v Plymouth Albion, Home, Won 41-3. C R Martin, M Sparkes, S Halliday, J Palmer, P Blackett, J Horton (Capt), R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, R F Hakin, N Gaymond, J Hall, P Simpson, S Jones. Replacements – A Thomas and J Morrison.
Bath slowly warmed to their task after leading by a somewhat modest 6-3 at the interval. Palmer and Sparkes scored first half tries, and Palmer finished the game with a penalty and three conversions. Bath’s back row of Hall, Simpson and Jones inspired Bath to great heights and tries flowed from Cunningham, Horton, Jones, Palmer, Hall and Simpson.
Palmer and Halliday teamed up well and Hill initiated repeated breaks from the base of the scrum.
v Leicester, Away, Lost 15-18. C R Martin, D Trick, S Halliday, J Palmer, M Sparkes, J Horton (Capt), R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, R F Hakin, N Gaymond, J Hall, P Simpson, S Jones. Replacements – D Richards and N Williams
There was a heavy 4-1 penalty count in favour of the Tigers, most of the sanctions falling in the second half. Bath had been 15-3 up at half time, and were unhappy spectators, as Les Cusworth piled on the penalty points. Much of Bath’s discomfort stemmed from the front row, where both Lee and Chilcott had untypical, torrid afternoons at the hands of the Tigers. Hall, Simpson and Jones were able to stifle Richards, Youngs and Cusworth, and Martin played excellently in the last line of defence. However, the penalties took their toll, and Bath’s undefeated run of 24 matches was ended by this unhappy loss to their old rivals.
Palmer kicked three penalties and Horton two drop goals.
v Moseley, Home, Won 44-9. C R Martin, D Trick, D Padfield, J Palmer, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, K Adams, R Lee, R F Hakin, N Gaymond, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Watkins and S Jones – Simon Jones replaced Spurrell
Referee Terry Friend seemed to be under the spell of his assessors and blew for an inordinate number of penalties. Notwithstanding the stop-start element, Bath eventually ran the heavy Moseley side off their feet, scoring two tries in the first half and six in the second. John Palmer converted three of them and kicked two penalties.
Try tally:- Martin, Trevaskis (2), Hill, Gaymond (2), Hall and Simpson.
“John Horton, in superb form, hardly had a hand laid on him, John Palmer showed why he still interests the England selectors and Barry Trevaskis celebrated his return on the left wing in devastating style.” Richard Hill was equally impressive as he probed for openings for his tearaway back row. England selector Derek Morgan could not fail to be impressed by the form of Martin, Hall and Simpson.
v Llanelli, Away, Lost 13-19. C R Martin, D Trick, S Halliday, J Palmer, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, K Adams, R Lee, R F Hakin, N Gaymond, R Spurrell, J Hall, P.Simpson. The Rag Doll stayed in Llanelli, but it was a splendid and absorbing game. After a storming opening, Bath were rocked back on their heels when Pearce kicked a penalty from 40 yards. Bath had the lion’s share of the play, but slipped further behind when Pearce landed a second penalty. Next, he engineered a sizzling outside break, resulting in Hopkins touching down beneath the posts. Pearce added the extras. Palmer narrowed the gap with a penalty, then disaster struck as Martin miss-fielded and Martin Gravelle was put clear to the corner. The second half was equally dramatic. Palmer kicked a penalty and Bath’s fortunes revived. Gravelle was penalised and Palmer had his third success. Next, Halliday took a reverse pass from Palmer to send Martin over in the corner. Bath were just three points behind, but the game was tied up in the dying seconds. Hill was penalised and Pearce put Llanelli out of sight.
v Aberavon, Away, Lost 16-25. Team:- C S Ralston, D Trick, S Halliday, J Palmer, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt.), R Hill, G Chilcott, K Adams, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redmond, J Hall, P Simpson, S Jones Replacements – C Martin and R Spurrell – replaced Ralston and Spurrell replaced Jones.
It was Nigel Redman’s first game. Nigel’s arrival at the Club added to a growing list of truly outstanding players. However, it was a generally below par performance from the Bath forwards. Aberavon’s Allan Martin dominated the line-outs and tearaway flanker Mac Knowles disrupted the Bath back division.
For Bath, David Trick showed his exceptional pace in scoring two tries. John Palmer converted one and contributed two penalties. Flanker John Hall was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury and full-back Chris Martin deputised in the back row.
v Cheltenham, Home, Won 24-6. C S Ralston, D Trick, D Padfield, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, C Lilley, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Redmond, N Gaymond, N Maslen, R Spurrell, R Hakin. It was Nick Maslen’s 1st XV debut. Replacements – P Simmons and G Bess
The Bath tries by Spurrell, Cunningham, Gaymond and Trick, were all converted by Ralston.
