v Plymouth Albion, Home, Won 40-0. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, J Hall, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – A Swift & M Roberts
Stuart Barnes fluffed his first three penalty attempts playing under the Bath banner. However, he soon made up for a shaky introduction, with a personal tally of 16 points, comprised of a try and 6 successful conversions. John Horton, the former occupant of the fly-half spot, was about to ply his trade with Bristol. In this opener, Barnes admitted to being nervous, but this was probably the only occasion that he was to reveal any self-doubts. Horton had given great service to Bath; he had the ability to receive his scrum-half pass standing deep, and then set off with dazzling side steps that bamboozled many a defence. If his play posed any difficulty, it was that his rapid changes of direction made it difficult for supporting players to follow his running lines. Stuart Barnes proved to be the master of taking and receiving the flat pass, and introduced a superior brand of tactical awareness. Orchestrated by the coaching staff, it was to revolutionise Bath’s style of play and lead to undreamed of League and Cup success.
As to the rest, the line-out was ‘cleaned-up’ by Redman and Egerton. Plymouth were exposed to a torrid time in the scrums and horrid times in the loose. The visitors crumbled under tries by Trevaskis, Hall, Palmer (2), Halliday, Barnes, and Martin. Skipper John Palmer gave an inspiring display. Ever alert for an opening, he added fluency to the back line, and added a pleasing two-try contribution to these most promising opening proceedings.
Scotland B prop David Sole was pressing hard for a regular 1st XV place, at the expense of long-serving England B prop Richard Lee. He finally succeeded in edging Richard out, and Gareth Chilcott switched to tight head.
v Alberta Province, Home, Won 36-10. C Martin, A Swift, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, M Rhydderch-Roberts, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, K Withey, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – C Stanley & J Deane
First appearance for Tony Swift who had transferred from Swansea. He celebrated his debut and the arrival of a baby son with two tries – one in the wake of a vast heave from supporting forwards and a second opportunist effort, when he dribbled ahead, picked up and swivelled through a tackle to score. Swift’s speed and ability to swerve, particularly in-field, to beat his man was to become a feature of this former England winger’s play at Bath.
Other tries flowed from Palmer, Hill, Redman, Egerton, and Barnes, already the darling of the ‘Flowerpot crowd,’ succeeded with 3 conversions a penalty and a drop goal, as well as producing some fine touch-finding kicks.
v Leicester, Away, Won 40-15. C Martin (T), D Trick (T), J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis (Tx2), S Barnes (2pg & 5g), R Hill (T), G Chilcott, G Bess, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman (T), J Hall, P Simpson, D Egerton Ref – L Prideaux (N. MIDS). Replacements – C Stanley & C Folland
The Leicester team was:- W (Dusty) Hare, Barry Evans, Paul Dodge, Clive Woodward, K Williams, Les Cusworth, Nick Youngs, Steve Redfern, Peter Wheeler, M Whitcombe, J Davidson,
Malcolm Foulkes-Arnold ( G Smith 75 minutes), John Wells, A Marriott and Ron Tebbutt.
It was quite an improvement on Bath’s previous best win, which was 16 points to 3 in 1919!
John Stevens (Bath Chronicle) wrote:
“It was one of the most devastating performances I have ever seen Bath give on a major opponent’s ground in 30 years of rugby reporting, even allowing for some of last season’s efforts, including the win at Llanelli.”
Bath forwards were unstoppable: “They outscrummaged Leicester, outjumped them in the line-out where Nigel Redman and Jon Morrison with ample help from David Egerton and John Hall at the back were supreme and produced a display of driving in the loose which was very reminiscent of All Blacks at their best” Hare’s three penalties kept the score level until half time, then Hill and Barnes sowed the seeds for Leicester’s eventual annihilation. From a quick penalty tap, Redman powered over after a long kick and run from Trick.
“With the wind at their backs, Bath’s pack pummelled fading, dispirited Leicester into submission, exerting such pressure, that tries were inevitable.” Paul Simpson and David Sole were devastating in the loose and tries came thick and fast as Barry Trevaskis, looking sharp and alert on the left wing, touched down twice, Trick used his pace to get another, Hill finished off a power shove by his pack and full-back *Chris Martin, butt of the abuse of the 10,000 crowd, had the last laugh with a fine piece of acceleration before touching down.” Barnes kicked another penalty and converted all but the last try, with a polished and cool display. (Quotes from Bath Chronicle)
*Chris Martin had a poor game against Ireland in Dublin the previous season, where he had fluffed two high kicks. Thankfully for Bath, he had the character to shrug off this memory and continue at his impressive best for Bath.
Kevin Coughlan (Bristol Evening Post 16th September (Extracts)
“This was supposed to have been a nostalgic farewell for Leicester’s England and Lions centre Clive Woodward.
But ruthless Bath wrecked the party and left Woodward’s team-mates wishing they could join him on the plane to Australia after a record defeat.”
“Such was the dominance of the forwards that Paul Simpson could afford to stand out of the rucks and mauls, setting up one attack after another.”
(Editor’s Note:- Shades of revolutionary changes in play, to follow some ten years hence)
v Pontypridd, Home, Won 45-29. J Palmer, D Trick (Tx2), A Thomas, J Guscott (T), A Swift (left field injured), S Barnes (1dg & 5g), C Stanley (T), R Lee (T), M Rhydderch-Roberts, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, N Maslen, K Withey, D Egerton (Tx3) Replacements – B Trevaskis & G Chilcott – Trevaskis replaced Palmer & Chilcott replaced Roberts
Not for the first time, an Anglo-Pontypridd encounter had some torrid moments. After the match, Bath officials were considering an official protest after a severe head wound to Bath University student, hooker, Mark Roberts. Ironically, he had been a Pontypridd player the previous season!
There was a major forward flare-up 15 minutes into the second half, but referee Harding’s stern warning applied temporary coolant to the warring factions. Egerton reigned supreme in the line-out, and crowned his effort with no fewer than three tries.
