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Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Saturday, 16 October 2010 15:24 UK

Aironi Rugby 6-22 Bath

Aironi (3) 6
Pens: Mercier (2)
Bath (17) 22
Tries: Biggs, Carraro, Abendanon, Watson Con: Barkley

Salvatore Perugini (let) and Olly Barkley
Barkley (right) breaks free of Aironi's Salvatore Perugini

Bath secured a comfortable bonus-point win against Italian side Aironi to kick-start their Heineken Cup campaign.

Bath, who lost their Pool Four opener against Biarritz, scored four tries through Tom Biggs, Matt Carraro, Nick Abendanon and skipper Luke Watson.

Ex-Gloucester fly-half Ludovic Mercier kicked two penalties for the home side.

Bath's victory at the Stadio Luigi Zaffanella brought an end to their unwanted record run of four consecutive losses on the road in Europe.

Bath struck first in the 11th minute as quick ball off the top of a line-out 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 touch down in the corner.

Olly 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 possession in the first quarter but a mix-up on their own 22 by Danwel Demas and Giulio Rubini gifted possession to Bath and wing Carraro eventually burrowed over.

Aironi number eight, Nick Williams, burst through the Bath midfield soon after the restart and only a thumping tackle from Abendanon stopped him from scoring, and led to Williams being escorted off the pitch.

Bath grabbed their third try five minutes before the break, Abendanon receiving another missed pass from Barkley and a poor challenge by Mercier allowing him to surge into Aironi's half.

There followed some neat interplay before man-of the-match Abendanon finished off what he had started, touching down beneath the posts. Barkley made no mistake with the extras this time and Bath were 17-3 to the good.

The Aironi pack came surging back after the break but with the forwards having done all the hard work their backs botched a try-scoring opportunity, a pass from Mercier drifting aimlessly between his centres.

The Italians finally turned their second-half pressure into points in the 55th minute when Bath infringed at a ruck and Mercier stepped up to slot a straightforward penalty.

The try that clinched the extra point for Bath came with 10 minutes to go when Aironi wing Giulio Toniolatti was forced to take the ball into touch on his own five-metre line and the Bath pack engineered an unstoppable driving maul from the resulting line-out, with Watson emerging from the heap of bodies with the ball.

Lock Danny Grewcock was forced off after half an hour because of a rib injury and is a doubt for next week's trip to Leicester.

Bath head coach Steve Meehan:
"Winning quality ball gave us an opportunity to get into the game but we didn't make as much of those opportunities as we should have.

"But it was good to see the likes of Nick Abendanon and Tom Biggs running with ball in hand today.

"It was very important for us to win away from home after last week's result. We've got five points and that gives us a chance. The set-piece was better in the first half, but not so tidy in the second."

Aironi: Danwel Demas, Giulio Toniolatti, Rodd Penney, Gilberto Pavan, Giulio Rubini, Ludovic Mercier, Pablo Canavosio, Nick Williams, Andrea Benatti, Jaco Erasmus, Quintin Geldenhuys (c), Marco Bortolami, Luca Redolfini, Fabio Ongaro, Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: Roberto Santamaria, Ulises Gamboa, Alberto De Marchi, Carlo Del Fava, Simone Favaro, Tito Tebaldi, Matteo Pratichetti, Riccardo Bocchino

Bath: Nick Abendanon, Tom Biggs, Ben Williams, Olly Barkley, Matt Banahan, Sam Vesty, Michael Claassens, Simon Taylor, Luke Watson (c), Andy Beattie, Danny Grewcock, Stuart Hooper, David Wilson, Pieter Dixon, Nathan Catt.
Replacements: Ross Batty, David Flatman, Duncan Bell, Ignacio Fernandez-Lobbe, Ben Skirving, Mark McMillan, Matt Carraro, Jack Cuthbert.

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see also
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Ulster 30-6 Aironi
08 Oct 10 |  Ulster
Bath 11-12 Biarritz
10 Oct 10 |  Bath
Rugby union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2010/11
29 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union

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