Bath bounceback in Italy
October 16, 2010
Tom Biggs turns to celebrate his opening try with his Bath team-mates
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Bath got their Heineken Cup campaign back on track with a 22-6 bonus-point victory over Aironi at the Stadio Luigi Zaffanella on Saturday afternoon.
Steve Meehan's men reacted to the disappointment of a narrow defeat to Biarritz on the opening day of the competition with an easy victory that included tries from Tom Biggs, Matt Carraro, Nick Abendanon and Ben Watson. Olly Barkley could only convert one of the tries.
Ex-Gloucester fly-half Ludovic Mercier kicked two penalties for the home side, who enjoyed more ball and territory than the scoreline suggested.
It was first blood to Bath in the 11th minute as the English side executed a glorious first-phase move. Quick ball off the top of a lineout on the halfway line was followed by a missed pass to Abendanon who drew his man and popped the ball to Biggs. The wing then collected his own perfectly weighted chip to score in the corner.
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 with a little over a quarter of the game gone. Bath kept things tight and blasted away around the fringes, which led to Carraro eventually burrowing over.
Aironi No.8 Nick Williams burst through the Bath midfield soon after the restart, and only a thumping tackle from Abendanon stopped him from scoring. Indeed, it briefly stopped Williams from playing a part in proceedings, with medics escorting him off the pitch.
Bath grabbed their third try five minutes before the break. Abendanon was the recipient of another missed pass from Barkley, and a poor challenge by Mercier allowed him to surge into the Italians' half. Neat handling among the backs ensued and Abendanon finished off what he had started, touching down beneath the posts. Barkley made no mistake this time and Bath were 17-3 to the good.
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.
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