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Bath The First To Qualify

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:28

- 20/12/2005 15:28

Bourgoin have been inconsistent in this year’s competition. With two wins and two defeats, they are in third place in the Pool with just eight points.

And they face a Bath side who have, so far, been unstoppable in the 11th season of the Heineken Cup. The 1998 Heineken Cup winners have a 100 per cent record, and have scored 13 tries along the way as they have set a scorching pace at the top of Pool 4.

But Bourgoin’s Stade Pierre Rajon is a stronghold, and the English side will be hard pushed to repeat their 27-point margin of victory in Round 2.

On that day in October over 10,000 fans watched Bath brush Bourgoin aside in the latter stages of the match, with three tries in the final 10 minutes after a tight first half.

This could be a very close match, and a match Leinster fans will be watching closely ahead of their showdown with Bath in Round 6.

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Bath The First To Qualify

Tuesday 20th December 2005

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 20/12/2005 15:28

- 20/12/2005 15:28

Bath Rugby maintained their 100 per cent record in Pool 5 with a victory over Bourgoin that sees them qualify for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup…

Nick Walshe muscled his way over for a crucial try as Bath won in France and ensured a place in the final eight.

Brian Ashton’s struggling Guinness Premiership side trailed Bourgoin 6-3 at halftime, but tries to Walshe and backrower Michael Lipman took the English side into a lead they never relinquished. Bath’s 13-point victory is the first time a visiting side have won at Stade Pierre Rajon this season.

The win guarantees Bath a spot in the Cup quarter-finals. Whatever happens in the Leinster-Glasgow match in Dublin today (SAT), Bath are through, but a win over the Brian O’Driscoll-led Leinster side at the Recreation Ground next Sunday will ensure a home playoff match.

Bourgoin went into the match as huge outsiders to make the Cup quarter-finals, and they were facing a Bath side with 10 changes to the side who lost to Leeds Tykes in the Guiness Premiership last weekend.

Goal-kickers Alexandre Peclier and Olly Barkley swapped early penalty goals in the first quarter as both sides sorted themselves out, and Peclier’s second penalty goal in the 40th minute gave the home side a hard-fought 6-3 lead at the break.

New Bath coach Ashton threw on England prop Matt Stevens at the start of the second half, with fellow Test front-rower David Flatman lasting only 40 minutes of his comeback from achilles problems, but Peclier nudged his side further ahead with his third penalty goal.

A piece of magic from scrum-half Walshe, who powered his way over the try-line on the hour mark, took Bath to within a point of the French club and Barkley did the rest to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.

Backrower Lipman crashed over for his side’s second try, and Barkley’s superb sideline conversion gave Bath a playoff-sealing eight-point lead.

The Welsh duo of Gareth Delve and Tom Cheeseman secured Bath’s third try. Replacement backrower Delve – who looks odds-on for a spot in the Wales squad next week – did all the hard work and offloaded to exciting young centre Cheeseman for the score.

Bourgoin refused to give up, and their resistance prevented Bath securing a try bonus point to cap off a superb night for the throng of visiting fans.

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