In an error-ridden match in which Bath’s depleted side won at walking pace, Bath’s scoring spree was confined to a 20 minutes ‘purple patch.’ The effort then subsided as Cheltenham’s bustling forwards forced them into a long succession of errors. Apart from the scoring highlights, it was a thoroughly disjointed and ill-disciplined performance.
v Liverpool, Home, Won 13-9. J Orzabel, P Simmons, A Rees, D Padfield, M Sparkes, A Watkins , C Stanley, C Lilley (Capt.), R Cunningham, P Norris, N Redman, A Marriott, N Maslen, P Turner, P Simpson. Replacements – D Richards and A Burr.
Bath were depleted by County calls and a ‘shadow’ XV matched Merseyside opposition with three penalties each, but a narrow victory was secured in the 56th minute, when a blind-side grubber kick by Stanley allowed winger Martin Sparkes to touch down with some aplomb. Alun Watkins kicked Bath’s penalties. Liverpool certainly played the more positive rugby, but their finishing was noticeably poor. Bath were able to hold out to maintain an unbeaten record against English sides, which they had held since February 1982.
v Bristol, Home, Won 12-10. Team:- C R Martin, D Trick, A Rees, C Ralston, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, R F Hakin, N Gaymond, R Spurrell, S Jones, P Simpson. Referee – R Quittenton (LONDON) Replacements – A Watkins
A local derby win on a rain-sodden pitch. Simon Halliday was at Twickenham winning his first England Cap against Canada, with John Hall on the bench. Bath must have rued their pre-match appeal for the match not to count in the South West Merit table. They had little confidence in winning, with key players on representative duty. Charles Ralston landed 3 penalties and Horton dropped a goal. Bath won a very muddy contest.
v United Services (Portsmouth), Home, Won 20-15. H Davis, P Simmons, A Rees, D Padfield, M Sparkes, A Watkins, C Stanley, C Lilley (Capt.), K Adams, P Norris, N Gaymond, N Redman, N Maslen, A Burr, A Marriott. Replacements – K Prosser and R Lye
Referee – Tony Spreadbury (SOMERSET SOCIETY)
A virtual United side put in a battling performance to overcome a dour Services outfit. Following an exchange of penalties (Alun Watkins x 2), the game was finely balanced at 9-3 in Bath’s favour at half time. From the re-start, Bath commenced a three-try blitz. Chris Stanley made a blind-side run and sent Martin Sparkes over. A superb break by Dean Padfield, allowed Alun Rees to feed on to Paul Simmons for another try-scorcher. Finally, the ever faithful Nick Maslen juggled the ball into control, for a third touchdown, which Watkins converted. Services stuck to their task and, as Bath relaxed, they came back with tries by Nash and Hughes, which were both converted. Bath tightened up their defence and held on to their home record.
v Clifton, Away, Won 29-9. C Ralston, D Trick, D Padfield, A Rees, P Simmons, A Watkins, C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redman, N Maslen, PTurner, R Lye It was David Trick’s 23rd birthday, and he was more than pleased to be presented with more scoring opportunities than he had enjoyed for the rest of the season to date.
He celebrated with two scintillating tries: “That electric pace of his completely flummoxed Clifton, but after touching down twice in the first 24 minutes, any hopes that Trick would really make it a night to remember quickly fizzled out.” Bath got off to a blistering start and then coasted through the rest of the match at half-pace. Clifton had all the enthusiasm, but were short on skill. Nigel Redman dominated the line-out, while Nick Maslen and Robbie Lye excelled in the loose. Chris Stanley was given free reign at scrum-half, and a cricket score might well have followed. “Trick, put clear by a long pass from fly-half Alun Watkins, raced 40 yards to score within two minutes. Watkins himself quickly added a penalty and Dean Padfield, in the centre, then touched down his first try for the team.” Watkins converted. More fluent handling brought tries for Trick and Simmons. Then the effort subsided. John Hickey landed a penalty right on the interval, and Clifton’s effort bore fruit after the interval Hickey scored a second penalty after Denis Buckley had dropped a goal.
