Bristol boss Pat Lam lavished praise on his team’s memorable first-half display after they sunk Gallagher Premiership rivals Bath in record fashion at Ashton Gate.
Bristol’s 48-3 victory was their biggest in the league against their west country rivals.
And that's why @BristolBears are ?
A clinical display to power past @BathRugby at Ashton Gate ?
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 29, 2021
The Premiership leaders, six points clear of second-placed Sale Sharks, ran in tries from hooker Bryan Byrne (2), centre Semi Radradra, full-back Charles Piutau, wing Luke Morahan and scrum-half Andy Uren, while there was also a penalty try.
Fly-half Ioan Lloyd kicked four conversions and a penalty as Bristol made it five successive victories in all competitions and eased past their previous-best Premiership winning margin against Bath.
On the first 40 minutes, when Bristol scored 34 points, Lam said: “I think it was our best half of attacking rugby because there were so many ways that we attacked.
“It wasn’t just running, we were dominant up-front and mauled too. You can run through, round and over a team, and we did all of that.
“We’ve a long way to go. All we are doing is focusing on our journey, and our journey is to get better, and if we do that the rest will take care of itself.
“The minute we start looking at the table and worry about other teams, they will start to overtake us.
“It’s a tremendous result, and the first half was extremely pleasing. But it’s one result. We will take the learnings from it and move on to Sale next week.”
Bath’s preparations for the Premiership resumption were hit by them having to close their training ground after being told last week they were the source of 19 positive Covid-19 tests, only for the league’s testing company to realise a mistake had been made, and the actual figure in Bath’s camp was one.
The disruption clearly affected them, though, and they were off the pace mentally and physically as Bristol showed no mercy with a ruthless display that illustrated an enormous gulf in class.
Rhys Priestland’s first-half penalty proved their solitary scoring effort as first-half injuries and two yellow cards played a part in cutting them adrift.
Bath rugby director Stuart Hooper pulled no punches after seeing his team subside to a crushing defeat.
“We have work to do,” he said. “There is no point trying to hide behind this.
“We have some fantastic individual players, but we are not playing as a team. Individuals across the board need to have a look at their game.”
Bath saw locks Josh McNally and Elliott Stooke fail head injury assessments during the first half, which meant Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau featuring off the bench and playing in the second-row for more than an hour.
Hooper added: “We had everything thrown at us in that game with changes and decisions, but we still should have been a lot better than we were.
“The adversity is one thing. The way we responded is another.
“Whoever we have on the field, we expect more than that. We didn’t rely on each other to do the right thing at the right time.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now