Bath Rugby turned on explosive display and sent Cardiff Blues back to Wales pointless, final score 29-19.
A wet and windy Guy Fawkes Friday evening set the backdrop for Bath's first encounter in the LV=Cup. A dedicated Bath crowd of 11,911 (the second ever largest crowd in the Club's history) filled a sodden Rec with the sound of fireworks going off all around the city.
Bath took the lead with an early try from captain Matt Banahan, who powered his way through the Blues' defence after a break from Ross Batty opened up the defence. Ollhy Barkley made ease of kicking the extra two points. 7-0.
Slippery conditions made any thoughts of slick passing rugby a distant thought. Cardiff regained composure from the kick-off and made the deficit back to four after Bath were found guilty of offside at the ruck. Blues fly-half Gareth Davies stepped up and converted the penalty. 7-3.
Shortly after Bath found themselves on the wrong side of the referee again, after being accused of not releasing the player. Davies fired the ball between the posts to make the score 7-6.
Bath full-back Jack Cuthbert initiated the next try, after a great up and under in which he followed it up and forced a turnover. Mark McMillan provided Barkley with quick ball, who in turn showed brilliant vision with a cross field kick in which Tom Biggs' blistering pace enabled him to run on and touch down in the corner. Barkley found the posts from out wide. 14-6.
Mirroring the last restart, Bath again were deemed offside by the match official and Davies increased his personal, and the Blues', tally to nine. The Blues seemed to be gaining composure and after a well placed kick down field, a foot race began with Bath's Biggs against the Blues' Dan Fish. Some great covering defence from Bath followed, but scrum half Lloyd Williams' quick thinking enabled fly-half Davies to touch down in the corner. As Cardiff's only point scorer so far, Davies added the conversion to take the visitors two points ahead. 14-16.
With just over five minutes left in the half, Bath were rewarded for their excellent play in horrendous conditions. They exerted pressure on the Blues defence and the visitors couldn't get back on side quickly enough after Bath looked to move the ball fast. Barkley added three points to put Bath ahead and back in the game. 17-16.
Unsatisfied with the score line as it was at the close of the half, Bath went on another surge and with a defence on the back foot Barkley held back in the pocket and nailed a drop-goal through the posts to take the home side four points in front going in at half time. 20-16.
Bath hit the ground running in the second half and appeared to be the team taking control of an increasingly wet and slippery game. Confidence in the team was strong and the changes made showed that, with Chris Cook coming on for McMillan and Aaron Jarvis for Duncan Bell.
The Blues looked like they were beginning to crumble under the might of Bath pressure and persistent infringement led the referee to reach for the yellow card, with Blues prop John Yapp going to the bin. Barkley capitalised and in hard conditions, struck the ball beautifully to take Bath to 23-16.
However, the Blues, like Bath, were not ready to give up yet and after a great break on the half way line, Cardiff found themselves on Bath's try line with the home side stretched in defence. However, a try was prevented but three points inflicted, as Bath were penalised for infringement. 23-19.
Bath returned from the kick-off even more focused on increasing their lead to more than a converted try. Barkley increased the lead once again, after Blues were found guilty of infringement at the breakdown. With just over ten minutes remaining the same situation happened again and Barkley again didn't miss. Final Score 29-19.