Bath Rugby tonight confirmed their position as number one seeds in the Amlin Challenge Cup with an impressive eight-try, 54-13 win against Bordeaux Begles at the Rec.
The visitors didn't make the perfect start, knocking on in the process of chasing their kick-off. In contrast, Bath, now in possession, delivered the ball to Anthony Watson whose scything run from inside his own 22 only ended when he popped the ball inside for the supporting Tom Biggs to score from 10 metres out. The try, scored within 2 minutes, was converted by George Ford. 7-0.
With five minutes on the clock, Bath failed to roll away from a ruck in their half, and Bordeaux Begles' Manu Saubusse punished the indiscretion with a penalty kick to bring it back to 7-3. It was to be the first of two penalties the scrum-half would score within two minutes, his second a powerful effort from inside his own half. 7-6.
After Ford had gained good territory for Bath through his boot, the forwards took over. An angled run by Dom Day brought the tryline within the home side's grasp. The ball was shipped to Ford, who jinked his way over for his team's second try. Ford converted his own score, and Bath led 14-6.
Three minutes were left before half time, and with Bath plugging away at Bordeaux Begles' line, Leroy Houston spotted Anthony Perenise loitering with intent on the right wing. The number eight threw a perfect cut-out pass to the tighthead, who spun out of the tackle and fended off the defender to score Bath's third try. Ford crafted a great conversion to make it 21-6, which is the how the first half remained.
Half time: Bath Rugby 21 – Bordeaux Begles 6
On 45 minutes, a well-won Bath lineout enabled Ford to pop a quick ball to Jonathan Joseph. The outside centre handed off Bordeaux 12 Jean-Baptiste Lamotte and accelerated from 25 metres out to score the much-needed fourth try for Bath, which Ford converted. 28-6.
Only minutes later, the Bordeaux Begles fullback spilled the ball in his 22. The galloping Day took advantage of the mistake and swept up the ball for Bath's fifth try. Ford's conversion made it 35-6.
Near the hour mark, the returning Semesa Rokoduguni –moments after bouncing off two would-be defenders– received the ball on the halfway line. After outpacing the cover defence, the wing stepped inside the opposition fullback for a try in his first match since November. Ford added the extras and Bath were now in a commanding 42-6 lead.
Nathan Catt, not to be outdone by his teammates in the backs, dashed 50 yards upfield, the ball eventually falling into the hands of Kyle Eastmond to score Bath's seventh try of the evening on 64 minutes. The conversion was wide, but Bath still had much to show for their efforts at 47-6.
Bordeaux Begles scored a consolation try with three minutes left, Gilem Queheille chipping over the top and catching the ball to score with a great piece of skill. They claimed the conversion, and with only two minutes remaining, the game seemed to be coming to an end. 47-13.
Peter Stringer, making his 101st appearance in European rugby, had other ideas. Sniping around the scrum, he unleashed Rokoduguni, who made a challenging try look easy and in the process scored his second brace in as many games. Banahan's successful drop-goal conversion topped off a try-filled evening for Bath, and a job well done.
Bath now wait to discover who they face in a home quarter-final in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Full time: Bath Rugby 57 – Bordeaux Begles 13