Jack Rowell’s charges were hitting top form – and it was only the fourth match!
John Hall was suffering with knee ligament problems and schoolboy chum Kevin Withey was a ready replacement.
v Moseley, Home, Won 50-10. C Martin (T), D Trick, J Guscott, S Halliday (T), B Trevaskis (T), S Barnes (2pg & 6g), R Hill (Tx2), G Chilcott, G Bess (T), D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, K Withey (T), N Maslen, D Egerton (T) Replacements – M Sparkes & C Lilley
Watched by England selector, Mike Weston, it was Moseley’s heaviest defeat by an English club for 15 years. Withey and Egerton eagerly grasped their opportunities in the absence of Hall, Spurrell and Simpson. The support play was of the highest order and the Midlanders were left to rock back on their heels – and admire. Bath won this Smith’s Merit Table match by six goals, two tries and two penalties to a goal and a try. Barnes kicked eight out of ten kicks.
“Moseley compounded rubbery legs with diminishing commitment…”
(Thus wrote Michael Austin in the Daily Telegraph 23rd September 1985)
“Our attitude is one of absolute greed. We are not satisfied to win by 20 points – we want as many as possible. ” (Quotation by Simon Halliday to journalist Peter Godsiff)
“Jeremy Guscott – Bath’s answer to Bristol’s Ralph Knibbs as a mercurial centre who mesmerised the opposition with unorthodox runs – staked a claim for a regular place.” (Peter Godsiff EVENING POST)
“I’ve never played with or against a better organised club than Bath. That is not being disparaging to Bristol or anybody else, it’s simply a fact.” Barnes to Peter Godsiff EVENING POST 24th September 1985
v Newport, Away, Drawn 16-16. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday (T), B Trevaskis, S Barnes (2pg & 1g), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, D Sole, J Morrison (T), N Redman, N Maslen, K Withey, D Egerton. Replacements – A Thomas & C Folland.
Whether the Bath forwards needed to take a breather or were just out of sorts was not clear from this tie at Rodney Parade. A crucial feature of these games was the performance of back rows, and in this department Bath were outplayed, particularly by the outstanding Newport flanker Roger Powell.
Bath managed to hold on to their unbeaten record, courtesy of a fine performance from Simon Halliday and Newport’s wayward set-piece kicking – and the Newport kicker – none other than Jonathan Callard, destined to become part of Bath and England’s stock- in- trade. True, it was difficult to keep to the early season peak, but extra forward training was mandatory.
v Llanelli, Away, Won 18-15. C Martin, D Trick (T), J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes (2pg & 2g), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, N Maslen, K Withey (T), D Egerton. Replacements – P Drewitt & R Lee
Depleted by the wear and tear from an all- too- crowded fixture list, Bath did well to retain the Rag Doll, in an exciting game against the Welsh Cup holders at Stradey Park. The Scarlets failed to cross the Bath line, having to rely on fly-half Gary Pearce for his five successful penalties. Halliday was back to his old form and it was his break that left Kevin Withey to hack on for a try on the half-hour. Barnes improved Bath’s position, landing two out of three penalties in the first quarter, as well as converting the try. (Half-time 12-6) At the re-start Halliday and Palmer orchestrated the next score: “…but it was really pure David Trick at his best, as he took the latter’s long pass, spurted outside one tackle and inside another to give Barnes another conversion which took his points total for the season to 93.”
Pearce missed further penalty attempts, and tried for two drop goals, but Bath defence held firm for a memorable win on Welsh soil.
v South Wales Police, Home, Won 29-18. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer (T), J Guscott, B Trevaskis, S Barnes (3pg & 2g), R Hill, R Lee (T), J Deane (T), D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman (T), N Maslen, R Spurrell, D Egerton. Replacements – P Simmons & G Chilcott.
Welsh international Bleddyn Bowen and his team made Bath fight for this win and, until ten minutes from the end, there was the distinct possibility that the home record might be sacrificed. The advantage of Wales’ Steve Sutton in the line-out almost proved decisive, as the policemen were kept supplied with good ball. Bath established a narrow half-time lead when Palmer held an inside pass from the speeding David Trick. At the re-start, Richard Lee powered over from a tap penalty move, but the Police pulled back with a penalty and a converted try. Neither side showed a clear advantage, so it was left to Roger Spurrell to exhort his pack to even greater levels, while Guscott and Palmer began to find gaps in defence. This enabled Palmer, with a typical dummying run, to feed Jimmy Deane, who grounded under the posts. Barnes chalked up his personal century of points with his conversion, got another penalty soon after and converted an injury time try by Nigel Redman. Redman showed considerable resilience with this final effort. He had been struggling with a twisted ankle. The 21-year-old grabbed the ball from a line-out and burst through several tackles to score.
v Aberavon, Away, Lost 15-16. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, J Guscott, S Barnes (T, 3pg & 1c), R Hill, G Chilcott, J Deane, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, N Maslen, D Egerton. Replacements – M Sparkes & C Folland – Sparkes replaced Halliday (hamstring) & Folland replaced Chilcott (trapped nerve)
Stuart Barnes kicked three penalties inside twenty minutes. He scored Bath’s only try and supplied the conversion. Bath backs had a generally anonymous afternoon, as they were handicapped by slow service from the pack. The team started short of five regulars and were forced to substitute Halliday and Chilcott in the second half. Egerton, Spurrell, Barnes and Martin figured continuously in heroic tackling, but it was not enough to keep out the speed of thought and deed of the Welsh ‘Wizards.’
Perhaps it was as well to cede the ‘unbeaten’ tag, so as to work for peak performance at critical stages of the Cup and League programme.
v Liverpool, Away, Won 26-12. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, S Carter, R Hill, D Sole, M Rhydderch-Roberts, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, J Hall, D Egerton. Replacements – P Drewitt & G Chilcott
Referee – I Bullerwell (E. MIDS) tore an Achilles tendon and was replaced by P E Hughes of Manchester Society.
