Bath Rugby may have surged to an impressive away triumph over Montpellier in the European Rugby Champions Cup but head coach Mike Ford admits his side could rue not securing a vital bonus point.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby outfit dominated the hosts in muddy conditions at the Altrad Stadium on Friday night to claim a 30-5 victory and maintain the pressure on Pool 4 rivals Glasgow Warriors and Toulouse.
Henry Thomas powered over for Bath’s first try before Montepllier, who had three men sin binned during the game, conceded a penalty try to make it 23-0 at the interval.
Bath added a third through Leroy Houston on 50 minutes as England fly-half George Ford took his tally to 15 points but were unable to find a fourth despite the introduction of Sam Burgess for his European debut.
And Ford is adamant they will show no mercy in search of a bonus-point victory in the return fixture at the Rec next week to keep their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half, we built a score and got a couple of tries right before the break and we were really on top,” he said.
“I unleashed the bench after 50 minutes and I thought we had enough time to get that bonus point. We are unbelievably frustrated that the game turned so scrappy.
“Of course we are disappointed because we need a bonus point because of where we are in the pool, but hopefully Glasgow and Toulouse can take points off each other and we can get a win next week.
"We need both Glasgow and Toulouse to win games, but not get bonus points – I know I'm asking for a lot but anything can happen.
"We need a bonus point next week and we will prepare well. We will pick a strong squad for sure and if we can get a good performance in we can put ourselves in a decent position for January.”
Newcastle Falcons maintained their 100 per cent record in the European Rugby Challenge Cup with a 30-23 bonus-point victory over Stade Francais, leaving director of rugby Dean Richards to relish a dramatic return encounter next week.
Chris Harris and Simon Hammersley scored first-half tries to put the hosts 14-9 up at the break at Kingston Park, with fly-half Morne Steyn kicking all of the visitors’ points.
The French side then went ahead as Julien Thomas touched down but fly-half Tom Catterick kicked his side back into the lead before Sean Robinson and Noah Cato scored to wrap up the extra point.
Krisnan Inu crossed over for Stade in between Robinson and Cato’s efforts to help the visitors score a losing bonus point but Newcastle held on to make it three from three in Pool 3.
And although Richards was frustrated to not completely kill off Stade’s chances of making the next round, he expects his side to rise to the occasion in Paris next week.
“Overall I am delighted with it. There were a lot of good contributions from the young players,” he said.
“Sean Robinson sped in for a try from 20 yards, and it was probably 20 yards further than I ever ran in my own career. Tom Catterick's performance at fly-half was really pleasing, and shows why we highly rate him there.
“It is going to be difficult over in Paris. They will be smarting from Friday's result, and they won't be happy about the fact we got all five points.
“From our side, we were disappointed by the fact they managed to come away from Newcastle with a bonus point.
“That keeps them in with a little bit of a sniff but they have lost two from three now, whereas we are unbeaten. We need to go over there and produce a performance, and take points.”
Montpellier 5 Bath Rugby 30
Tries: Thomas, penalty, Houston
Conversions: Ford 3
Penalties: Ford 2
Drop goal: Ford
Referee: Ian Davies
Newcastle Falcons 30 Stade Francais 23
Tries: Harris, Hammersley, Robinson, Cato
Conversions: Catterick 2
Penalties: Catterick 2
Tries: Tomas, Inu
Conversions: Steyn 2
Penalties: Steyn 3
Referee: Marius Mitrea
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