Bath were never in any real danger, and emphasised their superiority, with a late and well-worked try by Paul Simmons. Alun Watkins converted three and added a penalty gaol.
v Neath, Home, Won 67-0. C Martin (T), D Trick (Tx2), S Halliday (T), J Palmer (Tx2 and 10c), P Simmons (Tx2), J Horton (1dg), R Hill (T), G Chilcott, K Adams, R Lee, N Gaymond, R Hakin (T), R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson (T). Ref – J C Doulcet (FRANCE) Replacements – H Davis and P Turner – Turner replaced Adams
Skipper Spurrell paid for drinks all round after this record breaker! Neath were the current Welsh Merit Table leaders and had recently enjoyed a creditable 21-21 draw against a Japanese National side.
The Welsh ‘All Blacks’ left the field in a state of shock and a goodly number of spectators were similarly afflicted. Orchestrated by John Horton, the Bath backs put on a dazzling display of fluid rugby. Centres Halliday and Palmer were in devastating form. John Palmer converted 10 of the eleven tries scored – and he scored two of them!
It was far and away Bath’s finest performance of the season.
Bath were awarded the ‘Team of the Week’ prize – a Methuselah of Moet & Chandon champagne..
v Newbridge, Away, Won 22-12. C Martin, D Trick, S Halliday, C Ralston, P Simmons, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, K Adams, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, P Turner, J Hall. Replacements – Maslen replaced Adams
This was Bath’s first away win to this valley club side in 30 years and demonstrated that the previous week’s thrashing of Neath, was no freak result. The Newbridge front five were contained in the set scrums and Ronnie Hakin put in an outstanding performance in the line-out. The back row combination of Spurrell, Turner and Hall were in fine form. John Horton dropped a goal in the first 10 minutes and scored a try, which Ralston converted. Ralston added a penalty and Simon Halliday was instrumental in sending Paul Simmons on a scorching 30-yard dash for the line. Ralston rounded off a superb team performance with two further penalties. Paul Turner was again outstanding for Newbridge.
v Wakefield, Home, Lost 16-19. H Davies, P Simmons, A Rees, D Padfield, P Blackett, A Watkins, C Stanley, C Lilley (Capt), J Dean, I Davies, N Gaymond, N Redmond, P Turner, N Maslen, A Brooks. Replacements – M Wilson and M Bugden – Bugden replaced Dean.
Both sides were severely effected by County calls, but the game turned out to be something of a ‘nail-biter.’ Whereas Wakefield dominated in the tight, Gaymond and Redman ruled the roost in the line-out. Wakefield opened with a converted try, but Watkins levelled with two penalties. Another penalty put Wakefield ahead at the re-start. Soon prop Ian Davies was forced to quit the field, but the re-shuffled pack worked manfully. Jimmy Dean, Chris Stanley, Alun Rees and Paul Simmons all took part in sweeping attacks and, eventually, Peter Blackett pounced on a wayward pass for a corner try.
Watkins slotted a total of four penalties and with Wakefield’s converted try, the game hung on a knife-edge. Unfortunately, Wakefield’s Brian Barley struck the final blow, sending flanker Paul Fennett over, for Holt to convert. Bath surrendered their treasured home record against English clubs.
v Coventry, Away, Lost 10-19. C Martin, D Trick, J A Palmer, C Ralston, B Trevaskis, A Watkins, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, P Turner, S Jones
Bath were overtaken in the last quarter, when Coventry’s fly-half Lakey landed two penalties and ran in an opportunist try from 65 yards. Earlier, they had allowed Lakey to chase through his own kick, to hack on and score. Lakey’s drop-goal put Coventry on top despite the disruption of losing hooker Steve Brain before half-time. A fussy referee contributed to the stop-start nature of the match and Bath were but a shadow of their normal fluent selves. Coventry’s pack gradually took command and Bath had to live off scraps of possession. Ralston kicked one penalty from three attempts and Watkins had also kicked a third-minute penalty. David Trick scored a simple try from the right wing, which served to demonstrate how easily the home defence could be penetrated by inter-passing.
v Camborne, Home, Won 17-3. H Davies, G John, D Padfield, A Thomas, P Blackett, S Lewis, C Lilley (Capt), G Bess, R Walker, N Gaymond, N Redmond, P Turner, N Maslen, S Jones.
A satisfactory win, gaining two points in the South West Merit Table. The largely United selection was well led by prop Chris Lilley. Replacements – D Richards and M Bugden
Experience and enthusiasm, in the shape of Simon Jones and Steve Lewis, combined to engineer a useful South West Merit Table win. Jones was Bath’s major driving force and the Cornishmen were gradually overrun by Bath’s rampaging forwards. Bath were 6-3 up at the interval with two Alun Watkins penalties to one by full-back Nigel Allen. In the forwards, Maslen, Gaymond and Redman caught the eye, while Watkins and Lewis employed their subtle kicking skills to good effect.
