Bath Rugby savoured a 39-7 victory against Brive at the Rec this afternoon, in a rematch of the historic 1998 Heineken Cup Final. The six-try victory takes them into the Semi-Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
It took Bath less than ten minutes to lay down their marker, as Matt Garvey sent an unattended Horacio Agulla away inside the Brive half. The livewire Argentinean found time to dummy the covering defender before slamming the ball down for his side’s first try. The conversion by Ford went wide, which meant Bath led 5-0.
Despite Bath evidently having the upper hand through the opening quarter, they didn’t have the points to show for it until the 22nd minute. A misfiring lineout by the home team was salvaged by Matt Banahan, who thundered upfield where a penalty was awarded at the resultant ruck. Ford nailed the penalty to stretch the lead to eight points. 8-0.
A quick tap penalty by Micky Young seven minutes later put Brive on the back foot, with Abendanon on hand to receive the pass from the scrum-half and score Bath’s second try. Ford converted in front of the posts. 15-0.
Semesa Rokoduguni got an opportunity to strut his stuff with just over half an hour gone, reclaiming a bouncing ball and dancing away from the Brive defence to sprint away for Bath’s third try. The missed conversion made it 20-0 to the home side.
Straight from the restart, Agulla received the ball out on his wing and showed a marvellous turn of pace to outsprint his opposite number and score his second try of the half. The difficult angle saw Ford’s conversion attempt miss, but Bath took a commanding 25-0 lead into the changing rooms at half time.
Half time: Bath Rugby 25 – Brive 0
Bath continued the second half in the same rich vein of form they’d shown in the first 40 minutes, wasting no time in gaining good yards that allowed Young to burrow over for a try after two minutes. Making no mistake this time, Ford struck the ball well to add the extra two points. 32-0.
With half an hour still to be played, Ford took the ball on halfway and popped to Abendanon. The increasingly dangerous fullback sucked in the defender, allowing the ever-present Agulla to latch onto Abendanon’s offload and score his hat-trick. Another awkward angle scuppered Ford’s conversion attempt. 39-0.
Despite failing to capitalise on plentiful possession for the remainder of the match, Bath continued to put on a magnificent display of running rugby to the obvious delight of the appreciative crowd.
Brive, in desperate need of a score to appease their visiting supporters, duly touched down after 65 minutes of trying. They did so through number eight Kieran Murphy, the competition’s top ball carrier, who lunged over from close quarters for a consolation score. Inside centre Thomas Laranjeira made an impressive conversion from the left touchline to ensure Brive made it onto the scoreboard for what was an eminently one-sided match against the men in Blue, Black and White.
Full time: Bath Rugby 39 – Brive 7