Barnes was out with a hamstring injury, so Millfield schoolboy Simon Carter took his bow at outside half. The crowd was sympathetic to his attack of nerves in the early stages and he benefited from warm applause, when he scored Bath’s 5th try in the 51st minute. Bath coasted to a comfortable victory with tries by Trick, Carter, Hill (2), Lee and Hall. Palmer converted one.
v Bristol, Home, Won 26-7. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis (T), S Barnes (1dg, 2g & 1pg), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Bess, D Sole (T), J Morrison, N Redman (T), R Spurrell, J Hall, D Egerton (T) Ref – R Quittenton (LONDON). Replacements – C Stanley & R Lee
Bath were frustrated by Roger Quittenton’s application of the amended ‘pile-up’ laws. Admittedly, he was apologetic, both before and after the game, but the stultifying hold -ups did not suit Bath’s driving play. A Stuart Barnes drop goal provided an early advantage, but Bristol fought back determinedly. Bath matched Bristol in the lineout, but rampaged in the loose, where Spurrell and Egerton reigned supreme. In the set piece play, Nigel Redman had an outstanding game, to boost the front five effort.
“By half- time they were nine-nil ahead, Barnes having converted a well -rehearsed try from a tap penalty by Redman and the early stages of the second half put the issue beyond doubt.
Barnes and Richard Hill with quick-silver reflexes down the blind side, with support from Bess, paved the way for a try by David Sole and Egerton then crashed over from another planned move from a tap penalty.
But the try which really ended Bristol’s hopes came from left-wing Barry Trevaskis who spurted in brilliantly from an interception on halfway for Barnes to convert.” (Bath Chronicle)
Barnes kept Bath ahead with a final penalty and a large proportion of the 8,000 crowd went away happy.
As to Chilcott: “Like a music hall villain, he’s the player the Bristol supporters love to hate. And he relishes the role, as any extrovert would.” (Kevin Coughlan BRISTOL EVENING POST)
THE MATCH OF THE SEASON – One is tempted to say – DECADE, but there were many more superlative performances to come.
v Cardiff, Home, Won 16-13. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes (2g), R Hill, R Lee (T), M Rhydderch-Roberts, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell (T), J Hall (T), D Egerton. Estimated attendance 9,000. Ref – L Prideaux (N. MIDS). Replacements – C Stanley & G Chilcott
The back row of Spurrell, Hall and Egerton dominated proceedings and general support play was the key to this truly outstanding victory. Cardiff were ruffled, as Bath rucked and mauled ferociously. Barnes missed penalty chances, but the home side found themselves 10-7 up at half-time. Two tries had come in the first four minutes, as first Holmes launched himself from the open side of the scrum and, in reply, Barnes set up Richard Lee with a towering up- and -under; Barnes converted. Bath’s marauding back row continued to harass Cardiff into errors, but they did pull back with a Davies penalty.
Stuart Barnes, John Palmer and Simon Halliday combined for one of the finest exhibitions of mid-field play ever witnessed. In the forwards, David Egerton gave a ferocious display at number 8 and was deservedly ‘Man of the Match.’ He was simply outstanding! England captain John Scott was eclipsed by the former Bishop Wordsworth pupil.
“Bath, who had initially used Barnes to test Cardiff with an aerial bombardment, broadened their game and this resources was rewarded with a try for the energetic Hall in a 70 yard move which featured a devastating break by Halliday.” (Bath Chronicle)
Next, Palmer featured in moves which lead to a try by Spurrell and a Barnes conversion. Temperaments were severely tested in the closing stages, Davies succeeding with three kicks, two from long range.
“Bath conceded two scrums near their own line in a tingling finale but Holmes was penalised at a put-in and Cardiff’s last hope disappeared in defeat by two goals and a try to a try and three penalty goals.”
Holmes maintained that he put the ball in straight. However, he freely admitted that Cardiff were “taken to the cleaners” on that memorable Wednesday night.
Kevin Coughlan (Bristol Evening Post) – reflections on Bath v Cardiff.
“NO-ONE has seen a crowd quite like it at the Rec. in recent memory. They were hanging out of the trees, off buildings – any vantage point to witness the Anglo-Welsh clash of the decade.
For once a game more than lived up to its billing. Cardiff brought a star-studded line-up including Adrian Hadley, Terry Holmes, Alan Phillips, Bob Norster and John Scott while Bath were virtually at full-strength too.
From the very first minute, it throbbed with drama, passion and skill at an intensity which makes it, for me, the most memorable club match I’ve seen on the ground.”
Wins against Bristol and then Cardiff were outstanding achievements in any season. Jack Rowell’s squad then included 10 internationals, three B Internationals and 9 members of England’s last training party. “Bath’s will to win was unanswerable.” (Kevin Coughlan)
Extract Daily Express 25th October 1985 (By Tony Bodley)
Quoting John Palmer under headline:
Why Bath are still on the boil
“ I am convinced we can win the Cup for a third successive time and the same holds true for the two seasons after that.
We still have the same squad and there is no team in England to touch us. There’s no real magic.
It’s the result of a lot of hard work on and off the field..”
Chief influence off the field is coach Jack Rowell. His giant frame makes every room shrink in size. A high- powered businessman, he proved his quality by guiding Gosforth to successive John Player Cup victories in 1976 and 1977.
Hudson way – He is helped by physical fitness expert Tom Hudson of Bath University. He deals also with the psychological build-up.”
v United Services (Portsmouth), Away, Won 29-13. C Martin, A Swift (T), J Palmer (Tx2), J Guscott (T, 3g & 1pg), B Trevaskis (T), S Carter, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Bess, C Folland, M Jones, N Redman, K Withey, N Maslen, P Simpson Replacements – K Prosser & J Deane – Prosser replaced Palmer & Deane replaced Bess
Although Services opened the score with a penalty, Bath’s speed and ability proved too hot to handle. Barry Trevaskis opened up Bath’s scoring portfolio, closely followed by Jeremy Guscott. Palmer’s two tries came in the second half, Swift got another and Guscott added three conversions and a penalty.