Gary John marked his debut with a fine breakaway try and Lewis marked his seasonal debut with a determined burst, which took him past the despairing cover for a fine individual score. Alun Watkins added a second half penalty.
v London Scottish, Home, Won 17-6. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, C Ralston, P Simmons, J Horton (Capt.), R Hill, C Lilley, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, J Hall, S Jones. P Simpson. Replacements – A Watkins and A Marriott
This was described as an eminently forgettable match. The Scots lacked six of their first choice players and came intent to play a spoiling game. It was a ‘mess of a match.’
The two highlights of the match followed a break by Palmer, who found David Trick at his side. The winger’s obvious hunger for the ball was rightly rewarded with a fine try. Richard Hill scored, after picking up from a ruck and racing 30 yards through all opposition, for a fine individual effort.
John Palmer landed 3 penalties in a match which contained a total of 40 penalty awards.
v Gloucester, Away, Lost 8-16. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, P Turner, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – C Ralston and M Maslen – Ralston replaced Martin.
GLOUCESTER PACK SUPREMACY
Giant lock, John Fidler led Gloucester’s forward effort. He dominated in the line-out and the Bath eight were unusually subdued. It was difficult to understand Bath’s loss of form. Man for man their backs were superior to the Gloucester selection. Both sides scored two tries. Palmer was unable to convert. Gloucester’s Smith converted one and added two penalties. Hall scored for Bath in the tenth minute after a breakaway by Paul Turner. They fought doggedly to the end and eventually narrowed the gap when Trevaskis scored after a barging run by new England cap, Paul Simpson.
It was a disappointing effort at Kingsholm, and Jack Rowell was not best pleased!
Team Training was reported to be particularly hard during the week to follow.
v Harlequins, Home, Lost 13-15. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, J Hall, P Turner, P Simpson. Ref- L Prideaux (N. MIDS). Replacements – A Thomas and N Redman.
Loss of form continued. Bath were missing Simon Halliday, who had sustained a severe ankle fracture in a November County game.
Some thought Bath gifted this game to the Quins. Bath forwards did well in all phases, but the backs failed abjectly with their ample possession; they looked completely out of sorts. “John Horton, right out of form and clearly upset by recent events, was but a pale shadow of his normal self; Alun Rees and John Palmer in the centre were preoccupied with missed-ball and slow motion loop moves; and full-back Chris Martin just couldn’t do anything right in attack.” (Bath Chronicle)
The back row of Simpson, Hall and Turner, gradually became disheartened at seeing good ball wasted. Towards the close Gareth Chilcott and Frank Munday were involved in an ugly brawl and were lucky to stay on the field.
Bath had enjoyed an interval lead, after locks Gaymond and Hakin had scored in rapid succession. Palmer converted one and added a second half penalty.
“Bath deteriorated into a shambles, in which scrum half Richard Hill tried far too much down the blind-side on his own account and the men outside him made one mistake after another.”
v Pontypool, Home, Lost 6-23. C Ralston, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, J Hall, P Turner, P Simpson. Replacements – C Martin and A Marriott – Marriott replaced Chilcott
Supporters expecting a Christmas treat were sadly disappointed. They were left to admire the power and discipline of the famous Pontypool pack, which ensured ‘Poola’ a comfortable victory. Midway through the first half, Ralston scored a fine try, which was converted by John Palmer. Apart from this, the home side never looked good enough technically to challenge Pontypool’s authority; the class of David Bishop, Graham Price, Eddie Butler and Jeff Squires were plain to see.
v Clifton, Home, Won 26-10. A Watkins, P Simmons, A Thomas, A Rees, P Blackett, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, C Folland, A Marriott, N Redmond, P Turner, R Lye (Capt), N Maslen. Replacements – Simpson and A Barr The Clifton side included full-back Fred Sagoe, destined to join Bath as a winger. It was Robbie Lye’s 450th appearance for the premier XV.
Bath scored five cracking tries to chalk up the double against their near neighbours. Tries scored by Pete Blackett (3), John Horton and Phil Turner, with Watkins converting three.
v Northampton, Home, Won 16-6. Team:- C Ralston, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, C Folland, G Bess, R Lee, N Redman, R F Hakin, J Hall, A Brooks. Replacements – D Padfield and A Marriott – Marriott replaced Chilcott
Bath fielded five forward reserves, but ended the year on a high note, despite a shock second-minute try by back row forward White. Jacko Page, then aged 36, had been recalled from the Saint’s reserves, but even in his presence Northampton failed to match Bath’s makeshift selection. Hall, Maslen and Brooks dominated in the loose, while Horton masterminded events in the back division, scoring two tries on his own account. Ralston converted one and also landed two penalties.
