1994 to 1995

by Peter Hall and Colin Gale



Included are match summaries in honour of Mrs Joan Budge who rendered invaluable assistance to Ken Johnstone, the Bath Club Press and Public Relations Officer. She kept the match statistics and provided short, pithy comments on each match – the Press men depended on her.


v Barbarians, Home. Won 23-18. Team:- Callard (1c & 2p), Swift, Lumsden, de Glanville, Adebayo, Catt, Sanders, Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu (T), Redman, Reed, Robinson, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Johnson, Beddow, Clark, Peters, Rayner, Geoghegan (Tx2) replaced Swift  Ref – J Wallis. Ground – Grassy, ridged. Weather – Drizzly and overcast

This was a sort-of opening of the new stand, sort-of 100 years on the Rec. celebration, sort of 100 years since we last played the Barbarians and a sort-of start to the season. It was a bit of a sort-of game too. Bath looked a little rusty in trying to come to terms with all the changes this season. Geoghegan is a crowd pleaser and scored two good tries. We look forward to his being eligible in October. Surprisingly not a full house. Notable for the number of replacements brought on by Barbarians including two Bath players – Rayner and Yates!

Kevin Coughlan match report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH let Simon Geoghegan off the leash for just 40 minutes but it was long enough for the dashing Irish wing to collect two tries on his debut. Registration rules mean he is now under wraps until October 8 when Wasps visit the Recreation Ground. So while the rest of the Bath first team open the league programme against bitter rivals Bristol on Saturday, Geoghegan will be over at the Memorial Ground with the United. If there was any lingering doubt that 25-year-old Geoghegan was guaranteed a first team place when available, there is none now. But Tony Swift’s half-time `substitution’ should not be taken as a hint that his right wing place is necessarily under threat. The 34-year-old ace poacher looked as sharp as ever. The Bath fans have already struck up a rapport with Geoghegan and the newcomer’s first try on the hour, scrambling over after he had been half-held, was greeted rapturously.

Five minutes from the end, a clever flick from Audley Lumsden and Jon Callard’s well-placed pass again allowed the blond newcomer the merest glimpse of the corner that he needed. Ten minutes after the final whistle Geoghegan was still on the pitch meeting well-wishers. “I always enjoy playing for the Barbarians so it was good to play against them for a change,” he said. “First game is always difficult but if you get a couple of passes like that it makes it all worthwhile.” Geoghegan’s scores sealed victory after England prop Victor Ubogu had bullocked over the line in the 50th minute.

But a lively Barbarians line-up, surprising Bath with the ferocity of their tackling, had subdued the champions for long periods. And early in the second half Bristol’s Paul Hull, forsaking his England position of full-back for fly-half, broke beautifully on the blindside of a scrum to create the first of two tries for Scottish centre Graham Shiel. Allowing for the inevitable early-season rustiness – Ben Clarke had a distinctly forgettable game – there were question marks over Bath in several areas, which new coach Brian Ashton will work on in training tonight.

Scrummaging was not up to par and, outside the 22 at least, Bath’s defensive organisation was sometimes found wanting. The new half-backs, Mike Catt and Ian Sanders, also began nervously. Yet there were still glorious glimpses of Bath at their dynamic best as in the first half when a miss-pass by Catt and Lumsden’s link but Swift clear through the middle. Will-power and organisation shifted the balance of power in the second half to provide a fitting scoreline to celebrate the centenary of rugby on the Rec.


BATH FORM: rusty

SCORERS: 8 mins – Joubert pen, nil-3; 18 mins – Callard pen, 3-3; 23 mins – Callard pen, 6-3; 32 mins – Joubert pen, 6-6; 44 mins – Shiel try, Joubert conv, 6-13; 50 mins – Ubogu try, Callard conv, 13-13; 59 mins – Geoghegan try, 18-13; 75 mins – Geoghegan try, 23-18; 78 mins – Shiel try, 23-18.


BATH: Callard; Swift (rep Geoghegan, 40 mins), Lumsden, de Glanville, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Redman, Reed, Robinson, Clarke, Hall (rep Peters, 76 mins).


BARBARIANS: Joubert (Natal, SA – rep Rayner (Bath) 66 mins); Manley (Pontypridd – rep Bracken (Bristol, Eng), 57 mins), Shiel (Melrose), Beal (Northampton), Dods (Gala, Sco); Hull (Bristol), Gomersall (Wasps); Lippert (San Diego, USA – rep Yates (Bath) 61 mins), Cockerill (Leicester), Clohessy (Young Munster, Ire), Poole (Leicester), Tregaskis (Wellington, NZ), Charron (Ottawa Irish, Can), Wainwright (W Hartlepool), Back (Leicester).

REFEREE: Jerry Wallis (Somerset Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – showery, dull; pitch – lush



v Bristol, Home. Won 18-9. Team:- Callard (1c & 2p), Swift, Lumsden (T), de Glanville, Adebayo, Catt, Sanders, Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Redman, Reed, Robinson, Hall, Clarke. Replacements – Olsen, Beddow replaced Dawe for 5 mins, Mallett  Ref – B Campsell. Ground – Good. Weather – Showery

Bath awarded a penalty try.

A fairly typical Bath/Bristol encounter with Bath finally coming out on top due to superior back play and a bit more invention. Not a wildly exciting performance, though. The Bristol pack played well. Campsall a good but very strict referee – lots of whistle. This was the first League game to be televised by Sky.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

DAVE Hilton wore a smile of intense satisfaction deep into the night after another accomplished streetwise derby performance from the greatest club side in English rugby history.

No-one at the Rec, not even men like John Hall and Graham Dawe who have been through it all a dozen times or more, takes victory over Bristol for granted.

But Hilton, the former Bristol loosehead prop who still lives and works in the city, felt this latest success more keenly than any of his colleagues – and with good reason.

Recalled to the side to shore up a flagging front row after the two hidings dished out by Bristol’s forwards back in January, he performed well enough to hold his place as Bath closed in on the double.

What he really wanted, however, was to put one over on his home club. And after 64 minutes of a typically hard and even contest, he did just that.

No-one expected Bath, scrummaged into oblivion by Bristol’s tight five last season, to effectively win this one with an attempted pushover. But then, Bath are masters of the unexpected.