Swift was returning after a month’s lay off through leg injury and he celebrated his return in style. The Services could find no counter to Bath’s open style of play.
v Maesteg, Home, Won 30-9. C Martin, A Swift (Tx3), J Palmer (T), J Guscott (1g), B Trevaskis, S Barnes (2g), R Hill (T), G Chilcott, M Rhydderch-Roberts, R Lee (T), J Morrison, N Redman, J Hall, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – A Thomas & D Sole
Tony Swift ran in three tries within the last seven minutes. Richard Lee scored his fifth try in six games. Stuart Barnes succeeded with 2 kicks, from 6 attempts. Guscott kicked a conversion.
These were the main features of a comfortable win against this lively Welsh side. Richard Hill was in top form- and initiated many attacks from the base of the scrum. A try was an appropriate reward for a first class performance. John Palmer was particularly sharp.
v Newbridge, Away, Won 23-15. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer (Tx2), S Halliday (T), A Swift (T), S Barnes (2g & 1pg), R Hill, G Chilcott, M Rhydderch-Roberts, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, D Egerton Replacements – M Sparkes & C Folland – Sparkes replaced Swift.
Simon Halliday scored a breathtaking try: “Hooker Mark Roberts fed the backs from a ruck on the Bath 22, Chris Martin stretched his legs on the outside and Halliday, in support, dummied his way over.” (Kevin Coughlan)
Halliday again featured in the second half, when he carved his way through, enabling Swift to link and send in Palmer for the first of his two tries. “The coup de grace was delivered with lethal precision four minutes later. Barnes hoisted a beautiful Garryowen and Halliday timed his leap perfectly before transferring to Swift, who sped over from 25 metres.” (Kevin Coughlan)
Roger Spurrell and David Egerton were outstanding in defence.
v Gloucester, Away, Lost 11-15. C Martin, D Trick (Tx2), J Palmer (1pg), S Halliday, A Swift, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, M Rhydderch-Roberts, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, D Egerton. Replacements – J Guscott & D Sole.
This was Bath’s first defeat of the season by an English Club, in a match which affected the John Smith and South West Merit tables. It was an off-day for Bath, and perhaps, a manifestation of the rigours of an overcrowded fixture list, demanding continually fierce competition. Bath succumbed to Gloucester’s unrelenting forward effort, and the backs gave a lack-lustre performance. Chris Martin was a noticeable exception, giving a faultless display, under testing high balls. He featured in some sparkling play just following the re-start. He came up into the three-quarter line and cross-kicked into the far corner, for David Trick to outstrip all opposition for a fine try. Stuart Barne’s lack of kicking form, epitomised Bath’s tired performance. But, who could blame them?
v Coventry, Away, Won 22-16. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, S Barnes, R Hill, R Lee, M Rhydderch-Roberts, D Sole, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – S Knight & G Chilcott
Bath gifted away a stream of penalties to scrum-half Thomas. So much so, that Coventry, the markedly less talented side, were in sight of stealing a surprise victory. Bath recovered from Coventry’s early push-over try, to come back with a powerful display on all fronts – driving, rucking and line-out play – all to good effect. Stuart Barnes regained his kicking form, converting tries by Swift and Simpson, landing two penalties and adding his own try for good measure. It was somewhat predictable that coach, Jack Rowell, would have something to say about those needless penalties.
v Exeter, Away, Won 57-0. J Orzabel, A Gunner, J Guscott, A Thomas, M Sparkes, J Palmer, S Knight, G Chilcott, M Rhydderch-Roberts, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, K Withey, D Egerton Replacements – Simon Carter replaced Palmer & Jenkins replaced Spurrell
This was a free scoring bonanza for Bath, but Spurrell’s mind was distracted on his possible selection to lead the South West Divisional side. After a typically committed performance, he made a limping departure from the field of play, eventually convincing the doctor of his incapacity. This obliged the 37 year-old selector, Brian Jenkins, to emerge from retirement and pack down in the second row. Skipper John Palmer had already made a ‘tactical’ withdrawal at half-time.
Martin Sparkes ran in the first of his 4 tries after 28 seconds. Jeremy Guscott enjoyed two tries and 3 conversions; Palmer weighed in with 2 tries, 2 conversions and a penalty. Additional tries by M Roberts, J Morrison and K Withey.
v Neath, Home, Lost 7-13. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift (T), S Barnes (1pg), R Hill, D Sole, M Rhydderch-Roberts, G Chilcott, J Morrison, N Redman, S Jones, P Simpson, D Egerton Replacements –A Thomas & R Lee – Thomas replaced Roberts & Lee replaced Sole.
CHILCOTT THE MEDIATOR!
This was a bruising unpleasant affair, with a succession of unsavoury incidents and injuries. Neath won by a goal, try and penalty, to Bath’s try and penalty goal. Bath were severely disrupted by Neath’s unrelenting attacks. Almost unbridled aggression brought a spate of injuries. David Sole withdrew with a deep cut beneath his right eye and his hooker, Roberts followed later with damaged ribs. The Neath loosehead, Williams, dislocated his shoulder and Lyn Jones hobbled off in the final minutes. Jones had been the target for some crowd abuse, and it was his late tackle on Barnes, which generated Bath’s penalty.
Amid the mayhem, Gareth Chilcott was observed as a restraining influence, emerging with great credit, after starting as tighthead, moving to loosehead and ending as hooker!
