Ben Spencer marked his debut with an early try as Bath secured a 34-17 victory over London Irish at the Recreation Ground. The England scrum-half, signed from Saracens in June, crossed the line after just five minutes, with Bath adding four more tries for a bonus-point win which reinforced their place in the Gallagher Premiership’s top six.

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The Exiles struggled from the start with the home club’s mauling game, which yielded three tries by the end of the first quarter. Spencer’s impact was immediate as he snapped up a wayward offload from Curtis Rona to sprint 80 metres and get his three-year contract off to a flying start.

And there were plenty more warning signs before hooker Tom Dunn made the first of two touchdowns inside five minutes. Skipper Charlie Ewels, making his 100th appearance, featured prominently as Bath first marched their opponents 30 metres upfield from a lineout. A penalty to touch by Rhys Priestland set them up once more and Dunn finished off.

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Dunn’s second try was almost a carbon copy but in the other corner. Priestland was unable to convert but Bath still led 17-0. The Exiles eventually made their presence felt just before the break, forcing Bath to concede ground and penalties until Rona was able to cross the line virtually unopposed. Paddy Jackson added the extras to cut Bath’s lead to 17-7 at half-time.

Beno Obano came off the bench at the interval to add power to Bath’s front row but the visitors were quickening the tempo at the breakdown and Jackson added a penalty after 53 minutes. Bath responded with a Priestland penalty and the fly-half also converted Bath’s bonus-point try shortly after, a spectacular finish by Jonathan Joseph at the corner flag after Ewels’ flick-on.

Jack Walker then made it a hat-trick for the Bath hookers, again from the catch-and-drive, before Matt Cornish replied with a second try for the visitors. However, the damage had already been done for London Irish as Bath ran out convincing winners.

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