Bucharest Wolves 17, Bath 40: Ollie Devoto grabs first try in victory
Bath kicked off their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign with a five-try bonus point win over Bucharest Wolves.
Academy fly-half Ollie Devoto bagged his first senior try for the visitors, while Sam Vesty helped himself to a 20-point haul.
Vesty, playing at full-back, secured the lead for Bath inside the first minute with a well-struck penalty. It was an advantage he doubled in the 12th minute after the home side were found guilty of pulling down a strong driving maul from the visitors.
Bath dominated the early exchanges and while Vesty missed with his third penalty attempt, it wasn’t long before they had their first try of the match.
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Devoto, making his maiden 1st XV start, kicked for the corner from a penalty and a well-taken lineout saw the ball moved quickly through the hands in the Bucharest 22. It eventually found Academy lock Will Spencer, who powered over from short range. Vesty’s conversion went over, extending the lead to 13-0 after 23 minutes.
Bucharest had barely made it out of their own half in the opening stages, and it went from bad to worse for the Romanian side as prop Flavius Dobre saw yellow after the referee’s impatience ran out with the persistent indiscipline. Vesty was once more on target with the resulting penalty.
Bath took advantage of the extra man and set about once more applying pressure to the home side. A turnover from Nathan Catt in midfield saw the prop surge forward, offloading to Jack Cuthbert in support. Cuthbert found Biggs outside him and the wing drew the defender and passed neatly inside to Ross Batty, sending the hooker over for the second try of the game. Vesty added the extras, giving Bath a 23-point lead with 35 minutes gone.
Bucharest were not about to let the visitors have it all their own way, however, and when a wel-struck kick gave them a lineout in the Bath 22, they worked their way up to the tryline. Scrum-half Florin Surugiu eventually found a gap in the defence and darted over to score. The conversion was added by Florin Vlaicu, giving them a valuable seven points as the two teams went in at half-time.
The visitors were soon in control of the game again and just five minutes into the second half they had once more breached the Bucharest tryline. Guy Mercer stormed up the field, gaining valuable territory. The ball was worked inside to Devoto, who, seeing the overlap Bath had outside, span the ball to Cuthbert. The centre drew the defence before offloading to Vesty, who went over in the corner. He converted his own try, giving Bath back their 23-point advantage.
Vlaicu put another three points on the board for Bucharest with a well-struck penalty, but with just over 10 minutes remaining Devoto crossed the whitewash for the all-important bonus-point try. Replacement scrum-half Chris Cook took the ball into the Bucharest 22 and found his fellow replacement half-back, Kyle Eastmond, who had come on at fly-half.
Eastmond threw an excellent long pass out to Devoto who darted through the defence to score his first try for Bath and make it 35-10.
Bucharest were still battling hard though, and hit back with a try from their captain Cristian Munteanu with just six minutes left on the clock. Fly-half Michael Wiringi converted it.
After after both Mercer and Bucharest replacement hooker Otar Turashvili were sent to the sin-bin for an off the ball altercation, Kane Palma-Newport scored the final try.
Nick Abendanon, on for Devoto, put in a lovely kick to touch, and the resulting lineout saw a powerful driving maul established. The dominant forwards rumbled on, and Palma-Newport crashed over the line to finish the scoring and seal Bath’s first European victory of the season.
Bucharest Wolves: Vlaicu (Gal 57), Ciuntu, Cazan, Dascalu, Apostol (Fillip 68), Wiringi, Surugiu; Dobre (Boar 51), Radoi (Turashvili 51), Badalicescu, (Dumitru 63), Munteanu, Popirlan, Ion, Mitu, Carpo.
Scorers – Tries: Surugiu, Munteanu, Cons: Vlaicu, Wiringi, Pens: Vlaicu.
Bath: Vesty, Woodburn, Cuthbert (Eastmond 63), Williams, Biggs, Devoto (Abendanon 74), McMillan (Cook 55), Catt, Batty (Sharman 43), Perenise, Spencer, Attwood (Day 63), Skirving, Mercer, Skuse.
Scorers – Tries: Spencer, Batty, Vesty, Devoto, Palma-Newport, Cons: Vesty 3, Pens: Vesty 3.
Referee: Cedric Marchat (France).