Aviva Premiership: Bath with bonus point win over London Irish
Bath scored five first half tries on their way to a 33-18 bonus point win over London Irish at The Rec.
Last Updated: 28/09/13 6:40pm
Flanker Guy Mercer scored two tries to go along with one each from Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Rob Webber, as Bath built up a 33-10 lead at half time - but they failed to add a single point to that tally in the second half.
Shane Geraghty scored all of Irish's points, including two tries, a conversion and two penalties as the visitors fought back gamely.
Bath had forced three penalties in as many minutes before Joseph, the England centre who left Irish for Bath during the summer, touched down for the opening try after just six minutes.
Geraghty responded with a penalty on 11 minutes, but a quick onslaught was to come from the hosts, as Mercer crossed for his first try on 19 minutes when Ford took a quick line-out to put his flanker over unopposed before then adding the conversion.
The 20-year-old playmaker then showed yet another side to his game as he broke brilliantly from 60 metres, evading Tom O'Leary and just managing to ground the ball despite Marland Yarde's last-ditch tackle. The conversion was his too and Bath were 21-3 ahead with just 27 minutes played.
A couple of minutes later, Ford's inch-perfect penalty kick to the corner allowed Webber to score from a conventional catch-and-drive.
For once, Ford's conversion was miss-hit and he then allowed Geraghty to drive over and through him in the opposite corner to claim the Exiles' first try, expertly converted by the fly-half.
But Bath claimed a four-try bonus point after the visitors' defence went AWOL on the right and Mercer scored again, with Ford converting.
As if a 33-10 deficit was not a tough enough hill to climb, Irish hooker David Paice was yellow-carded on the stroke of half-time for retaliation.
Geraghty pulled back three point two minutes after the restart but Bath, despite losing another second row, Dominic Day, to an ankle injury, just moved the versatile Matt Garvey up into the second row.
Bath enjoyed very little possession, too often spilling the ball that did come their way while the Exiles were far more competitive in the line-out and at the breakdown.
The reward for a far more committed second-half performance came on 68 minutes when Geraghty claimed a try on the left after taking advantage of a rebound. But his conversion attempt was wide and Bath still led 33-18.
With fresh legs on the field, the home side roused themselves for the last 10 minutes but lacked the accuracy of their first-half display.