Bath blow Bristol aside
CHALLENGE CUP THURSDAY WRAP: Rhys Priestland marvellous kicking display ensures Bath ease to a 22-6 victory against Bristols in a hotly-contested derby at the Recreation Ground.
Bristol produced a stern defensive effort but rarely looked like preventing hosts Bath from a second win in six days in the European Rugby Challenge Cup after trailing from the seventh minute and were not helped by being briefly reduced to 13 men in the second half.
In Thursday's other results Stade Francais Paris got back to winning ways with a 27-0 win against Timisoara Saracens, while La Rochelle followed up their five try win in Italy against Benetton Treviso with an even bigger haul against Bayonne in their 51-24 victory.
We take a look at all Thursday's action!
Bath 22-6 Bristols Rugby
Bristol flyhalf Billy Searle made a lively start but it was opposite number Priestland who picked up where he left off against Pau last week as he kicked Bath into an early 6-0 lead.
Bristol's scrum impressed handing fullback Jordan Williams a platform to attack while Bath had the real impact in the shape of Matt Banahan and Aled Brew.
Yet neither side could find a way through two resilient defences as Searle clawed back three points before Priestland landed two more penalties, after Tom Homer missed from distance, to give the hosts a hard-fought 12-3 lead at half-time.
They came closest to extending that six minutes into the second half when a mistake by Bristol at a lineout almost let Bath in but the visitors managed to stop Banahan in his tracks close to the line.
Bristol boss Robinson turned to veteran fly-half Geraghty, signed this week from London Irish, to help steer his side back into the game and he immediately pulled back three points, thanks to the scrum.
Priestland kicked a fifth penalty after Zach Mercer burst clear and the growing pressure brought two yellow cards.
Jack Tovey was first for infringing at a ruck and Geraghty followed for a no-arms tackle on Brew, leaving Bristol with 13 men for two minutes. Tovey returned but his spill in midfield allowed Banahan to race clear for the game's only try in the final seconds.
Pens: Priestland 5
Pens: Searle, Geraghty
Yellow cards: Jack Tovey (Bristol Rugby), Shane Geraghty (Bristol Rugby)
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Jeff Williams, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Aled Brew; 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Homer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Michael Van Vuuren, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Shaun Knight, 18 Kane Palma Newport, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Dan Bowden, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jonathan Fisher, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 James Phillips, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Kyle Traynor
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 James Hall, 19 Giorgi Nemsadze, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Jack Wallace
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Joy Neville (Ireland) Clare Daniels (England)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Stade Francais Paris 27-0 Timisoara Saracens
Having conceded 59 points and nine tries against Edinburgh on their European debut last weekend on home soil, the Timisoara would have travelled with a bit of fear and trepidation given the reputation and resource of the TOP 14 side.
But they emerged with huge credit for their effort over the 80 minutes as they restricted the Parisians to four tries. They tackled themselves to a virtual standstill and had to spend 10 minutes with 14 men in the third quarter.
Jules Plisson dummied his way over in the second minute for the first home try to launch what everyone expected to be a points fest, but it didn't turn out that way. Morne Steyn added the conversion and then kicked a penalty
Faraj Fartass then capped his debut with a 16th minute try after being called in at the last minute to replace Julien
Arias. Steyn again supplied the conversion, but the Springbok couldn't provide the extras to a third try from Djibril Camara midway through the first half.
Having scored at more than a point a minute in the opening 20 everyone thought there would be more of the same as the game progressed, but as the Romanians settled into the pace of the game they thwarted the home effort for long and longer periods.
The scoreline stayed at 22-0 up to half-time and Stade were only able to add one more try in the second half, through Sylvain Nicholas in the 52nd minute, even though the Saracens lost Madalin Lemnaru to the sin-bin on the hour.
