England fly-half George Ford kicked 24 points as Bath Rugby consolidated their top-four place with a bonus point victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
Kyle Eastmond’s try and three penalties from the boot of Ford gave Bath a 14-13 lead at half-time, the home side’s points coming from Topsy Ojo’s converted try and two James O’Connor penalties.
Anthony Watson, David Wilson and Matt Garvey crossed in the second half for the visitors with newly-capped England international Ford converting all three and adding another three penalties for his impressive total.
Shane Geraghty’s penalty and Chris Hala’ufia late converted try were the Exiles’ only second-half points as they slipped to their third straight Aviva Premiership defeat.
Before the game London Irish provided a guard of honour to flanker Declan Danaher, the club’s longest serving player in the professional era having joined in 1999, who announced his retirement on Thursday.
The home side started well and a penalty gave them the chance to open the scoring on eight minutes but O’Connor missed the target.
The hosts continued to press, despite Matt Parr’s sin-binning for pulling back Semesa Rokoduguni as the winger looked to chase a loose ball, and Ojo was denied a try on 16 minutes due to a forward pass in the build-up.
Bath could not take advantage of their extra man with Ford’s 20th-minute penalty their only points from the period which were cancelled out by O’Connor.
Ford added another before Ojo burrowed over on 32 minutes for the first try of the game, and his first since the final game of last season, after Geraghty was held up just short of the line.
But Bath replied immediately with a try of their own with rugby league convert Eastmond outsprinting the London Irish defence to finish in the corner after receiving Nick Abendanon’s pass.
O’Connor and Ford again exchanged penalties as Bath held a 14-13 advantage at half-time.
Ford extended the lead to seven points with two penalties early in the second half and he almost played in Watson with a delicate cross-field kick but the winger was snaffled by O’Connor.
Geraghty added a penalty for the home side on 56 minutes but former London Irish flyer Watson scored a second try for the visitors. Abendanon ran from deep inside his own half but appeared to cross with Ollie Devoto in midfield before off-loading for Watson to go over.
Referee Greg Garner consulted with his TMO who ruled there had been no infringement, giving the 20-year-old his fourth try of the season.
Ford converted that try before adding another penalty and Wilson then wrapped up the victory 11 minutes from time when he went over under the posts for his first try of the season.
Replacement Hala’ufia grabbed a late consolation for the hosts before Garvey secured the bonus point in the final minute.