Bath Rugby ran in 11 tries in front of a sold-out Recreation Ground to take the spoils in emphatic fashion in their derby with Bristol Rugby this afternoon, final score 69-5.
Following a draw midweek against Aviva Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons, the players knew they had to up the stakes to overcome a tough Bristol side in their first pre-season game on home soil.
It didn't take long for Bath to open their account for the day as flanker Mat Gilbert was bundled over after a strong driving maul. Devoto missed the resulting conversion. 5-0
New signing Alafoti Fa'osiliva, one of eight home debutants, was throwing in some booming hits in the midfield to keep the Bristol backs at bay and after some great play by the Samoan and some good hands by Stuart Hooper, Gilbert found himself with an opening to touchdown his second try. 10-0
Bristol were beginning to find a way back into the game, but some brilliant defensive work by Tom Biggs prevented an opening Bristol try as he raced to kick the ball away before Bristol's advancing attack could touch down.
The driving maul was proving a fruitful tactic and after another rumble by the forwards, Gilbert scored his hat-trick try. Devoto was on target with boot to add the extras and take the score to 17-0 after 32 minutes.
Bristol weren't out of this contest though, and scored an impressive try using the entire width of the field as centre Fautua Otto crossed over out wide to finish off the move. Adrian Jarvis couldn't find the target with the conversion.
With the clock ticking over the 40 minute mark, there was still time for Tom Dunn to barge over after a nice move through the backs to take the half-timescore to 22-5.
Both teams made wholesale changes at half-time but it was Bath who came out of the changing rooms firing after the break, Kyle Eastmond showing great skill to perfectly weight a chip ahead to allow Matt Banahan to stroll over the line. George Ford made no mistake from the conversion to move the score to 29-5.
The home side continued to dominate the play, as Semesa Rokoduguni ran in from 30 metres to swallow dive over the line much to delight of the crowd. Ford was once again on target with the conversion. 36-5.
Eastmond wasn't just happy to set up tries however, and scored a good one of his own moments after Rokoduguni had crossed the line. The centre gratefully gathered up a loose Bristol ball and slipped away from two Bristol defenders to notch up the seventh try of the afternoon and leaving Ford with a straight forward conversion for the extras. 43-5.
The Bath forward pack continued to show their strength and the pressure told on the Bristol defence, referee David Rose running between the posts to award the home side the penalty try. The conversion from Ford brought up the 50 point milestone for Bath, and the Blue, Black and Whites were firmly in control of the game.
Ford had a hand in what was probably the try of the game shortly after. The fly-half cleared his lines from deep in his own half, and Rokoduguni showed some blistering pace to sneak up and steal the ball from right under the Bristol defender's nose to cross the line in control of the ball. 55-5.
The rout was complete when Tom Biggs made a late charge for the line after a good gather and offload by Joseph, and it was left to prop David Wilson to have the final say, after a solid Bath lineout then allowed the England international to thump the ball down over the line.
Final score – Bath Rugby 69 – Bristol Rugby 5.
15. Anthony Watson, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Matt Banahan, 12. Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 11. Tom Biggs; 10. Ollie Devoto, 9. Martin Roberts; 1. Charlie Beech, 2. Ross Batty, 3. Anthony Perenise, 4. Stuart Hooper (C), 5. Will Spencer, 6. David Sisi, 7. Mat Gilbert, 8. Will Skuse
16. Tom Dunn, 17. Nathan Catt, 18. Kane Palma-Newport, 19. Matt Garvey, 20. Nick Koster , 21. Chris Cook, 22. Kyle Eastmond, 23. Jonathan Joseph
15. Anthony Watson, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Kyle Eastmond, 11. Matt Banahan; 10. George Ford, 9. Peter Stringer (C); 1. Nathan Catt, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. Dominic Day, 6. Matt Garvey, 7. Guy Mercer, 8. Leroy Houston
16. Ross Batty, 17. Charlie Beech, 18. Anthony Perenise, 19. Will Skuse, 20. Mat Gilbert, 21. Chris Cook, 22. Ollie Devoto, 23. Tom Biggs