v Leicester, Home, Won 14-0. C Martin, D Trick, A Rees, C Ralston, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt), C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, P Turner, A Brooks, N Maslen Replacements – P Simmons and J Morrison
Simon Halliday and Leicester’s Paul Dodge were both out with leg injuries. International Trial calls robbed the game of 18 first choice players. In slippery conditions, it was 40 minutes before Horton opened the scoring with a drop goal. After the interval, the Bath backs began to show their paces, with Martin brought down just short of the Leicester line. Continued pressure led to Ralston increasing the lead with a penalty. Later, the speedy Trick got away but was checked. Hooker Greg Bess picked up the resulting loose ball and scored a try. Simmons came on for Martin, sliced through a despairing Leicester defence and finally sent in Ralston for Bath’s second touch-down.
v London Welsh, Away, Won 40-9. C Ralston, D Trick, A Rees, A Thomas, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, J Hall, P Turner, P Simpson. Replacements – M Patching replaced Cunningham
Bath showed fine form in beating the Exiles on their own patch for the first time in 24 years. They crossed their opponents’ line to the tune of eight tries to nil. They scored three first-half tries playing against the elements, with London Welsh holding them in check with three penalties. In the second half, Bath swept their hosts aside with five more tries, with a magnificent team performance. Hakin dominated in the line-out and Hall, Turner and Simpson cleaned up in the loose. Half-backs Hill and Horton masterminded operations.
Tries by Hall (2), Chilcott, Cunningham, Trevaskis (2), Hill and Gaymond., with Ralston converting two.
v Royal Navy, Home, Won 42-8. C Martin, D Trick, A Rees, M C Beese, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, D Sole, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redman, J Hall, R Spurrell, A Brooks. Referee – Tony Spreadbury (SOMERSET) Replacements – A Thomas and N Maslen – Maslen replaced Spurrell. It was David Sole’s debut game.
The Navy were ‘all at sea’ for this one; they did manage tries by Penfold and Voisey. Otherwise, it was one way traffic, with tries by Hill, Hall, Trevaskis, Gaymond, Martin and Rees. Martin converted three and Trick one. Martin kicked a penalty. Horton dropped a goal.
v Headingley, Home, Won 17-0. John Player Cup Third Round.
Team:- C Martin, D Trick, A Rees, C Ralston, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, P Turner, P Simpson. Replacements – M C Beese and Patching
The score hardly reflected the intensity of this contest.
Richard Hill had been reluctant to play in view of England consideration. In the event the 22-year-old turned on a brilliant performance in front of selector Derek Morgan. All square at half-time, it was Hill who started the build-up for the first try by Trevaskis, after handling by Hakin and Rees. Chris Martin and John Horton scored the other tries. Ralston converted one and kicked a penalty.
“Finally, a 30-yard break by Richard Hill capped a fine performance. Hill fed to Horton who was left with three defenders to circumnavigate. What he now lacked in speed he made up with guile. He dummied, added a couple of enormous side-ste and left the opposition clutching at thin air!
Hill had provided the Fresh Fizz and Horton had followed with Grand Cru.”
Coach Jack Rowell commented that it was Bath’s best ever Cup performance. (Perhaps we should add the words – to date!)
The Club moved on to the Fourth Round versus Blackheath at Rectory Field -things were beginning to happen at Bath!
v Rosslyn Park, Away, Won 13-9. C Martin, D Trick, A Rees, P J Crowe, B Trevaskis, J Horton, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, P Turner, A Brooks. Replacements – P Simmons and N Redman.
It was a debut appearance for Australian centre Phil Crowe. He only played one game for Bath!
This was something of an anti-climax after the excitement of the Cup match with Headingley. John Horton managed to torment the opposition with some huge ‘up and unders.’ Internationals Andy Ripley and Marcus Rose failed to inspire, and a series of penalty opportunities led to Martin’s three kicking successes. “Scrum-half Chris Stanley, deputising admirably for the absent Richard Hill, bulleted out a pass so long it reached wing David Trick in one bounce.
The Bath flyer then shot 25 yards to the line, his try securing victory despite a further late penalty from Marcus Rose.” In all, Rose kicked three penalties.
v Gloucester, Home, Won 13-6. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Watkins and P Turner
David Trick scored the first try after smart work by Simpson and Hall. Gaymond added a second, with one of his characteristic tap penalty moves. Palmer converted one and scored a penalty.