Skipper Hall called an “eight-man” at a five-metre scrum, Hilton poured the heat on as Andy Blackmore lost his footing in the Bristol engine room and, as Ben Clarke prepared to complete the score, Kyran Bracken conceded a penalty try in a desperate effort to prevent the inevitable.

“We had worked so hard on our scrummaging during the week,” said Hilton. “It was serious stuff.

“Robbo (Bath flanker Andy Robinson) said to us tight forwards: `You know what happened last time. If you’re not going to scrummage, we might as well give Bristol the two points now’.

“The position was right for a pushover. We have two different eight-man calls but I won’t say any more than that because it’s a trade secret.”

To their credit, Bristol dragged themselves back into range immediately with a third Mark Tainton penalty.

But the champions, full of confidence now, cut loose eight minutes from time to rubber-stamp their victory.

Mike Catt injected the pace, Tony Swift supplied the brains and Audley Lumsden claimed the touchdown after a bizarre tussle for possession with teammate Adedayo Adebayo.

It was tough on Bristol whose line-out was line-out forwards were again in majestic form.

They competed well in the loose too, with Ian Patten playing a blinder at No 8 and Rob Armstrong tackling and driving like a man possessed.

Unusually, they created more clear-cut opportunities than their lauded opponents.

But the familiar mix of wrong options, poor final passes and a lack of imagination in midfield proved fatal.

To make things worse, they found Robinson in staggering defensive form.

He pilfered the ball from both Armstrong and Mark Regan when tries looked on and caught Paul Hull five metres from the line with the most desperate of tackles.

“They won’t beat us in a million years,” grinned Robinson afterwards.

Bristol supporters must have an uneasy feeling that he wasn’t joking.


BATH FORM: effective. BRISTOL FORM: wasteful.

SCORERS: 8 mins – Callard pen, 3-nil; 26 mins – Tainton pen, 3-3; 47 mins – Callard pen, 6-3; 55 mins – Tainton pen, 6-6; 64 mins – penalty try, Callard conv, 13-6; 66 mins – Tainton, 13-9; 72 mins – Lumsden try, 18-9.

BATH: Callard; Swift, Lumsden, de Glanville, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Redman, Reed, Robinson, Clarke, Hall.

BRISTOL: Hull; John, Denney, Wring, Sharpe; Tainton, Bracken; Sharp, Regan, Hinkins, Shaw, Blackmore, Armstrong, Patten, Eves.

REFEREE: Brian Campsall (Yorkshire Soc).

CONDITIONS: pitch – good; weather – bright after heavy showers.



v Northampton, Away. Won 32-16. Team:- Callard (1c & 5p), Swift (Tx2), de Glanville, Lumsden, Adebayo (T), Catt, Sanders, Hilton, Dawe, Mallett, Reed, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Beddow replaced Hall in second half, Olsen, Crompton  Ref – S Lander. Ground – Excellent. Weather – Fine

A much better game for Bath than last week. Callard had an excellent match despite a bad knee. Hall went off at half time with a sprung rib. The backs were terrific – particularly Catt and Swift. Still not getting much from the line-out. Northampton disappointing.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH coach Brian Ashton may have an embarrassment of riches on the wings but he is eternally grateful to Tony Swift for postponing his retirement for another year.

Two more tries in this impressive team performance brought his career total to 369 – 153 of them for the champions.

It is a decade since Swift played for England but Ashton still regards him as “the best striking winger within 20 metres of the line in the country.”

Certainly, England’s Ian Hunter must still be wondering how the wily 35-year-old squeezed past him to score in the corner on the stroke of half-time.

It was not so much searing speed as Swift’s ability to mesmerise an opponent with a subtle change of pace and direction.

“One-on-one you’ve always got to back Swifty,” said Ashton. “I know he was delighted to beat an England full-back but he’s looking very sharp this season.

“He’s got the knack of peaking for Saturdays – at 35 you have to.

“We are quite happy, provided he does the technical work with us, that he just turns up and plays like that every Saturday afternoon.”

Bath still have Ireland wing Simon Geoghegan to come into the side as well as the promising Jon Sleightholme.

The pressure appears not to be on the veteran Swift, rather on 23-year-old Adedayo Adebayo, who toured South Africa with England during the summer.

But he responded with Bath’s first try, a typically slick effort, after Jon Callard had answered an early try and conversion from Saints playmaker Paul Grayson, with three penalties.

The champions never really looked back after that.

Lions lock Martin Bayfield was a handful in the line-out but gradually Bath sorted out that area of their game, employing a number of variations through Nigel Redman, Andy Reed, Ben Clarke, John Hall and Steve Ojomoh.

Skipper Hall was forced off with a rib injury just before half-time but there was no let-up in the forward effort.

Even with England’s Tim Rodber offering a muscular presence in the loose, the Saints’ pack began to wilt.

Bath continued the improvement in their scrummaging seen against Bristol and pre-match pep talk on the virtues of driving forward play also paid dividends.

The in-form Callard duly kicked five penalties, all given against Northampton for trying to kill ruckball, including one monster effort from six metres inside his own half.

That’s not to say, however, that the backs played a back-seat role. Far from it.

Prompted by Mike Catt, who is rapidly growing in stature at fly-half, the midfield attacked intelligently and aggressively.

On the other hand, Northampton’s chief tactic was to boot the ball downwind to the corners but all that yielded was a couple of second-half penalties for Grayson.

Having been on the back foot for 15 minutes, Bath suddenly broke out with deadly purpose through Ian Sanders, Catt and Adebayo. And after winning a ruck on the home 22, Sanders, Ojomoh and Reed put Swift away for his second try.


BATH FORM: classy

SCORERS: 14 mins – Grayson try & conv, 7-nil; 19 mins – Callard pen, 7-3; 22 mins – Callard pen, 7-6; 26 mins – Callard pen, 7-9; 28 mins – Adebayo try, Callard conv, 7-16; 35 mins – Grayson pen, 10-16; 41 mins – Swift try, 10-21 (H-T); 46 mins – Callard pen, 10-24; 50 mins – Callard pen, 10-27; 66 mins – Grayson pen, 13-27; 70 mins – Grayson pen, 16-27; 74 mins – Swift try, 16-32.

NORTHAMPTON: Hunter; Moir, Packman, MacNaughton, Thorneycroft; Grayson, Taylor; Volland, Roworth, Allen, Bayfield, Edwards, Walton, Rodber, Pountney.

