Bonus point boosts Bath back up

Joe Maddock celebrated his 100th appearance for the club with a brace of tries which took his tally as the Guinness Premiership's top try scorer to nine.
"I would have been happy with one - but two is great," he beamed afterwards, also revealing that a friend had laid a tidy bet on him scoring. But on a more serious note, the New Zealander added: "After the last couple of weeks, it was the team performance that was important."

Bath's bookmakers had made the home team 25-1 ON favourites for the latest in a series of derby matches stretching back to the 1880s. Who knows when the next meeting will be after six tries confirmed Bath's superiority over the league's cast-iron relegation candidates.

Maddock set things rolling in his immaculate way after just five minutes of non-stop attack in which Butch James went through his full repertoire of kicks. Eventually space opened up on the blindside of a ruck and Maddock dummied his way past lock Nathan Budgett and fullback Tom Arscott. There was still 40 metres to the posts but he accelerated away and James was left with an easy conversion.

Nathan Brew and Shaun Perry inspired a dogged Bristol defensive effort and the visitors snatched a try against the run of play when Lee Robinson, so often a thorn in Bath's side over recent years, latched on to Perry's chip to score an unconverted try in the corner.

Bristol lost hooker David Blaney to injury soon afterwards but actually took the lead on 26 minutes with an Ed Barnes penalty , although the lead lasted only a couple of minutes, James kicking a penalty from short range at the other end.

Maddock was in the thick of the action all over the field, first winning a penalty as a result of foul play by Robinson and then turning up in the corner to dot the ball down after Andrew Higgins had been stopped on the line. James' finally judged conversion made it 17-8 and it could have been more but they failed to finish off Matt Banahan's storming run just before the break.

Bristol came out for the second half in defiant mood, Barnes being just wide with a 30 metre penalty but Bath swept to the other end of the field to score again. Hooker Rob Hawkins was twice involved before James slipped a delicate grubber through for skipper Alex Crockett to score in the corner. To an appreciate roar from the Helphire Stand, James knocked over the conversion from the touchline.

If the game was slipping away from Bristol, it disappeared out of sight when Haydn Thomas was sin-binned within two minutes of replacing the injured Perry at scrum-half. Three put-ins at the scrum resulted in successive penalties for the home side and inevitably a penalty try awarded by referee David Rose - along with a bonus point.

James converted and also added the points when Daniel Browne, on as replacement for Jonny Faamatuainu, waltzed through the Bristol line for the fifth try on the hour.

When Thomas returned to the action shortly afterwards it was a lost cause, with Bath 35-8 ahead.

There was still time for Crockett to add a sixth, profiting from a sublime change of pace by another replacement, Nick Abendanon. The skipper still had plenty to do but showed a clean pair of heels to the chasing defenders and James kicked his sixth conversion.

Head coach Steve Meehan was able to give all of his bench a run-out, including young front row Mark Lilley, son of former Rec favourite Chris who was in the crowd. Unfortunately the hooker dislocated a finger with his first taste of the action - and just before he was supposed throw in at a line-out. But he insisted on having the finger put back and then found his jumper with a perfect throw!

Meehan was quietly satisfied after a rather mixed bag of results in recent weeks, including the draw at home to rivals London Irish.

"The first half was a reflection of the training we have put in this week when we didn't overload the players," he said. "The second half was a result of sticking with the plan. I thought our midfield gave us a lot of direction. We were able to move the ball wide - and the passing was pretty accurate.

"We are now going to have three days off and come back on Wednesday to prepare for our trip to Saracens next weekend."

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