Tony Swift got Bath’s try, after following up Palmer’s well placed kick.
v London Scottish, Home, Lost 8-10. J Orzabel, P Simmons, A Thomas, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, S Carter, S Knight, C Lilley, J Deane, R Lee, A Hudson, J Morrison, A Burr, K Withey, J Hall (Capt). Replacements – M Sutton
The ‘Exciles’ arrived as unbeaten leaders of the John Smith Merit Table. They were fortunate that their last minute try by Dave Buchanan saved the game for them. Divisional commitments had forced Bath to field a much under-strength side, but they were magnificently led by flanker John Hall, who had returned following a knee operation. Half-backs Steve Knight and Simon Carter, supplemented Hall’s fiery activity with constructive play and the makeshift side played with such dedication, that the Scots were indeed lucky to come away with a win. Tries by Knight and Trevaskis.
v Cheltenham, Home, Won 19-18. J Orzabel, P Simmons (Capt), A Thomas, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, S Carter, C Stanley, C Lilley, J Deane, R Lee, A Hudson, J Morrison, A Burr, K Withey, R Lye. Replacements – P Blackett & I Davies
Bath again fielded a weakened side, with players standing by for the following Saturday’s Divisional selections. In the forwards, the only 1st XV regulars were Jon Morrison and Richard Lee. There was very little clean possession and the makeshift back division suffered in consequence. Nevertheless, tries flowed from the quarter hour onwards, as Julian Orzabel, Barry Trevaskis and Andy Thomas touched down successively. John Morrison scored in the second half and a late penalty by Chris Stanley completed Bath’s scoring effort. Jeremy Guscott was off target with his conversion attempts.
v Harlequins, Home, Lost 7-26. J Orzabel, P Simmons, A Thomas, J Guscott, P Blackett, M Sutton, C Stanley, C Folland, J Deane, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, K Withey, R Lye, P Simpson (Capt). Replacements –S Knight & M Roberts
Divisional demands were continuing to take their toll, and Bath’s reserves were unequal to the task of handling Harlequins. Again, the forwards put in a lively performance, but there was little cohesion in the back division. The exception was scrum-half Chris Stanley, who scored a try and masterminded the few phases of positive play. Mark Sutton dropped a fine goal, but Guscott was again out of form with his place kicking.
v Cardiff, Away, Lost 12-30. C Martin, P Simmons, J Palmer, J Guscott, B Trevaskis (T), S Barnes (2g), R Hill, G Chilcott, J Deane, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell (T), J Hall, D Egerton. Replacements – C Stanley & P Simpson – Simpson replaced Spurrell
Playing in difficult conditions, Bath had arrived determined to break the Arms Park bogey. Historically, the first game was in 1924 and of the 34 encounters, 27 had been won by Cardiff and 6 by Bath, with one drawn. Bath started at a cracking pace, and Trevaskis scored in the first three minutes, for Barnes to convert. Appropriately encouraged, Spurrell dashed over following a wheeled scrum, Barnes added the extras and Bath were 12 points ahead. However, Cardiff rallied with two tries before the interval. (One converted) Half-time Bath 12, Cardiff 10
In the second spell, Alan Phillips revitalised the Cardiff pack and along with Gareth Davies, commenced to dominate play. Try as they may, Bath could not score again, whilst Cardiff ran in three tries.
Cardiff fielded ten internationals and Bath eight, and the game was an exhibition of superb rugby. Both sides deserved the warm applause for the manner of their play, and referee Clive Norling contributed much to the general enjoyment. But still – no win at Cardiff!
v Waterloo, Home, Won 16-6. C Martin, A Swift, J Palmer, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, J Deane, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, K Withey, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Thomas & B Kenny
These were the days when skipper, Jim Syddall was a great disruptive influence in Waterloo line-out play. Characteristically, there was an early struggle for forward dominance, when approximately, every half-minute, yielded either a free kick or a penalty. During this period, Bath were estimated to have missed something in the region of ten kicking attempts, which did not auger well for oncoming John Player tie at Orrell. Scrum-half, David Carfoot dropped a goal for the visitors in the second minute and Maurice Cotter made it 6-0, with a successful penalty in the 10th minute. Whereat, Waterloo’s scoring effort was complete, and Palmer opened up for Bath with a ‘front of post’ penalty. Bath gradually gained the edge and Chris Martin’s up-and-under allowed Paul Simpson in for their first try and later Guscott won the race for another touch down. Palmer landed the day’s most difficult kick from the touch-line. Palmer had scored a second penalty for a rather scrambled victory. Nigel Redman put up a noteworthy performance throughout.
v London Welsh, Away, Lost 9-26. C Martin, A Swift, A Thomas, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, M Sutton, C Stanley, C Folland, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – P Blackett & M Roberts
The makeshift selection, had nevertheless, trained thoroughly for this encounter – Monday to Thursday to be exact! However, the task proved too great for a side missing nine of their J.P. Cup selections, and served to highlight the yawning gap between the reserves and the first choice players. Barry Trevaskis commented: “We played like we used to play five or six years ago. There was no direction behind the scrum and even our tight play went to pieces eventually.” Bath had taken a penalty lead for a late tackle on Guscott, only for their hosts to equalise for an identical offence, by Tony Swift, on Excile’s Andy Martin. Stanley succeeded once, within a number of penalty opportunities, and converted Jon Morrison’s try three minutes from time.
v Metropolitan Police, Home, Won 42-12. C Martin, A Swift, A Thomas, J Guscott, B Trevaskis, M Sutton, C Stanley, I Davies, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – M Sparkes & N Maslen
Bath gave a dominating performance against the Met. Side,
epitomised by outstanding play by from former England flanker, Paul Simpson. A magnificent back-row performance by Spurrell, Egerton, and Simpson, ground the Police side into submission. Also, the front five ranked for particular praise for their effective scrummaging, which denied the opposition of all but the most meagre possession. Chris Stanley was an effective link at scrum-half and tries flowed from Swift, Trevaskis, Stanley, Morrison (2), Spurrell, Simpson and Egerton (2). Guscott converted 2 and Stanley one.
v Royal Navy, Home, Won 63-10. C Martin, D Trick (Tx2 & 1g), J Palmer, S Halliday (T), B Trevaskis (Tx4), S Barnes (T, 3g & 1pg), R Hill, D Sole, G Dawe, G Chilcott, M Jones, N Redman (T), R Spurrell, J Hall (T), D Egerton (Tx2). Bath awarded a penalty try. Replacements – C Stanley & R Lee
Bath fielded 10 Internationals – A then club record, which stood for rather a short time!