BATH: Callard; Swift, Lumsden, de Glanville, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Dawe, Mallett, Redman, Reed, Hall (rep Beddow, 40 mins), Clarke, Ojomoh.

REFEREE: Steve Lander (Liverpool Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast, breezy; pitch – perfect.



v Orrell, Home. Won 32-13. Team:- Long, Swift, de Glanville (T) (Capt), Lumsden, Sleightholme (T), Catt (3c & 2p), Sanders, Hilton, Adams (T), Mallett, Haag, Reed, Robinson, Ojomoh, Clarke (T).  Replacements – Olsen, Beddow, Clark   Ref – C Thomas. Ground – Good. Weather – Overcast

This was a much more exciting and vibrant game than the previous two league games. Catt again was outstanding and there was a lot of urgency. Interesting to see the ‘new boys’ – Sleightholme looks fast and Adams had a good game in his first senior game as hooker. Orrell contributed well to the enjoyable game – a fitting game to mark the opening of the boxes in the Teacher’s stand.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

IT took England Under 21 wing Jon Sleightholme just three minutes of his Bath first-team debut to show why he is so highly rated.

Mike Catt’s superb blindside break was anticipated perfectly by the young Yorkshireman who never looked like being overhauled on his way to the try-line.

The champions now have a top-class quartet vying for the two wing positions – the ageless Tony Swift, England tourist Adedayo Adebayo, Irish international Simon Geoghegan and Sleightholme.

With four games played this season, each is now off the mark and pressing to be included for the big clash with Wasps on October 8.

The smart money is on a Swift-Geoghegan pairing but Sleightholme is prepared to bide his time anyway.

“Everybody’s fighting for places – and not just on the wings,” said the Bath University student, who joined from Second Division Wakefield during the summer.

“My first aim this season was to get a league game. I’ve achieved that earlier than I expected – with a try too,” added Sleightholme, surprised but delighted with his debut.

“There’s a lot of competition for wing places but that’s what I wanted. It will bring out the best in me.”

Bath took a calculated gamble by naming what must have been one of the youngest sides they have ever fielded in a Courage League fixture, average age 25.

Catt, well served by half-back partner Ian Sanders, had a dream first half, also kicking two conversions as well as penalties from 30 and 45 metres in a difficult wind.

It helped Bath into a 25-8 lead at the interval, a sparkling first-half performance which was only marred by the defensive lapse that let Orrell centre Ian Wynn in for a try in the corner.

Bath responded with surges by Martin Haag and Ben Clarke which provided a close-range try by Gareth Adams, performing creditably at hooker rather than in his customary position of flanker.

Another Clarke drive, from an inside switch by Catt, was then carried on by Andy Robinson, Adams and Audley Lumsden whose overhead pass put skipper Phil de Glanville over.

But, as coach Brian Ashton observed, inexperience and over-elaboration led to the team “losing its way” in a disjointed second half.

Most of the third quarter seemed to be spent resetting wheeled scrummages and it was after the hour mark before No 8 Clarke brought the game back to life.

Andy Reed collected a long line-out throw and set up a ruck on the 22, allowing Sanders to pop up a devastating short pass to Clarke who steamed through to the line.

Catt converted to make the score 30-8 but the strong-running Wynn again punished a lapse in concentration to score his second try.


BATH FORM: erratic

SCORERS: 3 mins – Sleightholme try, Catt conv, 7-nil; 6 mins – Catt pen, 10-nil; 14 mins – Winstanley pen, 10-3; 15 mins – Wynn try, 10-8; 23 mins – Catt pen, 13-8; 30 mins – Adams try, Catt conv, 20-8; 38 mins – de Glanville try, 25-8 (H-T); 64 mins – Clarke try, Catt conv, 32-8; 77 mins – Wynn try, 32-13.

BATH: Long; Swift, Lumsden, de Glanville, Sleightholme; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Reed, Ojomoh, Clarke, Robinson.

ORRELL: Langford; Naylor, Wynn, Johnson, Healey; Ainscough, Morris; Winstanley, Redmond, Cundick, Brierley, Cooper, Parr, Bibby, Manley.

REFEREE: Ceri Thomas (Welsh RFU).

CONDITIONS: weather – cloudy, breezy; pitch – well-grassed.



v Gloucester, Away. Won 15-10. Team:- Lumsden, Swift, de Glanville (Capt), Rayner, Sleightholme, Catt (1c & 1p), Sanders (T), Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Reed, Robinson (T), Ojomoh, Clarke.  Replacements – Johnson, Adams, Crompton   Ref – E Morrison. Ground – Perfect. Weather – Fine

A fairly typical Kingsholm encounter – abrasive and fiery. No love lost in the pack, where Dawe, Robinson and Haag were outstanding (nice to get some lineout ball!). Rayner and Sleightholme continue to impress, but Audley seems not a happy man.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH have high hopes that Oxford Blue Ed Rayner will call off his move to Courage League title rivals Leicester.

Rayner, whose appearance at centre against Gloucester was only his second league outing for Bath, signed for the Tigers during the summer because he planned to be an RAF pilot.

He explained: “Signing for Leicester was contingent on me going into the RAF in Lincolnshire, which would be too far to travel from Bath.

“But I’m in the process of trying to transfer to the Army Air Corps.

“The Army have said they will sponsor me for Sandhurst Military College as long as I pass a series of tests, including three weeks flying.”

Although not a first-team regular, Rayner from Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, is potentially a very important man to Bath coach Brian Ashton.

“We really have no other cover for Mike Catt at fly-half other than Ed,” admitted Ashton, who paired him in the centre with Phil de Glanville for Saturday’s derby.

As the season progresses, England commitments may restrict Catt’s availability, especially in the build-up to the World Cup.

Ashton was satisfied with 23-year-old Rayner’s showing, although Bath again blew hot and cold in clocking up their 15th consecutive league victory, the fourth this season.

The only scoring in the first half was a penalty from Catt who had hit the post with his first effort and went on to miss another five as his technique let him down.

It was only when Gloucester full-back Mark Mapletoft levelled the scores ten minutes into the second half that Bath roused themselves to play with pace and panache.

Locks Martin Haag and Andy Reed formed an impromptu back line and when the move was halted at the corner, flanker Andy Robinson was forced over for the try.

