Quite noticeably the fixture list for Bath Rugby this season will be missing the Heineken cup, a loss that will sadden many a supporter.......but At least there's the Amlin Challenge Cup. It may not be top flight European rugby but it still means the Blue, Black and White roaming army can flit off to foreign climes for hope of some European victory.
So who will Bath be facing in this fresh challenge- Agen, Bucharest Wolves and Cammi Rubgy Calvisano.
After a loss to local rivals Gloucester in the premiership Bath wanted to return to winning ways and show what they are really about this season. A two week premiership break lay ahead in which they were going to have a little European wander.
Their first fixture sees them off for a nifty little jaunt of 1730miles to Bucharest in Romania to play their team the Wolves. A little bit of an unknown quantity, so how much resistance will they show Bath?
Vesty honoured with the duties of the boot started the ball rolling in the first minute, starting how he meant to go on by taking an early three points. A show of dominant play ensued for Bath and Vesty added a further three to the board 12 minutes in.
Ollie Devoto gifted with his first start to Bath nailed a penalty kick into touch well into Wolves territory putting Bath firmly on the front foot. A well taken lineout saw the ball swiftly distributed through the hands (it can be done) finally ending in the hand of young Will Spencer who obliged in scoring Bath's first try. With Vesty adding the extra two points Bath were 0-13 to the good 23 minutes in to the game.
The referee eventually lost his patience with the Wolves prop's undisciplined behaviour and dispatched him to 10 minutes in the sin bin. Vesty took another three points to the away teams increasing score.
As Bucharest became a man down Bath got the bit between the teeth a certainly wanted to make the advanced count.
Nathan Catt turned the ball over flipped an offload to Cuthbert, who released Biggs and as he drew the defence slipped an offload into the hands of Ross Batty enabling him to score another Bath try. Once again the increasingly confident boot of Vesty nudged Bath up to a 23 point lead after 35 minutes on the clock.
Bucharest found their time just before half-time to finally make their appearance on the score board. A good kick deep into the Bath's 22 saw them with a well placed line out. Resulting in the strong position their scrum half saw a break in the defence and darted through to make the score, with the conversion made the teams made their way back to the changing rooms. A strong half from the travelling team seeing them 7-23 in front.
Bath came back out with all guns blazing determined to go for the bonus point. A rampaging Guy Mercer made up a large chunk of ground. As young Ollie Devote received the ball he eyed a strong overlap spun the ball out to Cuthbert, who took his turn to draw the defence this time he gave the offload to vesty after nipping in at the corner converted his own try.
Bucharest got back on the scoreboard again this time only a penalty and seeing them hit double figures. With 10 minutes left of the 80 an interesting move of bringing the flying winger Kyle Eastmond on at fly half. This seemed to be an inspirational move and helped demonstrate there's more to his game other than just running. A superbly executed long floated pass out to Devoto leaving him to dart through the defence scoring his first try for Bath, the fixture now seeming dead and buddies with the score line hitting 10-35.
Bucharest had a little left in reserve and pushed for more points, an attempt to rescue some respectability. Six minutes left their captain crossed the line leaving their fly half to take the extras.
With a little altercation off the ball both sides were reduced down to 14 men as Mercer and the Wolves hooker got to see the end of the tie from the naughty step.
Bonus point in the bag Bath still wanted more, and more they would collect. Abendanon had come on to replace Devoto and took a nice kick down well into Bucharest territory. With the resulting line out Bath hit a powerful driving maul and Kane Palma-Newport crashed over to give Bath their first win of of the Amlin Challenge cup, and quite a comprehensive one 17-40.
A strong performance and proof that if the ball gets passed out and they play I little more running rugby the tries and bonus points will come, although a weaker than normal opposition a good move forward!!
Next stop south west France to Agen......