It was a first appearance for farmer Graham Dawe, who commenced to commute between Bath and Launceston twice a week. Bath were beginning to play at their awesome best and ran in 12 tries, generated a penalty try, kicked 4 conversions and a penalty. With 11 tries in the bag, Bath might have been excused for taking a breather: “But skipper John Palmer knifed through and linked cleverly with full-back Chris Martin, who found John Hall still in support of a move that had begun on the Bath 10 -metre line. The England flanker brushed aside three tacklers to score the best of thirteen tries.” (Report -Kevin Coughlan)
Hall was at the peak of his form, having been in the victorious England side versus Wales the previous Saturday. Bath looked particularly sharp in advance of their Cup date with Orrell.
v Orrell, Away, Drawn 16-16. John Player Special Cup – Third Round. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, D Sole, G Dawe, G Chilcott, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, D Egerton. Replacements – C Stanley & R Lee
Bath went through to next round on away team qualifying rule. On the day, Orrell were beaten fair and square in the pack, but the Orrell backs, Clough, Carleton, Williams and Ainscough, proved quite a handful. Referee Garth Cromwell, Gloucester Society, came in for a great deal of verbal lashing, as the extremely partisan homesters questioned almost every adverse decision. So Bath squeezed through with tries by Egerton and Hill, with a conversion and two penalties by Barnes. Egerton was without peer in the line-out, whilst Redman was a commanding presence in all other aspects of forward play.
Jon Morrison played his best ever game in a Bath shirt. The renowned Orrell pack were pushed hither and thither all afternoon, but as the score line indicates – it was a close run thing!
But what an atmosphere! It was lovely stuff! Departing Bath supporters kept their heads down, to hide an inner glow of ‘victory!’ It was a great day out – the beer was cheap, and as usual, the meat pies were marvellous.
BRINGING BACK THE SPOILS
The writer of these notes won the Orrell Club Raffle on a 50p ticket. As he and his wife were about to depart, they were presented with a whole sheep (thankfully, cut up) and an assortment of large sacks containing, Potatoes, Swedes, Cabbages, Onions etc.
But how to get it home? Thankfully, a group of friends stepped forward, and they all trooped off with a sack on their backs just like ‘the Seven Dwarfs.’ A helpful ‘Stones Coaches’ driver stacked it all in the luggage hold and they were away – ‘Happy as Larry!’ Hours later, there followed, a big share-out in the middle of Great Pulteney Street, when the tired but content travellers, got back to Bath in the small hours of the morning.
Oh What days!
v Rosslyn Park, Home, Won 35-3. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, J Hall, P Simpson, D Egerton. Bath awarded a penalty try. Replacements – J Orzabel & J Deane
11 Internationals (and counting!)
Stuart Barnes landed a simple penalty in less than a minute. It was but a prelude to s spate of scoring, notably Graham Dawe’s first try for the Club on the 17th minute. On the half-hour, Chris Martin and Simon Halliday combined to send in David Trick, for Barnes to convert. A penalty try followed in the 36rth minute, which Barnes converted. Hall secured a push-over try for a first half lead of 23-3.
Trick collected his second try in the opining minutes of the second half, followed by Barnes and Egerton. It was Egerton’s sixth try in four games.
v Royal Air Force, Home, Won 26-6. J Orzabel, P Simmons (Capt), J Guscott, B Cundy, A Gunner, P Cue, C Stanley, I Davies, G Bess, A Blackett, D Cronin, D Tugwell, K Withey, N Replacements – C Book & B Kenny – Kenny replaced Burr. Maslen replaced A Burr. It was an impressive debut appearance for former Bristol stalwart, Phil Cue, but it was fellow half-back Chris Stanley who held a near monopoly on the scoring. He scored two tries, two conversion and two penalties, with full-back Orzabel racing in for his try, and the referee awarded a penalty try for good measure.
v Moseley, Away, Won 22-4. John Player Special Cup – Fourth Round. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, D Sole, G Dawe, G Chilcott, J Morrison, N Redman, J Hall, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – C Stanley & R Lee – In a fiercely competitive encounter Lee replaced Sole in the 16th minute, after he was forced to quit the field with blood streaming from his face following a bump with Steve Boyle. An horrendous injury – broken nose and cheekbone kept him out for the rest of the season, and put his international career on hold.
Moseley were eventually brushed aside by Bath’s barnstorming forwards, of which Nigel Redman’s play was described as “sensational.” Jack Rowell could not remember any previous performance in which a second row forward exerted so great an influence on a game. His dedication to a peak of fitness was paying dividends. Allied to this, many players were still smarting from dismal results in the Divisional games, and were champing at the bit for this encounter.
That the game was staged at all, reflected great credit on the Moseley Club. Hours before the start, a huge band of volunteers had commenced removal of 1100 bales of straw, which had kept the heavy frost at bay. As the Bath supporters arrived, they were confronted with a scene, more reminiscent of haymaking time, rather than the usual green sward. Right up to kick-off time, lads were running off with handfuls of straw which had escaped the many rakings. Most rugby games were frozen out for several weeks.
It was still bitingly cold, and characteristically, winger David Trick, starved of action, spent much of his time with hands in pockets exchanging pleasantries with the crowd.
