Bath bounce back
Bath snap four-game losing run away in Europe as Italians lose at home
Last Updated: 16/10/10 4:33pm
All smiles: Bath win in Italy
Bath bounced back from last week's disappointment with a comfortable bonus-point victory over Italian strugglers Aironi in the Heineken Cup.
The Aviva Premiership side missed a great chance last week when losing at home to Biarritz by just a point, but they made no mistake this week as they ended their record run of four away defeats in European competition.
The West Country side's victory at the Stadio Luigi Zaffanella came with first-half tries from Matt Carraro, man-of-the-match Nick Abendanon and the eye-catching Tom Biggs.
A second-half score skipper Luke Watson gave Bath the spoils and the bonus point, while Olly Barkley slotted home a solitary conversion.
Ex-Gloucester fly-half Ludovic Mercier kicked two penalties for the home side, who enjoyed more ball and territory then the scoreline suggested.
Bath went in front on 11 minutes with a glorious first-phase move from a line-out on halfway followed by a missed pass to Abendanon who drew his man and popped the ball to Biggs to score.
Barkley missed the touchline conversion and Mercier was quick to pull three points back when Bath were caught failing to roll away in the tackle.
The Italian side enjoyed the bulk of ball and possession, but a mix-up on their own 22 by Danwel Demas and Giulio Rubini gifted possession to Bath to allow Carraro to eventually burrow over.
Bath grabbed their third try five minutes before the break, as Abendanon received another missed pass from Barkley, on halfway to star a move which he later finished under the posts.
The Aironi pack set up camp inches from the Bath try line shortly after the resumption. But with the forwards having done all the hard work their backs botched the job at the first attempt, a pass from Mercier drifting aimlessly between his centres.
The Italians finally turned their second half pressure into points in the 55th minute. Bath infringed at a ruck and Mercier stepped up to chip over an easy penalty goal.
Barkley surged through a chink in the Aironi midfield in the 65th minute as Bath chased the bonus point, but the supporting Biggs was penalised for not releasing.
But the try that clinched the extra point came with 10 minutes to go. Aironi wing Giulio Toniolatti was forced to take the ball into touch on his own five-metre line and the Bath pack then engineered an unstoppable driving maul from the resulting lineout, with Watson emerging from the heap of bodies with the ball.