BATTLE OF THE BACK ROWS
It was a contest for the connoisseur of back-row play. The abrasive John Gadd was intent upon un-shipping Simpson from his England spot; Spurrell was one of the best uncapped contestants in the business. John Hall had just been capped as a replacement in the Scotland game and was at the peak of his form. Mike Teague, also one of the best, was given little chance to shine in this particular game. (his turn would come!) On the day, it was Roger Spurrell that put in the most dynamic performance. His athleticism and determination established him as both ball winner and arch-destroyer in the loose.
He was the key force in Gloucester’s demise, and it will be recalled that he was absent when Bath lost out at Gloucester in December.
v Royal Air Force, Home, Won 35-4. C Martin, P Simmons, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, A Watkins, C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, C Folland, N Gaymond, N Redman, P Turner, N Maslen, A Brooks. John Palmer was skipper for this annual encounter. Replacements – D Padfield and A Burr – Padfield replaced Palmer
The airman were outclassed as the Bath back division ran in tries by Martin, Simmons, Palmer, Rees, Trevaskis, and Watkins. Watkins converted four. Palmer kicked a penalty.
v Bridgend, Home, Won 25-19. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redman, R Spurrell, P Turner, A Brooks. Both sides were committed to play open rugby.
Replacements – A Watkins and A Marriott – Watkins replaced Martin
Bath recorded their 10th win in a row, after a second-half revival. John Palmer’s outwardly calm approach to set piece kicking was crucial to success, whilst his opposite number succumbed to the intense pressure – and missed his chances. Bridgend had looked the speedier side and tore into Bath with outstanding tries from Glen Webbe, Tony Lewis and Richard Griffiths. (16-16 at half-time) Chris Martin and David Trick had fought back with tries. Martin kicked a penalty. John Palmer secured an exciting win with four penalties and a conversion.
v Blackheath, Away, Won 41-12. John Player Cup. Team:- C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Watkins and P Turner – Turner replaced Cunningham.
Bath, at their awesome best, swept aside their Blackheath opposition with four goals, two tries and three penalties to a goal and two penalties. The second half brought a relentless display of forward power, coupled with speed of thought and deed in the backs, with the added bonus of John Palmer’s kicking prowess. His personal tally was 17 points. Any foragers for Blackheath were presented with the task of getting past: “a back row of whom Hall, in particular, could deter most men with a sidelong glance.”
Tries by Trick (2), Hill, Cunningham, Gaymond and Simpson, with Palmer converting four and kicking three penalties.
v Exeter, Away, Won 27-3. A Watkins, D Trick, A Thomas, A Rees, B Trevaskis, C Gabbitass, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, P Turner, P Simpson. Replacements – P Blackett and A Brooks – Brooks replaced Spurrell
But for the sour conclusion, this was a satisfying victory, with Bath running in four tries to Exeter’s solitary penalty. Tries were scored by Hakin, Trevaskis, Gabbitass (on his debut) and substitute Brooks. The back row of Spurrell, Turner and Simpson took control of matters from early on. Both Gabbitass and Watkins kicked two conversions, and Gabbitass added a penalty.
Near the end Chilcott was sent off for an alleged head-butting incident. He was adjudged the villain in a fracas that involved at least a dozen players.
v Launceston, Home, Won 50-24. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton (Capt), C Stanley, D Sole, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, N Maslen, P Turner, A Brooks. Replacements – A Thomas and N Redman – Thomas replaced Martin
Bath tries were scored by Trick (3), Trevaskis (2), Maslen (2) and Stanley. John Palmer converted six and added two penalties. The visitor’s fly half Neil Thompson did all he could to keep his team in the game. He contributed three penalties and converted tries by Stephens and Gerry. If anything, Bath were a bit too casual, as they strolled to their 13th successive victory, and consolidated their place at the top of the South West Merit Table.
v Wasps, Home, Won 26-12. John Player Cup – Quarter Final. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, R Hill, C Lilley, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson Replacements – C Stanley and G Bess – Bess replaced Cunningham in 27th minute. Stanley replaced Hill in the 13th minute.
TIME OUT FOR WASPS
Bath ended Wasps J P Cup challenge with a goal, two tries and four penalties to a goal, a dropped goal and a penalty. The deciding 13 Bath points came in the final 11 minutes. It should be observed that injury stoppages, necessitating four replacements, projected the game into 17 minutes additional playing time! Throughout the stoppages and numerous comings and goings, Horton remained untroubled and in charge. Wasps enjoyed a monopoly of line-out and scrummage success, but Bath’s back row of Spurrell, Hall and Simpson cleaned up in the loose.