Moseley’s John Goodwin brought the first try of the afternoon. David Sole’s, some say: “controversial’ injury came after just 15 minutes, but the gap was quickly shorn up by bringing on Richard Lee, and Chilcott moving to loose head. There followed a try by Hall, converted Barnes, quickly followed by two fine penalties from Barnes, and Bath were suddenly 12-4 in the lead. Hall, Simpson and Egerton were at their rampaging best, and soon, Redman’s charge from a short-penalty, allowed Jon Morrison to touch down. More slick inter-play ended in Richard Hill crossing near the posts.
There was a long period of bad weather and a full month brought Bath straight back into Cup action.
v London Welsh, Away, Won 18-10. John Player Special Cup – Quarter Final. C Martin, A Swift, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes (2pg), R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, P Simpson, D Egerton. Replacements – C Stanley & G Bess
Hall was absent, having broken his thumb versus Scotland at Murrayfield.
Three Bath tries were scored by Simpson, Swift and Egerton, but despite the significance of the encounter, the enforced lay-off, made for a generally below par performance. Barnes added two penalties from five attempts, Palmer missed two, but what matter! Bath were through to the Semis.
David Egerton again ruled supreme in the line-out. There was the usual steady graft from second row partners, Morrison and Redman. Simpson revelled in the open play, whilst a slightly overweight Spurrell worked ceaselessly to win any loose ball around ground level. Indeed, Spurrell had revived his zest for the game, and his New Year’s resolution to end smoking, was going well thus far.
v Stroud, Home, Won 28-7. C Martin (T), A Swift (T), J Palmer (T), S Halliday, B Trevaskis (T), S Barnes (2g), C Stanley (Tx2), C Lilley, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, K Withey, P Simpson, D Egerton Ref – B Tozer (BERKS). Replacements – S Knight & G Bess – Knight replaced Halliday
“Bath skipper John Palmer brightened a dismal, rainy evening on the Recreation Ground last night as he displayed all the gifted attacking skills which made one wonder why he won only one England cap-, as a replacement, this season, as he led his side to the expected victory over Stroud.
He scored the first of six tries and made four more with his superbly-timed passing, subtle kicks and explosive bursts of acceleration to demonstrate the sort of pace which the national selectors, apparently, still reckon he doesn’t have.”
“Palmer, inevitably, was at the heart of most of the better things, which often involved Swift and the two had much to do with a second try by Stanley and another storming effort by full-back Chris Martin.” (Bath Chronicle)
v Exeter University, Home, Won 39-18. P Cue, P Simmons (Capt), B Cundy, I Abbott, D Trick, J Guscott, S Knight, C Lilley, G Bess, I Davies, M Jones, D Cronin, N Riou, K Withey, N Maslen. Replacements – C Book & J Deane
It was a comfortable enough run out for some of the then lesser ‘luminaries.’ Tries flowed from Cue, Abbott, Trick (2), Guscott (2), Steve Knight, and Withey. Phil Cue converted two and added a penalty.
v Richmond, Home, Won 30-13. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, P Cue, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, N Maslen, K Withey, P Simpson. Replacements – B Trevaskis & J Deane
Cue established appreciative rapport with the home crowd, by finally contributing one conversion after the previous six had all been missed – three by John Palmer, two by David Trick and one by Phil Cue himself. This was his first testing game at fly-half and he had found it difficult to settle in, particularly after being required to play at full-back two days earlier. Nevertheless, his touch kicking was a positive contribution, and his versatility of continual advantage to the Club. Tony Swift scored in the eighteenth minute, with an inside side-step which was a feature of his play. The ubiquitous Simpson scored in the 48th minute and Stanley scored with a blind side break seven minutes later. Again, Stanley touched down after a tremendous back-row surge, and three minutes later, Chris Martin went in.
“The rout continued with a 75th minute touchdown for Simpson and the seventh and most enthralling score straight from the kick-off. Nigel Redman gathered, fed Stanley on the 22 and Martin came into the line to put Swift away.
The full-back supported inside and galloping into the Richmond half, found Kevin Withey who capped an excellent game on the open-side flank by racing the final 40 metres.” (Kevin Coughlan, Bristol Evening Post)
v Bristol, Away, Won 10-3. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, K Withey, N Maslen, P Simpson. Mark Jones, Kevin Withey and “Super Sub” Nick Maslen, came in for Redman, Spurrell and Egerton
Ref – C High (MANCHESTER)
Replacements – J Guscott and C Lilley. Lilley replaced Chilcott in the 20th minute. The pack played particularly well, and two Barnes penalties with Tony Swift’s try were enough to stifle Bristol’s aspirations. A crowd of around 6000 witnessed Bath’s seventh successive win over Bristol, and it was a fair reflection of the Clubs’ contrasting fortunes at that time. Bath always maintained that extra competitive edge, which had been lacking at Bristol for some months. Halliday and Martin had great games with some enterprising running from deep positions. Bath’s confidence shone through and they were obviously in very good shape for their Semi-Final appointment at Welford Road.
v Vale of Lune, Home, Won 16-4. A Janes, P Simmons (Capt), C Book, I Abbott, M Sparkes, P Cue, S Knight, C Folland, J Deane, M Piccirillo, L Lark, D Cronin, A Burr, A Robinson, R Lye. It was Andy Robinson’s first game. The Loughborough Colleges skipper was a bundle of energy and his performance promised much for the future. Unfortunately, he had already played in the early stages of the J.P. Cup for Loughborough, and could not be considered as back-up for that season’s competition. Replacements – S Carter & N Riou
The visitors threatened with an early opportunist try, but Bath replied with two tries within three minutes before the interval. Simmon’s strong run led to a try by hooker Jimmy Deane, with Martin Sparkes getting the second. Next, Ian Abbott intercepted a wayward pass and Deane scored his second try of the afternoon. Andy Janes converted two.
