Four tries for Banahan as Bath smash Aironi

Matt Banahan scored four tries for Bath as his team smashed Italian team Aironi 55-16 in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup at the Recreation Ground.

The 1998 Heineken Cup winners put eight tries past tournament newcomers Aironi at The Rec on Saturday afternoon as they recorded their third straight win of 2011.

The 55-16 triumph on home soil is highly unlikely to have a significant bearing on their hopes of a quarter-final berth in Europe’s premier competition but Meehan is hopeful it is a sign of things to come.

“We’ve been saying for a little while that a big performance was just around the corner,” said Meehan as his men put the disappointment of October’s back-to-back defeats to Ulster behind them in convincing style.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had to dog out victories. We played well last weekend against Leeds without getting all the rewards that we deserved. But today a lot of things came together.

“There were some cracking tries. Some of the speed in our game and our skill execution, and some of the passing selections and support lines, were brilliant.

“If you want to be critical there were definitely some points left out there, but let’s concentrate on the positives and enjoy some fantastic rugby today.

“It sets us up nicely and there’s a good mood here. We are on an upward trend, which is nice.”

After a disappointing campaign up until this afternoon’s result, Bath still have a chance of continuing their European dream, although that opportunity is more likely to come in the form of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Meehan’s men could still make the last eight of the continent’s top competition but it is highly improbable they will do so. Bath would need a bonus-point win in Biarritz to be accompanied by an Ulster defeat to Aironi in which the Irish side would have to leave Italy empty handed.

But a quarter-final place in the Amlin remains a real possibility, although a victory at last season’s beaten Heineken Cup finalists is still a pre-requisite.

“We will go down there and give it everything we’ve got,” added Meehan.

“We’ve just got to continue on the upward trend and enjoy ourselves.

“You can’t rely on results from anyone else. All we can do is play our game.”

One area of concern for Meehan ahead of the trip to France could be the fitness of a number of his key players.

A trio of Bath stars left the field early against Aironi, with full back Nick Abendanon departing before half-time with cramp in his quad, fly-half Butch James being withdrawn after a tightening in his buttock and openside flanker Lewis Moody limping off with a knee injury.

Final Score Bath 55-16 Aironi Rugby


Tries:Biggs 2, Watson 2, Banahan 4
Penalties: Barkley
Conversions: Barkley 6

Tries: Sole
Penalties: Marshall 3
Conversions: Marshall

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)


Bath Rugby: N Abendanon, M Banahan, O Barkley, S Hape, T Biggs, B James, M Claassens, D Barnes, P Dixon, D Wilson, S Hooper, J van der Giessen, B Skirving, L Moody, L Watson [capt].

Replacements: R Batty, D Bell, A Jarvis, I Fernadez Lobbe, J Ovens, C Cook, S Vesty, J Cuthbert

Aironi Rugby: J Laharrague, G Pavan, R Penney, G Pizarro, M Pratichetti, J Marshall, P Canavosio, S Perugini, L Ferraro, L Gamboa, J Furno, C del Fava [capt], J Sole, A Benatti, G Krause

Replacements: F Ongaro, M Aguero, A de Marchi, M Bortolami, S Favaro, M Wilson, R Bocchino, G Venditti


With thanks to ERCRugby

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