Bath moved into GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP play-off territory after brushing aside Worcester at the Recreation Ground.
Bath toppled the Warriors to claim last season’s European Challenge Cup and were again good value for the win – their third in four GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP starts this term.
Worcester never recovered from conceding first-half tries in quick succession to full-back Nick Abendanon and wing Joe Maddock.
That took Bath 17-3 clear and there was no way back for the visitors, despite fly-half Loki Crichton’s penalty hat-trick and a 50-metre effort by wing Chris Pennell.
Pennell also touched down for the visitors but his score was sandwiched by tries for substitute prop Duncan Bell and flanker Michael Lipman that gave Bath a bonus point.
Centre Shaun Berne pouched Bath’s fifth try, while Bath’s South African World Cup winner Butch James kicked two penalties and three conversions, setting up the west country club for next Wednesday’s trip to champions Wasps.
Worcester entertain high-flying Harlequins 24 hours later, having suffered three defeats and collected just five points.
Bath, looking to bounce back from a home defeat against Gloucester two weeks ago, were boosted by the reappearance of fit-again number eight Jonny Faamatuainu.
Worcester fielded the same back division on duty during a 19-17 defeat to Leicester last time out, but injuries sidelined lock Will Bowley and flanker James Collins.
Crichton nudged Worcester ahead through a fourth-minute penalty, yet there was no stopping Bath once they began to secure quality possession.
Referee Rob Debney awarded five successive penalties and free-kicks against Bath inside the opening 10 minutes, which frustrated their attacking instincts.
But everything clicked into gear during a destructive three-minute spell towards the end of a lively opening quarter.
James, who missed five kicks at goal when Bath lost to Gloucester, struck an equalising penalty, then the home side conjured a brilliant try for a side-stepping Abendanon that featured impressive approach work by Maddock and lock Justin Harrison.
James converted and before Worcester could regroup from the restart, Bath struck again.
Wing Jack Cuthbert’s powerful tackle on opposite number Pennell gave Bath momentum, and Maddock cut inside through weak Worcester tackling after scrum-half Michael Claassens freed him in space.
James’ conversion took Bath 14 points clear and despite Crichton booting a second penalty, Worcester found themselves staging a prolonged defensive rearguard as half-time loomed.
Warriors’ cause was hardly helped when centre Dale Rasmussen received a yellow card for illegally halting a Bath attack, then James slotted a fourth successful kick from five attempts before Pennell’s long-range effort made it 20-9 at the break.
Bath were forced into an interval switch when prop David Barnes replaced David Flatman, and Worcester quickly cut the gap to eight points as Crichton completed his penalty hat-trick.
Crichton though, missed a 25-metre sitter just five minutes later that meant Bath still enjoyed a degree of breathing space despite going off the boil.
Bath boss Steve Meehan made a raft of substitutions entering the final quarter, which quickly had the desired effect.
Worcester saw their defence cut open for a third time 15 minutes from the end by another sparkling Bath move that culminated in an elated Bell diving over.
Berne and workaholic skipper Lipman helped make the try possible, leaving Bath to go flat out for a bonus point as Worcester tired.
Worcester gave themselves a glimmer of hope when the impressive Pennell scythed through for a late try which Crichton converted, but Bath deservedly made the final contributions courtesy of a Lipman interception effort and Berne’s try wide out that James improved.