Bath dominated Montpellier to win 30-5 at Altrad Stadium on Friday but fell short of the four-try bonus point they needed to truly revive their European fortunes.
Having scored three tries inside 50 minutes, the visitors looked on course for a perfect night on the French south coast but lost their way in the final quarter.
Describing the pitch as a cabbage patch would have been complimentary and the cut-up surface and heavy rain made free-flowing rugby nigh-impossible.
The Bath pack reveled in the conditions against a home side that seemed keen to get back to the warmth of the changing room in the first hour. Their motivation for gutsing it out wasn’t helped by referee Ian Davies, whose penalty count against the hosts rose at a regular rate throughout the evening.
Bath led 23-0 at the break thanks to a try from prop Henry Thomas, a penalty try and 13 points, including a drop-goal from George Ford.
The young England fly-half was playing with supreme confidence and ensured his pack enjoyed field position to exert their influence.
Number eight Leroy Houston added a third try for the English club before his opposite number, Alex Tulou, finally got his team on the scoreboard.
Bath dominated the opening exchanges and were first to get on the scoreboard when Ford slotted a neat drop-goal.
Ford doubled the lead with a penalty from a ruck infringement to cap a first half highlighted by Bath’s domination at scrum time. Former Stormers tighthead Pat Cilliers was getting munched in what was a miserable debut.
Montpellier flank Antoine Battut stupidly hit Chris Cook with an arm off the ball, earning a yellow card and allowing a third three-pointer from Ford.
It had been a fairly even battle for the first half-hour, with the Bath scrum the main difference between the team, but the final six minutes before the interval would prove fatal for the hosts.
It was Thomas who powered over with an impressive drive to score the first try. Ford added the conversion, and at 16-0, the writing was on the wall for Montpellier.
A rush of blood to the head from Thibault Privat saw the Montpellier lock sent to the bin for blatantly taking Thomas out at a line-out when he was lifting Stuart Hooper. Already under the cosh, losing a man saw the Montpellier scrum crumble and penalty try was the only logical conclusion.
Ford’s extras gave the visiting side a 23-point lead and a bonus point would be their goal as the teams swapped sides.
Montpellier changed their entire front row for the second half, but they couldn’t stop the rot.
The third Bath try was soon in coming and it was a real gem as Ford, Thomas and Kyle Eastmond combined with some wonderful offloading in the soggy conditions to put Houston over.
The bonus points seemed inevitable, especially when Charles G