It was richly deserved. Robinson’s energy, awareness and commitment represented the one consistent feature in the Bath performance.

Within four minutes Bath had added a second after launching flanker Steve Ojomoh off the back of a scrum. Reed and Haag were again up in support to put scrum-half Ian Sanders over.

Catt’s conversion gave the champions a 15-3 lead but Gloucester were encouraged by the league leaders’ tendency to sit back.

Some of the commitment was ill-directed. Pete Jones received a lecture from referee Ed Morrison who reversed a penalty after the prop flattened Graham Dawe.

But with six minutes left, the darting Mapletoft slid through a kick which bounced up invitingly for Tim Smith to score in the corner.

Mapletoft’s conversion raised the voices and hopes of 9,000 Gloucester fans but Haag and Reed won a series of crucial line-outs and Bath had done just enough.


BATH FORM: adequate

SCORERS: 8 mins – Catt pen, nil-3; 50 mins – Mapletoft pen, 3-3; 55 mins – Robinson try, 3-8; 59 mins – Sanders try, Catt conv, 3-15; 74 mins – T Smith try, Mapletoft conv, 10-15.

GLOUCESTER: Mapletoft; Holford, Morris, Maslen, T Smith; Kimber, Fenley; Jones, Hawker, Deacon, Sims, West, Glanville (rep Ashmead, 60 mins), Raymond, I Smith.

BATH: Lumsden; Swift, de Glanville, Rayner, Sleightholme; Catt, Sanders; Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Reed, Robinson, Clarke, Ojomoh.

REFEREE: Ed Morrison (Bristol).

CONDITIONS: weather – fine; pitch – excellent.



v Wasps, Home. Won 12-9. Team:- Callard (4p), Swift, de Glanville, Rayner, Adebayo, Catt, Sanders, Hilton, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Olsen, Beddow, Clark replaced Mallett   Ref – E Murray. Ground – Good. Weather – Perfect

A fast and furious encounter, with Wasps playing their new expansive game. Great mid-field tackling by both sides. Amazing that such an exciting game should not include any tries. Robinson and Callard outstanding. Ref. A bit suspect. Norm Hadley should have been sent off. But still an exhilarating contest.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

WASPS came to Bath preaching the gospel of all-action 15-man rugby but were taught a lesson in the more basic art of winning matches.

Neither concept is foreign to the champions. It’s just that winning comes before all else.

It’s no secret that Bath are currently as vulnerable as at any time in the last ten years, although the window of opportunity for their rivals is strictly limited.

When Jeremy Guscott and Simon Geoghegan are added to their back line, they will again wield a fearsome cutting edge.

For the moment, however, they are prepared to scrap for every ball, defend with fanatical purpose and rely on the boot of Jon Callard for points if the tries don’t come.

So four sweetly-struck penalties were enough for a record 16th consecutive league victory – although Rob Andrew might have earned a draw for Wasps in an utterly compelling contest.

But his 45-metre kick after 74 minutes slid just wide of the posts and Bath hung on to their three-point lead in frantic finale as Wasps threw everything at them.

John Hall, who had made a rapid recovery from a rib injury to lead Bath, admitted: “They don’t come any harder than that.

“Yes, it was a below-par performance but come back to me in five or six months time and see what the score is then.

“When we have to dog it out, we dog it out. We got the result we wanted, if not in the style we wanted.”

Rob Andrew and Callard swapped penalties early on but the most prominent figure was Wasps’ Canadian lock, Norman Hadley, and not just because he stands 6ft 7in and weighs in at nearly 20 stones.

After stormin’ through the midfield with tacklers hanging off him, he undid the good work by booting an opponent in a ruck. Since a kickable penalty given against Bath for offside was then reversed, Hadley had probably cost his side three points.

A couple of minutes later, he planted a left cross on Nigel Redman’s jaw following a line-out.

Scottish referee Eddie Murray was following play across field at the time but international official Ed Morrison had a grandstand view from the touchline. Hadley escaped with a severe warning but Callard kicked the goal.

Mike Catt’s impressive touch-finding – 60 metres at a time – had blunted Wasps’ attacking ambitions and they were also undone by his steepling Garryowen, superbly caught by Phil de Glanville.

When prop Darren Molloy lunged offside at the ruck, Callard put Bath 9-3 ahead with 28 minutes gone.

Just before the interval, the loosehead clumsily booted a ball through at a ruck at the other end of the field when the Londoners were looking particularly threatening.

Callard made it 12-3 soon after half-time but Wasps immediately threatened in the right corner. Steve Pilgrim’s pass went astray however and then Jeff Probyn dropped the scrum, allowing Bath to clear from the penalty.

After 52 minutes, the home side conjured – and wasted – their best chance. It began in unorthodox fashion with Tony Swift taking a pass from the base of a scrum, bursting through and being supported by the back row.

But when the attack was switched left into the open spaces, a couple of poor passes in the centre let Wasps off the hook.

The Londoners enjoyed the upper hand for the last quarter, encouraged by two more Andrew penalties, but their fast and furious approach lacked precision.


BATH FORM: dogged

SCORERS: 5 mins – Andrew pen, nil-3; 9 mins – Callard pen, 3-3; 21 mins – Callard pen, 6-3; 28 mins – Callard pen, 9-3 (H-T); 43 mins – Callard pen, 12-3; 60 mins – Andrew pen, 12-6; 70 mins – Andrew pen, 12-9.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Rayner, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Dawe, Mallett (rep Clark, 54 mins), Haag, Redman, Robinson, Clarke, Hall.

WASPS: Ufton; Pilgrim, Childs, Thompson, Hunter; Andrew, Bates; Molloy, Dunn, Probyn, Greenwood, Hadley, Ryan, Dallaglio, Wilkins.

REFEREE: Eddie Murray (Scottish RFU).

CONDITIONS: weather – sunny, warm; pitch – well-grassed.



v West Hartlepool, Away. Won 20-18. Team:- Callard (2c & 1p), Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo, Catt (1dg), Johnson, Hilton, Dawe, Clark, Reed, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall (Tx2), Clarke.  Replacements – Sanders, Adams, Crompton  Ref – D Leslie. Ground – Good. Weather – Cold & drizzly

All the world and his wife came to this game to see the return of Jeremy Guscott for his first game in just about a year. He got through safely, if unspectacularly. The team, however, were abysmal. Just about the worst display seen for ages and West Hartlepool deserved a win. They looked as though they wanted to win – Bath didn’t. The tackling was poor and seemed to be playing at half pace. My word, we’ll have to do better against Leicester next week! This was Graham Dawe’s 200th game for the first XV.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH players will sit down before training tonight for a withering session of self-analysis and criticism.

