Newcastle Falcons endured a nightmare day in the West Country as Bath ran riot at the Rec.
As first halves go, it was about as bad as it gets for the Falcons, who had shipped four tries and gone 32-0 down, losing Chris Harris to injury and Vereniki Goneva to the sin bin.
An encouraging start had seen the men in orange enjoying plenty of early possession, winning a penalty 40 metres out but failing to find the target from the tee. Disciplined defence looked to be giving them a chance against a Bath side who had won at Northampton on opening day, but when George Ford slotted a 13th minute penalty the tables began to turn.
The England fly-half was a superb controlling influence for his side, kicking the corners and doubling his team’s lead via a 22nd minute penalty.
Harris by this stage had already left the field for the Falcons in a state of considerable discomfort, and even when Ford fired wide with a kickable penalty his team maintained their upper hand.
The decisive moment came when Rokoduguni’s solo run and chip ahead started a passage which ended with a penalty try to the home side – Goneva shown a yellow card for his part in the in-goal scramble as both sides frantically tried to claim the loose ball.
During the Fijian’s absence his side would go on to ship a further three tries, Matt Banahan claiming the first of them when a midfield scrum and another chip ahead saw the winger regathering near the line.
Rokoduguni showed his predatory instinct to exploit space and numbers in the right corner during the final few minutes of a dismal half for the visitors, crossing twice in quick succession to build a 32-point half-time buffer.
The interval did little ease the torment of the visitors as a quick tap penalty brought Bath’s fifth try via Kahn Fotuali’I, quickly followed by Dave Atwood scoring down the left from an inside offload.
It was simply a case of restoring some degree of pride for the Falcons in the half-hour which remained, Joel Hodgson and Ben Sowrey helping raise the tempo as Dean Richards turned to his bench.
But it made little difference to the scoreboard, the home side passing the half-century with 14 minutes to spare as Attwood scored his second from another quick tap.
The visitors were denied a consolation when Hodgson’s late effort from an arcing run was pulled back for obstruction during the build-up, Ally Hogg managing to find a way over the try-line with five minutes to go before Elliott Stooke ensured Bath finished on a high.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris (Dominic Waldouck, 9), 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany (Joel Hodgson, 50), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Michael Young, 56); 1 Alex Rogers (Sam Lockwood, 46), 2 Scott Lawson (Ben Sowrey, 46), 3 Jon Welsh (Paddy Ryan, 46), 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty, 6 Evan Olmstead, 7 Will Welch (captain, Ally Hogg, 56), 8 Mark Wilson.
Sin-bin: Vereniki Goneva (30).
Falcons scorers – Tries: Ally Hogg.
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph (Rhys Priestland, 56, Levi Douglas, 62), 12 Max Clark (Jeff Williams, 46), 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i (Chris Cook, 53); 1 Nick Auterac (Beno Obano, 56), 2 Ross Batty (Tom Dunn, 52), 3 Kane Palma-Newport (Max Lahiff, 56), 4 Luke Charteris (Elliott Stooke, 40), 5 Dave Attwood, 6 Charlie Ewels, 7 David Sisi, 8 Zach Mercer.
Bath scorers – Tries: Penalty try, Matt Banahan, Semesa Rokoduguni 2, Kahn Fotuali’I, Dave Attwood 2, Elliott Stooke. Conversions: George Ford 6. Penalties: George Ford. Drop goals: George Ford.
Referee: Ian Tempest. Attendance: 12,412.
Homer, Rokoduguni, Joseph, Clark, Banahan, Ford, Fotuali'i, Auterac, Batty, Palma-Newport, Charteris, Attwood, Ewels, Sisi, Mercer
Replacements Dunn, Obano, Lahiff, Stooke, Douglas, Cook, Priestland, Williams
Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, Socino, Sinoti, Delany, Takulua, Rogers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Witty, Olmstead, Welch, Wilson
Replacements Sowrey, Lockwood, Ryan, Robinson, Hogg, Young, Hodgson, Waldouck
referee: Ian Tempest
assistant: Gareth Copsey
assistant: Simon McConnell
TMO: David Rose