|Bristol (34) 48|
|Tries: Morahan, Piutau, Uren, Byrne 2, Radradra, Penalty try Cons: Lloyd 4 Pen: Lloyd|
|Bath (3) 3|
Premiership leaders Bristol scored seven tries as they hammered Bath at Ashton Gate to set a new record victory in this long-standing derby fixture.
The game was decided in the first half as the home side scored five tries while Bath lost three players to injury and Rhys Priestland to a yellow card.
Luke Morahan, Charles Piutau and Andy Uren crossed while Brian Byrne got two tries in three minutes against 14 men.
Semi Radradra and a penalty try wrapped up a comprehensive win for the hosts.
Bath’s preparations for this Premiership resumption were undoubtedly hit by having to mistakenly close their training ground last week after erroneous Covid-19 test results. They looked mentally and physically off the pace as Bristol showed no mercy with a ruthless display.
Bath can also point to their injury count as a prime factor in Bristol’s biggest win over them in the 132-year history of this fixture, supplanting a 44-6 triumph over the Blue, Black and Whites at the Memorial Stadium in 1980.
But the visitors had already conceded two tries inside the first seven minutes before a freak clash of heads cost them the services of both locks, Josh McNally and Elliott Stooke.
The two forwards failed their head injury assessments, to be replaced by Mike Williams and Wales and Lions number eight Taulupe Faletau, who had an unexpectedly long run-out before next Sunday’s Six Nations opener against Ireland.
After they then also lost winger Ruaridh McConnochie before the game was barely a quarter old, Bears scrum-half Uren also tiptoed in for an excellent solo try.
Worse was to follow when referee Wayne Barnes adjudged Wales stand-off Priestland had deliberately knocked on – and Byrne took advantage of the extra numbers to score twice in quick succession and secure a four-try bonus point.
Having turned round 34-3 in front, Bristol then took their foot off the gas a little in the second half as Bath’s youngsters admirably stepped up their efforts to limit their hosts to just two more scores , despite a second yellow card for the Blue, Black and Whites – this time for flanker Josh Bayliss.
Centre Radradra crossed for one before a penalty try was awarded by Barnes after he had taken a long look at the TV screen to chalk off one for Will Capon.
Bristol boss Pat Lam:
“It was our best half of attacking rugby. There were so many ways that we attacked. It wasn’t just running. We were dominant up front and mauled too. You can run through, round and over a team, and we did all of that.
“We’ve a long way to go. All we are doing is focusing on our journey, and our journey is to get better, and if we do that the rest will take care of itself.
“The minute we start looking at the table and worry about other teams, they will start to overtake us. It’s a tremendous result, and the first half was extremely pleasing. But it’s one result. We will take the learnings from it and move on to Sale next week.”
Bath boss Stuart Hooper:
“We have work to do. There is no point trying to hide behind this. We have some fantastic individual players, but we are not playing as a team. Individuals across the board need to have a look at their game.
“We had everything thrown at us in that game with changes and decisions, but we still should have been a lot better than we were.
“Adversity is one thing. The way we responded is another. Whoever we have on the field, we expect more than that. We didn’t rely on each other to do the right thing at the right time.”
Bristol: Piutau; Morahan, Radradra, O’Conor, Purdy; Lloyd, Uren; Woolmore, Byrne, Afoa, Attwood, Vui, Luatua (capt), Thomas, Hughes.
Replacements: Capon, Thomas, Armstrong, Holmes, Heenan, Kessell, Sheedy, Leiua.
Bath: De Glanville; McConnochie, Joseph, Matavesi, Hamer-Webb; Priestland, Spencer; Schoeman, Dunn, Judge, McNally (capt), Stooke, Bayliss, Reid, Mercer.
Replacements: Walker, Bhatti, Thomas, Williams, Faletau, Chudley, Redpath, Cokanasiga.
Sin-bin: Priestland (32), Bayliss (54)
Referee: Wayne Barnes.