It’s the traditional response to those ever-so-rare defeats that have punctuated a decade of dominance in English rugby.

From the mood in the dressing room nobody would have guessed that they had actually beaten West Hartlepool.

“Just how badly do we have to play to lose?” asked wing Tony Swift as they sat in the bath afterwards.

To a man the Bath players conceded that the better team had lost, which is an almost unheard-of admission from the five-times league champions.

“We pressed the self-destruct button again, just like we did at Moseley and Waterloo,” declared lock Nigel Redman. “Only this time we got away with it.”

They would not have done if home fly-half John Stabler had kicked a straightforward 28-metre penalty in injury time. But the ball faded in the breeze and Bath were off the hook.

The only justice was that they no longer lead the First Division, having lost top spot on points difference to Leicester, next Saturday’s visitors to the Recreation Ground.

Skipper John Hall, shocked and angry at his side’s failure even to make their tackles, found no consolation in the fact that he scored both tries.

“At times it was a shambles – there was a lack of commitment tackling-wise,” said the blindside flanker. “Games like that we should really take by the scruff of the neck.

“But playing Leicester will help to focus the minds. We will pick what we think is our best side and tune in for the rest of the week.”

The topics dominating tonight’s `honesty session’ will be tackling and touch-kicking, areas pinpointed by coach Brian Ashton, who was as frustrated as anyone else by the team’s half-hearted display.

But West Hartlepool are no mugs, as Wasps found to their cost a month ago.

The back row were outstanding, particularly No 8 Mick Watson. The hard-running Army captain was simply too hot for Bath to handle and scored what could be the try of the season.

Incredibly, it began with Ben Clarke losing the ball as he attempted to touch down for a try. West worked the ball from the line and suddenly were streaming away up the right.

Veteran wing David Cooke fed skipper Paul Hodder who then found Watson on his elbow and even Steve Ojomoh could not catch him.

That put the home team 8-nil ahead but failure to clear their lines led to Hall’s first try after 27 minutes, memorable for a slick pass from Jeremy Guscott and clever work by Swift on the touchline.

Jon Callard converted but missed an absolute sitter on the stroke of half-time.

In fact they ahead within two minutes of the restart, taking advantage of an alleged knock-on by right wing Kevin Whitaker which only referee David Leslie detected. Mike Catt fed the ball back to his forwards from the scrum and Hall was forced over.

Cooke immediately squeezed in at the other end, courtesy of sloppy defensive work, but Catt replied with a dropped goal and Callard added a penalty.

Hodder crashed over for his side’s third try as Bath wilted but the conversion was missed and three other kicks went astray in the last ten minutes.


BATH FORM: fragile

SCORERS: 7 mins – Stimpson pen, 3-nil; 16 mins – Watson try, 8-nil; 27 mins – Hall try, Callard conv, 8-7; H-T – 8-7; 42 mins – Hall try, Callard conv, 8-14; 46 mins – Cooke try, 13-14; 50 mins – Catt dropped goal, 13-17; 62 mins – Callard pen, 13-20; 64 mins – Hodder try, 18-20.

WEST HARTLEPOOL: Stimpson; Whitaker, Elwine, Hodder, Cooke; Stabler, Cook; Rusby, S Mitchell, Shelley, Dixon, Westgarth, D Mitchell, Watson, Brown.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo; Catt, Johnson; Hilton, Dawe, Clark, Redman, Reed, Ojomoh, Clarke, Hall.

REFEREE: David Leslie (Manchester Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – cold, blustery; pitch – good



v Leicester, Home. Drawn 20-20. Team:- Callard (2c & 2p), Swift (T), de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo, Catt (T), Sanders, Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Reed, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Johnson, Beddow replaced Robinson (69 mins), Clark   Ref – J Pearson. Ground – Good. Weather – Showery & blustery

This was a top of the table clash we had all been waiting for, particularly as it was Guscott’s first fame on the Rec since last year. In the event, it was a cliff hanger and could have gone either way. So a draw was a fair result. Hall, Robinson, Reed had good games (Robinson went off with rib injury which may take a bit of time), and particularly de Glanville in the centre.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

THE very fact that this result did not come as a huge shock is the clearest sign of how unsettled life is at Bath these days.

Who can remember the five-times league champions ever squandering an eight point lead at the Rec?

Leicester were the last side to beat Bath in the league, a year and 18 matches ago. But becoming the first to steal a league point at the Rec since 1991 may be more significant.

It suggests that Dean Richards’s Tigers could well become the first team in five years to wrest the Courage League title away from its adopted West Country home.

For Bath, it all points to a painful rebuilding process, although they are still unbeaten and only trail the Tigers on points difference.

Anyway, both clubs acknowledge that their destinies could well rest on the makeup of the England team and the requirement to rest key players in league games preceding internationals.

Bath will be hoping that Bristol can do them a favour by toppling Leicester at the Memorial Ground on Saturday week.

But it’s a two-edged sword and they are well aware that a trip to Sale the same day without their stars is fraught with danger.

Interestingly, Bath captain John Hall does not rate Leicester their most difficult opponents this season. That accolade belongs to Wasps, beaten 12-9 at the Rec earlier this month.

“I would say the Wasps game was harder in that they were a more dangerous side to play against,” said Hall. “They exposed us more than Leicester did.

“What we did was give away penalties, which they kicked. That’s not taking anything away from a very good try near the end, but we put ourselves under pressure.”

Hall added: “We should have had two points after leading 17-9 but there were lapses in concentration. You can’t afford to do that and the boys know it.”

Jez Harris’s accurate boot did the damage, chipping away at the lead before Leicester worked emergency wing Jamie Hamilton over in the right corner ten minutes from time.

The conversion attempt was Harris’s only missed kick of the game.

Ironically Hamilton, named on the bench as reserve scrum-half, was only playing because Tony Underwood spent nearly five hours on the road from London and missed the kick-off.

