath conceded a number of penalties which the visitors kicked to touch, but eventually Chris Malone cleared the ball towards halfway, and Andy Williams relieved the situation with an intercept try.
Two tries in quick succession, for Malone and Bory, took the score one short of fifty, Bath truly rampant after weathering the storm of earlier in the half. With ten minutes to go, the forwards' dominance was underlined by a catch-and-drive try for Feaunati. Malone's second try, the result of a well-oiled lineout, was the final touchdown of the match, and left the hosts undisputed victors.
Steve Meehan, Bath's Acting Head Coach, said improvements had been made from the previous win over Newbury: "I'm pleased that the standard was raised again tonight. For our first match at the Rec, I think they put on a nice display for the Bath faithful."
1: Try Stephenson, Conversion Berne, 7-0
3: Try Fuimaono- Sapolu, Con Berne, 14-0
19: Try Fuimaono- Sapolu, Con Berne, 21-0
24: Try Grewcock, Con Berne, 28-0
56: Try Williams, Con Malone, 35-0
61: Try Malone, Con Malone, 42-0
64: Try Bory, Con Malone, 49-0
70: Try Feaunati, 54-0
77: Try Malone, Con Malone, 61-0
BATH: 15. M Stephenson 14. A Higgins 13. A Crockett (Mangeolles, 62)12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu (Barkley, 56) 11. D Bory 10. S Berne (Malone, 50) 9. N Walshe (Williams, 41) 1. D Flatman (Barnes, 41) 2. L Mears (Hawkins, 62) 3. D Bell (Loader, 59, Flatman, 74) 4. S Borthwick (captain; rep: Fidler, 19min) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short 7. C Goodman (Scaysbrook, 41) 8. I Feaunati.
Replacements: 16. R Hawkins 17. D Barnes 18. C Loader 19. R Fidler 20. M Mangeolles 21. O Barkley 22. C Malone 23. A Williams 24. J Scaysbrook.
PARMA: 15. G Fontana 14, G Ghidini 13. A Orsi 12. A Chillon 11. A Mazzuccato 10. F Mazzariol 9. J Pellicena (captain) 1. G Fontana 2. B Masetti 3. F Staibano (sin-bin, 39-41 4. F Gumiero 5. F Minello 6. P Sciaretta 7. L Pascu 8. R Barbieri.
Replacements: 16.T Paoletti 17. L Zanini 18. M Barbieri 19. J Soffredini 20. M Frati 21. A Canale 22. S Nadridri.
Referee: Sean Davey