Leroy Houston crossed over twice as Bath Rugby’s second-half onslaught saw them surge back into the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final places with a bonus-point triumph over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium.
Despite a spirited performance from the hosts that saw tries for Nic Reynolds and Opeti Fonua, this defeat ensures the Exiles will finish 12th in Aviva Premiership Rugby this year.
The visitors made an imposing start as Rob Webber touched down from close range and Houston skipped away to score his first, only for the Exiles to respond through Reynolds’ effort.
With the score poised at 10-7 at the break, Bath seized control as Sam Burgess capped a promising display with his second Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season before Houston completed his double and Alafoti Fa’osiliva also went over.
Early pressure from the visitors saw them secure a lineout deep in Exiles territory after Ollie Devoto kicked a penalty to the corner, only for Bath to knock on near the try line.
The hosts thought they had cleared their lines after the resulting scrum, but referee Thomas Foley asked the TMO to investigate potential foul play, with Bath eventually awarded a penalty.
The West Country side opted for a scrum and once again went close to crossing over, only for Burgess, lining up at outside centre, to be penalised for holding on.
Devoto then opted for the corner once more as Welsh infringed at a scrum near halfway and Rob Webber dotted down in the corner after Bath set up the rolling maul.
With the wind swirling around the Kassam Stadium, fullback Tom Homer saw his conversion attempt drop short of the posts as it remained 5-0 to Bath after 12 minutes.
The Exiles responded with a spell of pressure but on 23 minutes, Bath secured another lineout in the hosts’ 22, allowing Leroy Houston to dart up the left wing and touch down, with Homer’s conversion attempt again blown off target.
Yet just three minutes later, Welsh reduced the arrears as centre Reynolds went over from close range and Tristan Roberts converted to make it 10-7.
Bath then secured a series of lineouts in the Exiles’ 22, with the sustained pressure telling as Welsh prop Nathan Trevett was sent to the bin for collapsing a maul.
But despite going a man down, Welsh held firm to eventually win a free-kick at a scrum and clear their lines as they remained just three points behind at the interval.
Following the restart, cross-code star Burgess demonstrated his continuing progress in rugby union as he forced a turnover at the breakdown on halfway.
And after Bath stole the ball from the subsequent lineout, Burgess barged over to score, with Homer adding the extras to make it 17-7 on 48 minutes.
The visitors were now looking for a fourth try to secure a vital bonus point as Devoto repeatedly kicked to the corner.
Although Bath were able to drive over the Exiles line after a five-metre lineout, great defence by the hosts ensured the ball was held up and Foley awarded an attacking scrum instead of a try.
But the visiting pack’s dominance in the set piece soon told as Houston picked up the ball from the base of a scrum to force his way over, securing his second try and the extra point.
Homer missed the extras but made no mistake moments later as Carl Fearns intercepted a Welsh pass to offload to Matt Garvey, who found Fa’osiliva on his shoulder to score – Homer’s conversion making it 29-7.
Yet the hosts responded with an impressive lineout move of their own as a catch and drive from close range saw Fonua touch down and Will Robinson land a superb touchline conversion on 74 minutes.
But there was to be no late surge for the hosts as lock Dean Schofield was shown a yellow card as the clock ticked into the red.
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