That crucial score came about when Bath flanker Andy Robinson was forced off with a rib injury. Leicester immediately threw to the tail of the line-out, won the ruck and scored the try.

The visiting pack shaded the forward contest, Richards and Martin Johnson cutting impressive figures in a powerful collective effort.

But there was little to fear behind the scrum and the Bath midfield, with Jeremy Guscott looking increasingly assured, was in a different class.

The first try, in the 23rd minute, was a typically slick affair involving Adedayo Adebayo on a diagonal burst and Guscott appearing as link for the scorer, Tony Swift.

Immediately after the interval, Bath upped the tempo to add a second after Hall won the ball off a Leicester throw-in.

Mike Catt had had another in-and-out game at fly-half but that was all forgotten as he burned a hole through the Tigers’ defence to score under the posts.


BATH FORM: vulnerable

SCORERS: 5 mins – Callard pen, 3-nil; 7 mins – Harris pen, 3-3; 9 mins – Harris pen, 3-6; 23 mins – Swift try, Callard conv, 10-6; 28 mins – Harris pen, 10-9 (H-T); 42 mins – Catt try, Callard conv, 17-9; 55 mins – Harris pen, 17-12; 58 mins – Harris pen, 17-15; 65 mins – Callard pen, 20-15; 70 mins – Hamilton try, 20-20.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Redman, Reed, Robinson (rep Beddow, 70 mins), Clarke, Hall.

LEICESTER: Liley; Hamilton, Edwards, Potter, R Underwood; Harris, Kardooni; Rowntree, Cockerill, Garforth, Johnson, Smith, Wells, Richards, Back.

REFEREE: Jim Pearson (Durham Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – showery; pitch – wet.



v Harlequins, Home. Won 22-11. Team:- Callard (1c & 5p), Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan (T), Catt, Sanders, Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Reed, Ojomoh, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Olsen, Adams, Hilton  Ref – M Bayliss. Ground – Slippery. Weather – Wet

This was a pretty awful game despite the splendour of the occasion, with the Minister of Sport, Iain Sproat, arriving by helicopter to open the Teachers Stand, marching bands, the lot. The weather did not help, but on the whole we were awful, but Harlequins were ‘awfuller’. The back row were particularly disappointing, as was the decision making in the middle. Guscott the class player, and Geoghegan scored a rousing interception try. Other than that, not much to cheer about for the large crowd.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

SIMON Geoghegan was picked out for a random drugs test after a stunning breakaway try on his league debut for Bath.

The Ireland wing may once have been described as “Bambi on Benzedrine” but that was merely a reference to his all-action running style.

And anyone with his pace and ability hardly needs anything to enhance his performance beyond a pint of Guinness.

But Bath fans are certainly in need of a pick-me-up these days and when Geoghegan snapped up a loose Quins pass and sped 70 metres to the posts, they greeted the effort with thunderous applause.

They have seen precious little of their summer recruit from London Irish because of qualification rules and, more recently, a calf injury.

And he will be absent again this weekend, on international duty in Dublin against the United States, while his clubmates venture into unknown territory at Sale.

Geoghegan’s first league try for Bath – he scored two as a replacement against the Barbarians in his only other senior game – came two minutes from half-time.

“It was strange actually because I had changed my boots about five minutes earlier because the studs were too small for the greasy conditions,” he said.

“I put on the new boots and immediately scored the try,” said the 26-year-old solicitor before adding: “I’m just very pleased to get a match under my belt.”

Unfortunately, it was the one shaft of brilliance on a gloomy afternoon when, if passes went to hand, they were just as soon spilled.

And Ben Clarke was not the only culprit on this occasion.

Thank goodness then for Jon Callard. His first kick of the afternoon was directed unerringly into the arms of the Minister for Sport during the pre-match ceremonies marking the official opening of the Teacher’s Stand.

And the full-back did not miss a chance all afternoon, succeeding with five penalties and a conversion.

In stark contrast, Quins missed seven kicks and never really got within striking distance of the champions once Geoghegan’s try had opened up a 13-point lead.

With Scotland lock Andy Reed catching cleanly in the middle and the scrum looking solid, it seemed Bath might cut loose.

Instead Quins made light of the loss of Paul Challinor at fly-half with a cracked rib and the reorganisation that followed. They just followed the example of inspirational No 8 Chris Sheasby and got stuck in.

Bath battered away to no avail and while Callard was eventually called up to kick his fifth penalty, Quins finally worked Will Greenwood away to score a try in the corner in injury time.

A thunderous-looking John Hall made no attempt to hide his dissatisfaction at another below-par performance. “Whatever people say about modern rugby players, we still play for enjoyment and I didn’t enjoy that at all,” he said.


BATH FORM – sloppy

SCORERS: 2 mins – Challinor dropped goal, nil-3; 4 mins – Callard pen, 3-3; 20 mins – Callard pen, 6-3; 24 mins – Challinor pen, 6-6; 27 mins – Callard pen, 9-6; 31 mins – Callard pen, 12-6; 34 mins – Geoghegan try, Callard conv, 19-6 (H-T); 70 mins – Callard pen, 22-6; 80 mins – Greenwood try, 22-11.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan; Catt, Sanders; Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Reed, Ojomoh, Clarke, Hall.

HARLEQUINS: Greenwood; O’Leary, Alexander, Thompson, Pinnock; Challnior (rep Luxton, 46 mins), Kitchin; Brown, Hamilton-Smith, Brown, Snow, Davison, Coker (rep P Thresher, 71 mins), Sheasby, Pepper.

REFEREE: Matt Bayliss (Gloucester Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – rain; pitch – wet.



v Sale, Away. Won 19-3. Team:- Callard (3p), Sleightholme, de Glanville (T), Guscott, Adebayo (T), Catt, Sanders, Mallett, Dawe, Ubogu, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall, Peters.  Replacements – Johnson, Beddow, Crompton   Ref – S Lander. Ground – Good. Weather – Fine

We flickered into life a bit more in this game, although still not near our old selves. Ojomoh showed once or twice why he has been picked for England, Peters had a useful game in place of Clarke, the second row got going a bit better. Callard another reliable game. Leicester got beaten by Bristol today so we are top of the league at the half way break.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

WITH a little help from their friends, Bath are back on top of the First Division.

