Bath Rugby recorded their biggest ever home European victory this afternoon at the Recreation Ground with a 10 try 67-11 bonus point win over Calvisano to maintain their standing at the top of Pool Four in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Tom Heathcote got proceedings underway with a penalty on the second minute, but it was the Italians who crossed the whitewash first, centre Tommy Castello scoring in the corner after some good pressure from the visitors nearly 20 minutes into the match.
They made Bath work hard in the first half, and it wasn't until the 25th minute that Bath regained the lead, following a superb solo try from debutant Nick Koster. The South African back-row received the ball inside the Bath half from Sam Vesty and showed his pace to sprint away from the chasing defence to cross in the corner. 8-5.
A penalty from Calvisano's captain Paul Griffen on 32 minutes drew the scores level before Bath's patience paid off at the end of the first-half. The home side powered over the line, but didn't ground the ball in the eyes of the referee, who instead awarded a penalty. Heathcote took a quick tap, the ball was spread wide and through the hands of Ryan Caldwell who offloaded to his second row partner Dominic Day, who crashed over for his first try in Bath colours. Heathcote converted, giving Bath a 15-8 lead at half-time.
Despite having the lead, there was room for improvement from the Bath ranks, and an early second-half penalty from Griffen was the last time that Calvisano would be given the opportunity to further their score.
Bath hit back immediately after the penalty, with Koster becoming the distributor. The South African broke through the Calvisano defence and found Josh Ovens in support on his shoulder. Ovens took the ball well and powered his way to the try-line, stretching over to score. Heathcote added the conversion, giving Bath an 11 point advantage.
From then on, the tries came thick and fast, as the home side went on to score a further 45 unanswered points.
Guy Mercer, captaining the senior side for the first time, added his own score – the all-important bonus point try - five minutes after Ovens's score. A strong driving line-out pushed the visitors back towards their own line, with Mercer crashing over to ground the ball. 27-11.
Just a minute later and Bath were once again crossing the try-line, as Man of the Match Horacio Agulla scored the first of his brace. Kyle Eastmond broke the line and, sensing Agulla outside him, offloaded to the Argentinian who raced away to dive over for his first try for the Club. Heathcote added the extra two.
Scrum-half Mark McMillan was next to add his name to the score-sheet, following another good break from Eastmond. The winger found Jack Cuthbert who chipped ahead, with Agulla cleverly gathering. The ball was re-cycled , and McMillan pounced from short range. Heathcote was again on target with the conversion, adding to his personal tally of 17 points from the tee.
Two minutes later and Agulla showed some stunning skill to score his second. He weaved his way through the Calvisano defence before chipping ahead. He neatly gathered his own kick and glided over the line. The conversion was good again from Heathcote, and it took the score to 48-11 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Bath were increasingly dominating proceedings, and when lock Jaco Erasmus was sin-binned for the visitors as the home side were pushing from five metres out, it seemed just a matter of time before another try would come.
The home side kept applying the pressure, and it looked like Eastmond had worked his way over for a try of his own. However, the referee disagreed and brought play back for an earlier infringement. Bath opted for the scrum, sent the Calvisano pack reeling backwards and were awarded the penalty try. Heathcote sent the conversion through the posts, taking Bath's points tally to 55.
Replacement prop Kane Palma-Newport crashed over from short range for Bath's ninth try after another dominant scrum, before replacement lock Dave Attwood dived over to round the scoring off with the last play of the game. Heathcote added conversions to both tries, with the last sealing Bath's biggest ever victory in European competition.
Final score – Bath Rugby 67 – Calvisano 11.