Bath Rugby complete Italian job with record European win
Match report: BATH RUGBY 67 CALVISANO 11
By Harry Abbott
A record victory in Europe saw Bath Rugby take control of Pool 4 of the Amlin Cup as they ran in a ten-try haul against Italian visitors Calvisano.
The win was built on a dominant second-half display in which Bath racked up 52 points, with the sin-binning of Andrea Lovotti just before the break proving crucial.
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The home side scored four tries in the ten minutes he was off the field, with the game having looked evenly poised at 8-8 prior to the prop's departure.
Even when Calvisano were back to their full complement of players, however, it was too late to stop the rot. The visitors simply had no answer to Bath's attacks, as they took a big step towards the knockout stages.
New Scotland international Tom Heathcote gave Bath the lead with a penalty after just three minutes before, somewhat surprisingly, Calvisano grabbed the game's first try.
The visitors claimed a lineout 20 metres out and proceeded to drive over the line, with hooker Luigi Ferraro emerging from the pack having got the crucial touchdown.
Debutant flanker Nick Koster led the home side's reply, with the new signing from Western Province charging 60 metres to cross in the corner after the two sides had traded kicks from deep.
Heathcote missed the conversion and when Paul Griffen landed a penalty soon after, the scores were level. Parity did not last long, however, with Calvisano's demise beginning when Lovotti was yellow carded a minute before the break.
Bath were quick to capitalise on the man advantage and Dom Day charged over from close range after a quickly-taken penalty, with Heathcote adding the extras.
Although Griffen opened the second-half scoring with a penalty, the home side quickly picked up where they left off after the break, with Koster setting Josh Ovens free for a touchdown.
Captain Guy Mercer was next to cross, with the Bath pack driving over the whitewash following a lineout, before a scintillating break from his own half by Kyle Eastmond gifted Horacio Agulla the first of his two tries.
Lovotti's return to the fold failed to loosen the home side's grip on the game and Mark McMillan touched down after sustained pressure. Agulla then completed his brace with a devastating run from deep, which included a delicate chip over Gullo Palazzani as he finished the score.
Jaco Erasmus then saw yellow as Calvisano repeatedly infringed on their own tryline, with Bath awarded a penalty try soon after as the visitors still refused to heed the warnings.
With the job done, head coach Gary Gold rang the chances and the replacements wasted little time in making an impression of their own. Kane Palma-Newport and Dave Attwood both bludgeoned their way over late on, with Heathcote finishing the game with his seventh conversion of the afternoon.
The win, coupled with the defeat of French side Agen in Bucharest, sees Bath move six points clear at the top of Pool 4.Another performance of this ilk in Italy next week will make them overwhelming favourites to progress, especially with Gold's side finishing the group stages with back-to-back matches at The Rec.
BATH RUGBY: Cuthbert (Devoto 70), Eastmond, Agulla, Vesty (Williams 72), Woodburn, Heathcote, McMillan, Beech (Perenise 60), Sharman (Dunn 70), Wilson (Palma-Newport 70), Day, Caldwell (Attwood 70), Ovens, Mercer, Koster (Skuse 55). Replacement not used: Claassens.
Tries: Koster, Day, Ovens, Mercer, Agulla 2, McMillan, Penalty, Palma-Newport, Attwood Conversions: Heathcote 7 Penalty: Heathcote
CALVISANO: Berne, Canavosio (Bergamo 70), Vilk, Castello, De Jager (Visentin 60), Griffen (Picone 63), Palazzani, Lovotti (Scarsini 40-50), Ferraro (Gavazzi 68), Constanzo (Violi 65), Erasmus, Hehea (Beccaris 77), Brancoli (Cicchinelli 72), Scanferla, Vunisa.
Try: Ferraro Penalties: Griffen 2
Referee: Cedric Marchat