Victory at Sale and Bristol’s toppling of Leicester give the champions a two-point lead as the gruelling Courage League season goes into hibernation for two months.

For Phil de Glanville, the only player in the Bath side to have appeared in all ten matches this season, the break has come not a moment too soon.

But his 69th minute try, charging down a Paul Turner kick and racing 40 metres to the line, underlined just how valuable the 26-year-old centre is to the champions.

That opened up a 14-3 lead and when Adedayo Adebayo followed up with another score from the restart, Sale were out for the count.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us at the moment, much of it self-imposed,” admitted de Glanville. “That lifted when I scored the try.

“I just wish we could play without that inhibition from the start.”

After seven caps in a row, de Glanville is forced back on to the England bench by Jeremy Guscott’s return in Saturday’s international against Romania at Twickenham.

Having swallowed that disappointment, he is hoping to make the most of the rest and does not expect to play for at least a fortnight. As an England squad member, he is also excused divisional duties.

Bath were grateful that all their England men, bar the rested Ben Clarke, were in action at Sale.

Victor Ubogu and Steve Ojomoh had their best games of the season, showing a regained appetite for the game with some destructive running, especially in the last quarter.

But John Hall’s side again had to withstand prolonged pressure as Sale launched repeated attacks orchestrated by veteran fly-half Paul Turner.

The Manchester team had scored tries against every other team in the league but this time the supply dried up because Bath refused to fall for all the feints and trickery.

Guscott, de Glanville and Co simply stood off, waiting for the ball-carrier to make his move.

Although Sale scrummaged well enough, Bath enjoyed a rare day of domination in the line-out and gradually sapped the home pack’s strength by driving close to the rucks and mauls.

Clarke’s deputy at No 8, Eric Peters, exhibited all the pent-up energy of a quality player finally given a first league opportunity this season. “He had a stormer,” said coach Brian Ashton.

But Bath still had to rely on two Jon Callard penalties as half-backs Ian Sanders and Mike Catt again struggled to supply the required vision and direction in a shapeless first half.

An impressive burst by Ojomoh after 52 minutes, galloping a full 30 metres into the Sale 22, forced a third Callard penalty and Sale began to wobble.

De Glanville’s try simply reflected Bath’s growing superiority, which was confirmed within two minutes when Guscott broke majestically and slid through a neat grubber-kick for Adebayo to score.


BATH FORM: resurgent

SCORERS: 18 mins – Callard pen, nil-3; 24 mins – Rob Liley pen, 3-3; 35 mins – Callard pen, 3-6 (H-T); 53 mins – Callard pen, 3-9; 69 mins – de Glanville try, 3-14; 71 mins – Adebayo try, 3-19.

SALE: Liley; Verbickas, Baxendell, Stocks, Appleson; Turner, Warr; P Smith, Diamond, A Smith, Baldwin, Erskine, Kenrick, Vyvyan, Ashurst.

BATH: Callard; Sleightholme, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo; Catt, Sanders; Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Peters, Hall.

REFEREE: Steve Lander (Liverpool Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast; pitch – good.



v Oxford University, Home. Won 33-26. Team:- Long (T), Iacono, Webber, Lewis, Lloyd, Butland (T, 3c, 3p & 1dg), Olsen, Crompton (T), Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Pearce, Maslen, Egerton (Capt). Replacements – Lloyd (N), Yates, Stafford  Ref – Matt Bayliss. Ground – Damp. Weather – Drizzly

What a relief after 9 league games to have a bit of fun! This was a good run out for what was really the United side, and it gave the crowd the chance to see some of the youngsters. Butland and Pearce really impressed. This marked Egerton’s last game after year’s of great service to the Club.

Ed Pearce graduated from the just defunct Under–21 squad for an outstanding 1st XV debut at age 19. Bath’s forward momentum provided ample opportunities for an open game. Rich Butland chalked up 23 points, with a portfolio of a try, 3 conversions, 3 penalties and a drop goal, in a fine overall debut performance. Gareth Rees took early advantage of some Bath indiscipline with three long range penalties. A thoroughly entertaining game.



v Coventry, Away. Won 45-10. Team:- Long, Morley (T), Stafford, Rayner, Woodman (Tx2), Butland (5c), Johnson, Yates (T), Beddow, Hilton (T), Haag (T), McCoy, Pearce, Peters (T), Maslen (Capt). Replacements – Harvey, Curtis Ref – Fraser Gill. Ground – Good. Weather – Fine

After a rather shaky start, this team of near-unknowns really showed Coventry what 15-man rugby is all about. Played at a cracking pace throughout, Butland again shone, as did Pearce, Peters and Long. In fact, they all joined in the fun, and the front row in particular had a great running time.

There were substantial numbers on International, Divisional and County commitments. Haydn Long had a competent afternoon at full back, and was ever ready to join in with speedy three-quarter movements. The home side were full of fight, but Bath proved to be more organised, fit and effective.

There was a particularly memorable try by Peters, after a Butland break fed Morley on to Stafford.

It was good to see props Yates and Hilton on the score card.



v Pontypool, Away. Won 25-13. Team:- Long, Blackett, Rayner, Lewis (T), Woodman (Tx2), Butland (2c, 1p & 1dg), Johnson, Clark, Adams, Crane, Matthews, McCoy, Robinson, Cosgrove, Maslen (Capt).  Replacements – Harvey, Hussey, Crompton, Book, Timmington  Ref – R Hope. Ground – Good. Weather – Fair

This evening friendly, one of the few Anglo-Welsh fixtures left, was poorly supported, but those who did go saw another excellent performance by the Bath second string. This game saw the come-back of Andy Robinson after five weeks off with injured ribs and he played a blinder. Woodman again impressed on the wing whilst flu half Butland continued to impress.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH maintained their unbeaten record this season even though coach Brian Ashton ordered a “no kicks” approach from his stylish young side.

It was marvellous to watch and undoubtedly the right approach. It just took a little nerve to pursue at such a daunting venue as Pontypool Park.

“It was pretty obvious from the first 20 minutes that if we played the game up front, we’d lose,” said Ashton.

“But the way these backs are playing at the moment, I felt we only had to move it around to cause them a lot of problems.

“So I sent a message on at half-time to run every free-kick, every penalty and counter-attack with every ball we get.”

Fly-half Richard Butland again impressed with his distribution and running while Iestyn Lewis’s powerful bursts in the centre were the notable feature of the game.

