London Irish opened their Heineken Cup account with a convincing 42-9 win over Treviso at the Madejski on Saturday, running in seven unanswered tries.
he Exiles were good value for the win, with a tired Italian team wilting in the final quarter and leaking four of their tries in the final quarter of the match when the Exiles cut loose.
Veteran centre Mike Catt, playing his first match since his contentious comments about England coach Brian Ashton caused a stir, lasted an hour of the match, and while he did not touch down himself, by the time he left the field his team-mates had secured what could prove to be an important bonus point in Group One by scoring their fourth try.
Catt, whose last match for his country came when he set the record for the oldest player in a World Cup final at 36, provided his trademark steadying influence and organisational skills.
But victory over the reigning Italian Super 10 champions was built on the superior forward power which produced two first-half tries as the Irish pack drove over Argentina number eight Juan Leguizamon in the 24th minute and Dan Murphy in the sixth minute of first-half injury-time.
Irish lead 13-6 at half time, with two Marius Goosen penalties keeping Treviso in the hunt, but in reality they should have put the game beyond the reach of the Italian much earlier
With only one man to beat, right winger Topsy Ojo spoilt a good run by letting the ball slip from his grab before fellow winger Tomas De Vedia failed to find the space to make the final pass tell with the visiting defence in disarray.
After Irish opted to go for a try instead of kicking a simple penalty, Treviso repelled five surges towards the line before Leguizamon squandered the advantage with an ill-chosen and badly-executed drop goal attempt.
But the Irish backs cut loose in the second half as the home side took their try tally to seven.
Australian full-back Peter Hewat, who also kicked a penalty and two conversions, scored the third try in the 56th minute, finishing off a move started by Peter Richards, another England World Cup player.
The bonus point came when centre Delon Armitage burst through for try number four and the Treviso defence was breached again in the 65th minute by De Vedia before Armitage's brother Steffon, a second-half replacement, hit the Italians with the sixth Irish try after 72 minutes.
Richards crowned his man-of-the-match performance with a sublime try - his team's seventh - totally bamboozling his spirited Treviso rearguard as he sold a superb dummy before crossing the line.
Treviso could only muster three penalties from skipper Marius Goosen in reply.
For London Irish:
Tries: Leguizamon, Murphy, Hewat, D. Armitage, De Vedia, S. Armitage, Richards
Cons: Hewat 2
Pens: Goosen 3
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Tomas De Vedia, 10 Mike Catt, 9 Peter Richards, 8 Juan Leguizamon, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Kieran Roche, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 2 David Paice, 1 Dan Murphy,
Replacements: 16 Richard Skuse, 17 Danie Coetzee, 18 James Hudson, 19 Richard Thorpe, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Sailosi Tagicakibau
Treviso: 15 Brendon Williams, 14 Lucas Borges, 13 Michael Horak, 12 Marius Goosen (c), 11 Benjamin De Jager, 10 Andrea Marcato, 9 Simon Picone, 8 Dion Kingi, 7 Hottie Louw, 6 Robert Barbieri, 5 Cornelius Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Salvatore Costanzo, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Nicolas De Gregori.
Replacements: 16 Pedro di Santo, 17 Diego Vidal, 18 Enrico Pavanello, 19 Silvio Orlando, 20 Scott Palmer, 21 Alberto Sgarbi, 22 Fabio Semenzato.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Assessor: Patrick Thomas (France)