Bath Rugby burst back into Aviva Premiership action with a barn-storming bonus point win over Worcester Warriors at the Recreation Ground this afternoon, final-score 32-9.
A tight first-half saw the two sides go in just four points apart, but in the later 40 minutes Bath opened up, spreading the ball wide and at pace, and scoring 19 unanswered points on their way to victory.
The home side set the tone early, applying pressure to the Worcester defence from the outset.
The first try came with just five minutes gone on the clock, courtesy of scrum-half Peter Stringer. Ben Skirving picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and charged towards the line. The ball was recycled and sent wide to Abendanon who jinked his way towards the line. He offloaded to Biggs who took play up to the line, with Stringer on hand to gather the ball and dart over from short-range. 5-0.
The Warriors weren't content to let Bath have it all their own way however, and were working hard to break through the defence. They were awarded a penalty, which fly-half Danny Gray sent to touch. Winger David Lemi looked to have crossed the line, only for the try to be ruled out due to a forward pass. Referee Wayne Barnes did however award the visitors another penalty, which Gray sent cleanly through the posts to reduce the deficit. 5-3.
Bath maintained their early pressure though, building momentum patiently in the Worcester half. With 23 minutes gone on the clock, a Bath lineout five metres out and subsequent drive saw Worcester lock Dean Schofield sent to the sin-bin for an infringement at the maul. Bath immediately took advantage of the extra man. They opted for a second line-out, heaved forward with a powerful driving maul, and Rob Webber burrowed over for his first try in Bath colours, on his first Premiership appearance for the Club. 10-3.
As before though, Worcester came back at the home side, and another successful penalty from Gray edged them closer on the scoreboard. 10-6.
As the first-half wound down, Gray and Donald exchanged another penalty a piece, as Worcester stubbornly held on to stay within four points as the two sides went in at the break.
Half-time score Bath Rugby 13 – Worcester Warriors 9.
The visitors came out on the front foot at the start of the second-half, forcing their way up the pitch into the Bath half. Under pressure, the home side infringed one too many times for Barnes's liking, and Dave Attwood was shown a yellow card. Worcester forced a series of scrums, and had prop Aleki Lutui held up over the line, before Barnes blew his whistle and signalled a Bath penalty, much to the home crowds delight.
Bath took immediate advantage as well, with the ball being spread wide from the line-out. Donald supplied the ball to Kyle Eastmond, who floated a lovely pass out to the flying Tom Biggs on the wing. The Saxons star shifted in the air, collected the ball and stepped the Worcester defender to sail over in the corner from outside the 22.
The all-important bonus point try came courtesy of Horacio Agulla, with Eastmond once again playing provider. The centre, having received a neat pass from replacement Tom Heathcote, went on a surging run, lofted a superb cut-out pass to the winger who stepped inside and dived over the line. Heathcote added the conversion, extending the lead to 16 points. 25-9.
And it was Agulla who scored the final try of the game. Worcester were down to 13 men having had both Craig Gillies and David Lemi sent to the naughty step for foul play and a deliberate knock-on respectively, and it looked as if Biggs was going to sneak over for his second, only for some desperate Worcester defending to bundle him into touch.
Heathcote took the ball deep into the 22, saw the gap out wide and chipped a sublime ball for Agulla to run onto. The Argentinian gathered the ball and slid over in the corner for his second try of the game, and Bath's fifth. Heathcote sealed the win with the conversion.
Final score – Bath Rugby 32 – Worcester Warriors 9.