Ford on form as Bath beat Welsh
London Welsh shipped a half-century of points for the second time in seven days as Bath ran in seven tries as they claimed a 53-26 victory in front of a record crowd at the Recreation Ground.
The visitors scored four tries themselves and showed far more heart in defence than in their traumatic 52-nil defeat at home to Exeter. But their return to the Premiership could hardly have begun more unpromisingly.
Bath's playmaker, George Ford, was near faultless from the kicking tee, missing only one conversion and also landing two penalties for an 18-point haul.
His half-back partner, Chris Cook, given his first Premiership start, scored within two minutes and other tries followed from Semesa Rokoduguni (two), Jonathan Joseph (two), Leroy Houston and Carl Fearns.
The Exiles tries were scored by Pete Browne, Seb Stegmann, Seb Jewell and Lachlan McCaffrey, with skipper Olly Barkley, who spent eight seasons in all at Recreation Ground, converting three.
Cook's try, after just 84 seconds, owed much to Fearns' muscular burst through two tackles and Kyle Eastmond's inside track in support. He was brought down just short of the posts by former Bath player Nick Scott but scrum-half Cook followed up to touch down and Ford added the conversion.
London Welsh were back on terms within a couple of minutes as lock Browne finished off a move involving Barkley, Jewell and flanker McCaffrey - Barkley landed the extra points.
Ford, who had kicked seven out of seven on the opening weekend at Sale, was accurate with an eighth-minute penalty, awarded for a scrum offence by Exiles' tighthead Taione Vea.
Given another straightforward chance, the young fly-half opted instead for a tap-and-go but Davey Wilson was stopped just of the line. Despite a decided advantage in the scrums, Bath's attacking rhythm was being disrupted by knock-ons and spilled passes.
Eventually, Ford rescued a faltering move on the Welsh 22, easing outside Browne's flailing tackle to create the overlap for Rokoduguni to score in the right corner.
There was a worrying moment or two for the Bath faithful as the fly-half received treatment on his shoulder but he banged over the conversion from the touchline to put Bath 17-7 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Barkley missed a 45-metre penalty at the other end before Bath extended their lead with a third try on the half hour.
The Welsh defence was a far more aggressive and capable unit this weekend but was undone, first by Anthony Watson's dancing feet, and then by Joseph's neat grubber, the centre snaffling the ball under Stegmann's nose to touch down.
Stegman quickly got his own back, wriggling out of Luke Arscott's tackle to win the TMO decision and Barkley's kick cut the margin to one score. But Ford ended the half with another penalty for a 27-14 lead.
Within five minutes of the restart, number eight Houston profited from a catch-and-drive, with Ford accurate as ever from the tee. It looked as if they would score again straightaway but Stegmann led a rousing counter-attack and full-back Jewell cantered to the line at the other end.
Bath responded with an intercept score by Rokoduguni as McCaffrey tried to offload in a tackle just outside his 22.
But Bath were equally generous at the other end as replacement hooker Tom Dunn threw long on his own line and it was a relieved McCaffrey who snapped up the chance to earn a four-try bonus point.
Rokoduguni's pace and power had been a constant threat and after he had busted through the tiring Welsh defence on 71 minutes, Ford fed Joseph for his second try and Bath's sixth. For once, the fly-half's kick was off target - but only just.
Fearns brought up the 50 by barging through to the posts from a tapped penalty.