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Two improving teams will clash at the Recreation Ground on Saturday as Bath take on Italian side Benetton Rugby, live on Sky Sports. Winners in 1998, Bath haven’t reached a Champions Cup semi-final since 2006 and will need to get past a tough Benetton side who have had a good start to their Pro14 campaign, beating Ospreys and Edinburgh.
· This will be the fourth meeting between the sides with Bath winning two of the previous three games (L1). This will be their first encounter since the 2004/05 season.
· Bath’s defeat to Benetton in 2004/05 was their only loss to Italian opposition in Europe (including Challenge Cup) They’ve won 16 of 17 such games overall, including six of seven in the Champions Cup.
· Benetton won their first away game against Premiership opposition in the European Cup, in November 1999 (v Harlequins), however, they’ve lost on all 14 trips to England since.
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Bath absorbed plenty of Benetton pressure before picking them off ruthlessly with two tries in an attritional Pool 5 opener at The Rec.
- Zach Mercer finished off some excellent interplay between Semesa Rokoduguni and Chris Cook on the stroke of half time to score the first try of the game.
- Josh Lewis, the hosts' summer signing from Ebbw Vale, kept admirable composure on his Bath European debut, kicking three from three penalties and both conversions.
- The game was slow-paced, with Benetton exerting sustained pressure on the Bath defence in both halves, and enjoying two-thirds of possession, but ultimately lacking the required cutting edge.
- Aled Brew superbly sliced through the defence off the back of a lineout to end any Italian hopes in the second half.
- Benetton had three tries disallowed, survived a good shout for a penalty try against them and Bath had Nick Auterac and Tom Dunn sin-binned, but somehow held out for a clean sheet.
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