“Bath’s defence was equal to any challenge and for all the tidying up and covering of Dun on behalf of Wasps later on, the Bath back row was never far from the ball in one capacity or another – and the ruck, not the maul, was king.” (John Mason – Daily Telegraph)
Tries by Trick (2) and Gaymond, with Palmer converting one and landing four penalties.
v Ebbw Vale, Home, Won 25-18. C Ralston, P Simmons, J Palmer, A Thomas, C Martin, J Horton (Capt), C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, R Lee, N Gaymond, R F Hakin, P Turner, N Maslen, A Brooks. Replacements – A Watkins and N Redman
Horton’s drop goal and Palmer’s penalty and try put Bath 10-7 ahead at the interval. In the second half Ralston contributed three penalties and in the final minute, Horton’s attempted drop goal rebounded off the posts, enabling Turner to bag a late and lucky try, for Ralston to convert. To some extent, it was a moral victory to Ebbw Vale, with a try count of 3 to 2 in their favour. Oxford Blue, Tony Brooks, was prominent in driving play, but there was a general lack of concentration, which allowed Ebbw Vale back into the game. It was evident that the Bath players’ thoughts were on the impending Cup Semi!
v Nottingham, Away, Won 12-3. John Player Cup – Semi Final. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, R Lee, N Redman, N Gaymond, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson Replacements – C Ralston, S Knight, J Morrison, D Sole, P Turner, J Dean – Ralston replaced Palmer and Morrison replaced Gaymond
This game brought an unforgettable moment of triumph for United’s Captain and prop, Chris Lilley. At a finely balanced stage in this tense Semi Final, Chris found himself out in the open – ball in hand. In unique circumstances, what does a prop do? Does he run on, pass or what? Well, Chris produced a delicate, almost inch perfect punt ahead to the right touch line. David Trick accepted the bouncing ball at speed and scorched over in the corner. Opinion was divided on whether this was brilliant play or just a prop getting rid of the ball. It turned the game in Bath’s favour. Next stop Twickenham.
Ralston converted Trick’s try and added two penalties.
v Llanelli, Home, Won 22-19. C Martin, D Trick, C Ralston, A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, C Lilley, N Gaymond, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Watkins and A Marriott – Watkins replaced Ralston and Marriott replaced Gaymond
It was Bath’s 17th successive win. Bath tries by Gaymond and Simpson, with replacement Watkins converting one and kicking four penalties. Simpson’s 74th minute try clinched Bath’s 17th successive victory, retained the Rag Doll in England, and most of all – kept Bath on track for their first John Player Cup Final. Bath had shown early indifference and might have been forgiven if their minds were on Twickenham – a fortnight hence. “But Roger Spurrell rallied his men superbly, a commanding second half pack performance spearheaded by tearaway John Hall destroyed the Welshman’s poise and with valuable place-kicking from replacement centre Alun Watkins. Bath squeezed home.”
v Glamorgan Wanderers, Home, Lost 6-9. A Watkins, P Simmons, Dean Padfield, Andy Thomas, Peter Drewitt, C Gabittass, R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, C Folland, J Morrison, N Redman, P Turner, N Maslen, A Brooks. Replacements – M Sparkes
Bath fielded two of their probable Cup Final selection, and slumped to their first defeat in 18 matches. While Glamorgan Wanderers thumped over three first half penalties, Bath’s only high point came in the 20th minute, when Hill made a sharp blind-side burst and sent away Peter Drewitt for the games only try, which Alun Watkins converted. There were some pretty anonymous performances behind the scrum.
v Bristol, Away, Won 10-9. JOHN PLAYER CUP FINAL.C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer (1pg), A Rees, B Trevaskis, J Horton (1dg), R Hill, G Chilcott, R Cunningham, R Lee, N Gaymond, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson (T) Ref – R Quittenton (LONDON) Replacements – A Watkins, C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, R F Hakin, P Turner.
Former Irish International, Ronnie Hakin, was singularly unlucky to miss Final selection. He had suffered injury and illness, and Nigel Redman was the preferred player. Of the original first choice players, Simon Halliday also missed out, as he was still recovering from his ankle injury.
In the first half, the back row dominated and Bath built up a ten point cushion, notwithstanding Palmer missing four penalty attempts. John Horton had dropped a goal in the 5th minute of play. Then Paul Simpson ploughed over in the eighteenth minute, after a break from the scrum, and a well-timed shove from teammate John Hall. Barnes (Bristol) and Palmer swopped penalties before half-time.
In the second half, Bristol showed some of their old style. Richard Harding streaked away from a tapped penalty, and Barnes converted. In extra time, and after both sides had experienced many frantic moments, Bristol were awarded a penalty. Amidst an eerie hush, Barnes lined up for the ‘winning kick.’ Bath players stood around helpless, and unable to influence events. Skipper, Spurrell turned his back, crumpled to the ground and would not look………….. Barnsie missed!