For Stade Français:
Tries: Plisson, Fartass, Camara, Nicolas
Cons: Steyn 2
For Timisoara Saracens: None
Yellow card: Madalin Lemnaru (Timisoara Saracens)
Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Théo Millet, 12 Jules Plisson, 11 Ratu Alipate Ratini, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Clement Daguin, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Sekou Macalou, 5 Pascal Papé, 4 Mathieu De Giovanni, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 Laurent Panis, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Emmanuel Felsina, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Raphael Lakafia, 21 Arthur Coville, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Faraj Fartass
Timisoara Saracens: 15 Catalin Fercu, 14 Fonovai Tangimana, 13 Brian Sefanaia, 12 Jack Umaga, 11 Stephen Shennan, 10 Jody Rose, 9 Valentin Calafeteanu, 8 Sandu Stelian Burcea, 7 Vasile Rus, 6 Randall Morrison, 5 Valentin Poparlan, 4 Ionut Muresan, 3 Edmund Aholelei, 2 Andrei Radoi, 1 Gigi Militaru
Replacements: 16 Eugen Capatina, 17 Sione Taupaki, 18 Samuel Maris, 19 Marian Gorcioaia, 20 Madalin Lemnaru, 21 Daniel Vladut Zaharia, 22 Daniel Ianus, 23 Tevita Manumua
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: John Meredith (England), Peter Allan (England)
La Rochelle 51-24 Benetton Treviso
Going so well in the TOP 14 this season, the home side got off to a flying start with a try in the second minute from Romain Sazy. It just got better and better in a first half that saw La Rochelle race into a 36-10 interval lead.
There were four more tries to savour in a blistering first half performance that saw the home side bag the bonus point with their fourth try in the 33rd minute. Fullback Charles Bouldoire picked up two of them and skipper Jason Eaton chipped in with another.
Wing Steve Barry then added the fifth on the stroke of half-time to leave his side in total control. Brock James added three conversions and also kicked a penalty.
Bayonne battled to cross the home line midway through the first half when wing Martin Laveau was sent racing in for a score that Lucas Meret improved. Meret also kicked a penalty and then converted a try two minutes after the break from lock Pablo Huete that cut the gap to 19 points.
Two tries in the space of three minutes then put La Rochelle firmly back in charge on the scoreboard as replacement outside half Arthur Retiere and wing Botia Veivuke crossed for unconverted scores. Leo Cedaro then added the eighth try to bring up the half-century.
Zach Holmes picked up a yellow card with five minutes left to play and that enabled Bayonne to have the final word with a penalty try that Guillaume Rouet converted. Now La Rochelle face back to back games with Gloucester in December to determine whether or not they have got what it takes to progress.
For La Rochelle:
Tries: Sazy, Bouldoire 2, Eaton, Barry, Retiere, Botia, Cedaro
Cons: James 4
Tries: Laveau, Huete, Penalty Try
Cons: Meret 2, Rouet
Yellow card: Zach Holmes (La Rochelle)
La Rochelle: 15 Charles Bouldoire, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Elliot Roudil, 12 Kini Murimurivalu, 11 Steve Barry, 10 Brock James, 9 Anthony Fuertes, 8 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 7 Romain Sazy, 6 Jason Eaton, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Luc Mousset, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Mike Corbel
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Vincent Pelo, 18 Mohamed Boughanmi, 19 Leo Cedaro, 20 Afa Amosa, 21 Arthur Retiere, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Botia Veivuke
Bayonne: 15 Ryan Tongia, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Adam Whitelock, 12 Thibault Lacroix, 11 Bastien Fuster, 10 Lucas Meret, 9 Bastien Duhalde, 8 Pieter Jan Van Lill, 7 Dion Evrard Oulai, 6 Jean-Jo Marmouyet, 5 Pablo Huete, 4 Guillaume Ducat, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Gregory Arganese, 1 Jérôme Schuster
Replacements: 16 David Menage, 17 Adrien Bordenave, 18 Richard Choirat, 19 Adam Jaulhac, 20 Guillaume Rouet, 21 Maile Mamao, 22 Julien Jane, 23 Jean-Blaise Lespinasse
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: Keith Lewis (England)