Bonus point slips away from Bath

Bath just missed out on the four try bonus point
Bath just missed out on the four try bonus point

Bath inflicted a stunning 30-5 defeat on Montpellier at a sodden Altrad Stadium last night.

The Aviva Premiership side scored three tries in 50 minutes, but were not able to pick up a priceless fourth to put themselves back in the hunt in Pool four of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Bath came into the game knowing that a third successive defeat would end any slim hopes they still had of going through to the knockout stages.

Defeats in Glasgow and at home against Toulouse had put a major dent in their ambitions in October but head coach Mike Ford said he had not yet given up hope.

The conditions were atrocious and he opening 40 minutes belonged to Bath's England fly-half George Ford who was calmness personified on a miserable night.

He helped his side to build a score, dropping a 30-metre goal and then kicking two penalties, while keeping his team in the right areas.

The Bath scrum was dominant and as the penalties began to mount against the home side, so the frustration began to show in the Montpellier players.

Springbok prop Patric Cilliers crumpled at the first scrum, back-row Antoine Battut made a high tackle on Bath scrum-half Chris Cook and then skipper Thibault Privat followed Battut to the sin-bin for taking out Henry Thomas at a line-out.

Bath kept their cool and made the most of their numerical advantage.

It was Thomas who picked up the first try of the night after some driving play from Alafoti Fa'Osiliva and Ford added the extras from the side of the posts.

Then, no sooner had Privat left the field, the Bath scrum picked up a penalty try that once again Ford converted to bring the half to a rousing end for the visitors.

They maintained their composure the second half and picked up a third try from Leroy Houston after 50 minutes following some smart play up the right touchline.

Ford converted off the touchline and Bath were left with half-an-hour to conjure up the bonus point try.

It did not help the home cause that they picked up a third yellow card when replacement hooker Charles Geli was given 10 minutes on the sidelines for failing to release at the breakdown.

But Bath also lost skipper Stuart Hooper to a yellow card before the end when he was adjudged to have taken a player out in the air at a line-out.

That came after 68 minutes as Montpellier drove a line-out towards line and number eight Alex Tulou went over.

Bath head coach Mike Ford (right) has pledged his side will go for the jugular and all five points in their return match against Montpellier next week.

Ford, whose son George kicked 15 points, said: "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.

"At the start of the second half we were playing really well and scored a great try in the corner.

"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.

"They put their subs on and the two huge props managed to get the balance of the game back in their favour. But at nine o'clock in the morning I would have taken a 3-0 win never mind a 30-5 win.

"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 will try and concentrate on ourselves first and hopefully have a good day at The Rec next Friday night.

"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 and put ourselves in a decent position for January - we will look to get five points next week and see where that takes us."

While Ford was disappointed, Bath's European rugby veteran Peter Stringer, who came on to replace Chris Cook to make his 97th appearance in the top-flight tournament, put the performance into perspective.

"First and foremost we are delighted with the win. It's a tough group, but coming to the south of France and getting four points we have to be happy," said Stringer.

"We put in a good shift in the first half. The conditions are far from ideal to play rugby. We have them again next week which is important and anything can happen."