Bath were not to turn back again. Their era of achievement had begun.
Jack Rowell is reported to have missed these final agonising minutes, having left his seat to pace up and down behind the stand!
The Bath Club were the toast of the City. After returning from Twickenham, the players came home to a party. It was a start to a weekend of celebrations, and on the Sunday they were guests of honour at a civic reception hosted by the Mayor of Bath, Mr Elgar Jenkins and city councillors.
In the Mayor’s speech, referring to the win: “Saturday’s match was the greatest moment in our sporting history.”
He also admitted to winning a £5 bet with the Mayor of Bristol, and another side bet with the wife of an Avon County Councillor for a pound of cheese!
Skipper, Roger Spurrell, sat himself down opposite the Cup – and stared at it for hours!
To cap it all off nicely, Bath were voted the Victoria Wine Rugby Team of the Season.
Ten cases of Moet & Chandon champagne and an appropriate trophy were duly delivered to the Club.
Bath finished 5th in the English-Welsh Sunday Telegraph table and 2nd to Wasps in the English Clubs table.
v Newport, Away, Lost 7-52. J Orzabel, P Simmons, C Book, D Padfield, P Blackett, K Prosser, C Stanley, C Lilley (Capt), G Bess, I Davies, M Bugden, A Marriott, N Maslen, L Lark, S Jones. Replacement – G Norman.
John Callard, destined to join Bath, was at full-back for Newport, and landed three conversions.
Perhaps it was a game too many. A totally reserve team crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season – but did it really matter! Pete Blackett scored a good try and Chris Stanley a penalty.
Newport dominated from start to finish, and a fair indication of their forward superiority was evidenced by no fewer than four push-over tries – a Club record of an unwelcome kind!
Simon Jones, Chris Stanley and Keith Prosser were prominent in Bath’s desperate rearguard action.
As a result of their season of high achievement, Bath were honoured with ‘The Team of the Season Award,’ by readers of the Sunday Telegraph.
“As I understand it, that’s 120 bottles, which must be an excuse for a party, ” said Bath Honorary Secretary Clive Howard.
FOR THE RECORD
TRIES:- (123) Trick 19, Trevaskis 12, Gaymond 10, Martin 8, Simmons 7, Hall, Hill, Horton, Palmer and Simpson 6, Blackett 5, Cunningham 4, Hakin, Maslen and Sparkes 3, Ralston, Rees and Turner 2, Bess, Brookes, Chilcott, Drewitt, Gabbitass, Halliday, John, Jones, Lewis, Padfield, Spurrell, Stanley and Watkins 1 each.
CONVERSIONS:- (66) Palmer 32, Watkins 15, Ralston 13, Martin 3, Gabbitass 2 and Trick 1.
PENALTY GOALS:- (73) Palmer 32, Watkins 18, Ralston 16, Martin 5, Gabbitass and Stanley 1.
DROPPED GOALS:- (9) Horton 9.
TOP POINTS:- Palmer 184, Watkins 88, Ralston 82, Trick 78, Martin 53, Horton 51.
APPEARANCES:- Gaymond 33, Lee 31, Horton 29, Trick 29, Martin 27, Rees and Trevaskis 26, Chilcott and Hill 24, Hakin23, Turner 22, Palmer and Simpson 21, Bess and Hall 20, Spurrell 19, Redman 18, Maslen and Ralston 16, Stanley 15, Cunningham, Lilley and Simmons 13, Watkins 12, Brooks 11, Jones and Padfield 9, Thomas 8, Adams, Halliday and Marriott 6, Blackett5, Folland and Sparkes 4, H Davies 3, Bugden, I Davies, Gabbitass, Lye, Morrison, Norris, Orzabel and Sole 2, Beese, Book, Burr, Crowe, Deane, Drewitt, John, Lark, Lewis, Patching, Prosser and Walker once. each.
CAREER APPEARANCES:- Lye 450, Horton 350, Beese 317, Palmer 216, Lee 160, Spurrell 159, Chilcott 154, Trevaskis 148, Simmons 142, Jones 116, Trick 115, Gaymond 96, Ralston 95, Rees 87, Martin 83 and Hall 80.
Bath’s John Player Cup triumph crowned hard unstinting work by Roger Spurrell, previous captains, players, and back-up coaching and fitness staff.
As Bath Chronicle’s John Stevens commented: “Hard work combined with considerable talent – lifted Bath to new heights.”