v Leicester, Away, Won 10-6. John Player Special Cup – Semi Final. Team:-C Martin, A Swift, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee,J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, P Simpson, D Egerton. Referee – R Quittenton (LONDON). Replacements – C Stanley, G Bess, K Withey, J Guscott, M Jones & C Lilley
A Cup Semi Final win at Welford Road, with a superb exhibition of pressure rugby. The Bath pack was on top form, and the whole finely tuned operation organised and controlled by skipper, Palmer. Chilcott and Redman were outstanding in the scrum, whilst Graham Dawe had a good game, despite two lost against the head. He was accurate with his throw-in, enabling Redman, Morrison and Egerton to dominate the line-out. Chilcott tidied up, either to thrust forward himself, or feed off to Simpson, Egerton, Lee or Spurrell, who were ‘champing at the bit’ to surge forward in the highest order of support play. Behind the pack, Richard Hill was constantly at their heels. Stuart Barnes took Hill’s flat passes at speed to threaten the Leicester line. It was Barnes’s quick dash and pass, which created just enough space for Halliday to cut through midfield and speed for the Leicester line. He was temporarily held up, but practically the Bath whole team, including full-back Martin, raced up to heave him over the try line. Bath continued to dominate in the second half and were awarded a penalty as the Tigers killed the ball. Dusty Hare’s injury time penalty was to no avail. Leicester suffered their first home Cup defeat in 17 matches. Stuart Barnes kicked the two penalties. Paul Simpson ‘played a blinder,’ and was a worthy ‘Man of the Match.’
Bath had booked their place at Twickenham and tickets were on sale within very few days.
v Clifton, Away, Drawn 3-3. A Janes, D Trick, J Guscott, I Abbott, P Simmons, P Cue (1pg), C Stanley, C Lilley, G Bess, C Folland, M Jones, D Cronin, A Burr, J Hall, N Maslen Replacements – C Book & N Piccirillo – Piccirillo replaced Burr
v Newport, Home, Won 24-18. C Martin, A Swift, J Palmer, S Halliday, B Trevaskis, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, M Jones, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Janes & N Maslen – Janes replaced Trevaskis & Maslen replaced Spurrell
Bath faced stern opposition on the run-in to the Final. The ‘hard edge’ was very much in evidence as tries materialised from Swift, Palmer and Hill (2), with Barnes converting one and landing a penalty.
v Llanelli, Home, Won 19-10. C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, P Cue, C Stanley, C Lilley, G Dawe, R Lee, D Cronin, M Jones, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson. Replacements – A Janes & B Kenny – Janes replaced Palmer
David Trick’s explosive pace produced two magnificent tries, which must have gone a long way towards ensuring a place in the Cup Final selection. As a rule of thumb, Trick’s form could be generally be assessed by his confidence to take on the outside break against his opposing winger. His first try answered any wavering support in grand fashion. Fed from a line-out, Trick swerved past four defenders and outran Martin Gravelle, to touch down near the posts. His second effort came two minutes from time, when Spurrell picked up a loose ball, and passed out to Trick, who appeared to be covered. With little space to manoeuvre, he was able to race over from 25 yards out, with no hand laid upon him. It was David Trick in his finest form. Damian Cronin and Mark Jones performed creditably in the line out, and did much to subdue Llanelli skipper, Phil May. The game was fiery at times, and on one occasion Spurrell and Buchanan were involved in some damaging off-the ball fisticuffs. Then Palmer converted from a Simon Halliday try. Cue provided one conversion, then dropped a goal in the 54th minute. This chalked up Bath’s 1000 points for the season
v Wasps, Won 25-17. John Player Special Cup – Final.
Team:-C Martin, D Trick, J Palmer, S Halliday, A Swift, S Barnes, R Hill, G Chilcott, G Dawe, R Lee, J Morrison, N Redman, R Spurrell, J Hall, P Simpson .
Referee – Fred Howard (Manchester) Replacements – C Stanley, P Cue, B Trevaskis, G Bess, C Lilley, D Egerton
Some criticised Bath for playing, typically no risk – nine man rugby to win this Final. Nevertheless they scored 4 tries, 3 conversions and a penalty to Wasps 3 tries, 1 conversion and a penalty. Bath defended their tactics, responding that winning was what Cup rugby was all about.
Independent observers could only marvel at the tenacity with which Bath worked away at the 13 point advantage gained by Wasps within the first 25 minutes. Certainly, there was agreement that no other Club could have recovered from being 0-13 down in a Twickenham Final.
Bath tries by Swift, Hill, Spurrell and Simpson, with three conversions and a penalty by Trick.
Wasps tries by Stringer, Pellow and Balcombe. Stringer converted one and kicked a penalty.
John Morrison was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’ for an outstanding performance in his first Twickenham Final.
Despite the loss, Cardus is on record as having ‘enjoyed’ the encounter: “We lost but finished happy because we enjoyed playing our sort of game and scored three tries.” (Daily Mail)
To Bath – winning was everything!
v Gloucester, Home, Won 22-9. C Martin, D Trick, J Guscott, S Halliday, A Swift, P Cue, C Stanley, G Chilcott, G Dawe, C Folland, N Maslen, D Cronin, R Spurrell, K Withey, P Simpson. Replacements – B Trevaskis & C Lilley. Referee – Colin High (MANCHESTER)
Tries by Guscott. Swift (2), and Spurrell, and two penalties by Trick.
Despite both Clubs fielding weakened sides, it was a fitting end to an outstanding season.
Anything less than a final Bath win in front of their ecstatic home support, would have somehow – looked quite inappropriate.
FOR THE RECORD
John Player Cup Winners, Bath topped both the English-Welsh and English Merit tables.
Top scorers:- Stuart Barnes 5 Tries, 54 Conversions, 33 Penalties and 3 Drop Goals – 236 points,
John Palmer 74, David Trick 73, Tony Swift 72, Barry Trevaskis 60, Chris Stanley 56, Jeremy Guscott 53, David Egerton 52. Top try scorer was Tony Swift with 18.