The forwards had a rather tougher time of it and relied rather too much on the inspirational example of Andy Robinson, making a comeback after a rib injury.

It was his burst off the back of a scrum after 11 minutes which led to the first of two tries for left wing Mark Woodman.

For much of the first half when they had the slope in their favour, Pontypool held the upper hand, drawing level on 22 minutes with a try by Graham Kirkup after a rash of penalties in the Bath 22.

Although Butland dropped a fine goal after setting up the position himself with a spectacular break, Pontypool led 13-8 at half-time thanks to an Adam Carr penalty and a try by lock Keith Stewart.

Bath began to string together some impressive moves after the interval but it was 59 minutes before they retook the lead.

Again Robinson kept the attack going, and Woodman supported eagerly to crash over at the posts for a try converted by Butland.

Three minutes later Lewis deflected a kick into the air, caught the rebound and raced 45 metres to the line. Butland’s conversion made it 22-13 and even Ashton was not going to complain too much about a 71st minute penalty to round things off.

SCORERS: Pontypool – tries: Kirkup, Stewart. Pen: Carr. Bath – tries: Woodman 2, Lewis. Convs: Butland 2. Pen: Butland. Dropped goal: Butland.

PONTYPOOL: Carr; Jones, Taylor, Allison, Walker; Ring, Hayter; Crandon, Isaac, Crimmins, Nolan, Stewart, Short (rep Graham, 78 mins), Kirkup, Hewitt.

BATH: Long; Blackett, Rayner, Lewis, Woodman; Butland, Johnson; Crane, Adams, Clark, McCoy, Matthews, Robinson, Maslen, Cosgrove.

REFEREE: Roy Hope.



v Loughborough Students, Home. Won 65-7. Team:- Belgian, Timmington (T), Stafford, Rayner (Tx2), Adebayo (T), Butland (T, 6c & 1dg), Harvey (T), Yates, Adams (Tx2), Hilton, Gillies, Maguire (Tx2), Robinson, Pearce, Maslen  Replacements – Hirons, Long, McCarthy  Ref – S Kent Ground – Good Weather – Cloudy

What a spree! The second string did Bath proud again in this free running and entertaining game. Several of the first timers played well – Timmington, Macguire, Harvey particularly – as did Adams, Butland, Robinson and Pearce. Robbo now well on the way to full recovery – who will play in the Cup game on 17th I wonder?

The last four first team games have seen Bath score an astonishing 168 points, including 23 sparkling tries.

With thrilling displays of 15-man rugby, Bath’s forwards have also played their part, showing running and passing qualities undreamed of a decade ago.

Strength in depth was further emphasised – at Lambridge, Bath United made it a double, with an 18 points to 7 win over the Students second string.



v Nottingham, Away. Won 22-10. Team:- Long, Woodman, Stafford, Lewis, Timington, Butland (2c & 1p), Johnson (T), Yates, Deane, Mallett, Haag, McCoy, Crompton (T), Pearce, Maslen (T) (Capt)  Replacements – Hirons, Willcox, Davis   Ref – Roger Rees. Ground – Good. Weather – Fine

The second string at last showed signs of fallibility; however they managed to pull out a win against some strong tackling and lively opponents. There was some particularly iffy refereeing, which did not help, but Pearce continued to impress and Lewis looks as though he is coming back on song.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

TEENAGE flanker Ed Pearce already carries a big reputation at Bath – and it’s not all to do with his size 16 feet.

Last season’s Clifton College captain made his fourth senior appearance in as many weeks at Nottingham, still squeezed into a pair of size 15s.

Bath have been in touch with a number of boot manufacturers about the 6ft 5in 19-year-old’s problem.

“My feet are particularly broad too,” said Pearce. “And the problem is the boots last hardly any time at all because there’s so much stress on them.”

In the meantime Pearce is making light of the discomfort, revelling in the unexpected promotion to first team rugby and training alongside the stars.

“These players are really amazing, so you listen to what they are saying,” he declared. “Everyone is really helpful and wants you to succeed. Training’s been brilliant.”

Pearce, who had four caps last season at Schools 18-Group as a blindside, is still eligible for England Colts honours this season.

“Even moving into colts with Bath was a big shock after schools rugby,” he said.

Pearce did not have much chance to shine on his latest appearance but neither did anyone else on a day when the only satisfaction was in preserving the season’s 15-match unbeaten record.

The first half was remarkable only for the fact that Nottingham conceded 19 penalties – ten of those in the first 12 minutes.

But they took the lead on the quarter hour through scrum-half David Roberts, taking a return pass from No 8 Nigel Malik after a scrum in the Bath 22. Fly-half Phil Stent converted the try.

Bath looked the more dangerous outside the scrum, mainly through the forceful running of Iestyn Lewis, but their first score was down to scrummaging.

With England tourist John Mallett adding his strength and technique to the front row, the 23rd minute try was a literal pushover for Nick Maslen.

Although trailing 7-5 at the interval, Bath were in the lead two minutes after the restart with a Richard Butland penalty, but that was soon lost to a Stent penalty.

Nottingham have never been the easiest of sides to break down and this proved quite a test for the Bath youngsters, especially as the two strips were confusingly similar.

Ten minutes from time, however, Mallett drove close to the line and scrum-half Simon Johnson nipped over for a try, converted by Butland.

The final score came in injury time when debutant flanker Will Crompton, brother of South West prop Darren, pounced on a dropped pass in-goal.


BATH FORM: persistent

SCORERS: 16 mins – Roberts try, Stent conv, 7-nil; 23 mins – Maslen try, 7-5 (H-T); 42 mins – Butland pen, 7-8; 57 mins – Stent pen, 10-8; 70 mins – Johnson try, Butland conv, 10-15; 81 mins – Crompton try, Butland conv, 10-22.

NOTTINGHAM: Byrom; Bygrave, Webster, Musto, Holland; Stent, Roberts; Wright, Claydon, Jackson, Gray, Langley, Davies, Malik, Brennan.

BATH: Long; Woodman, Stafford, Lewis, Timmington; Butland, Johnson; Yates, Deane, Mallett, Haag, McCoy, W Crompton, Maslen, Pearce.

REFEREE: Roger Rees (N Midlands Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – fine; pitch – good.



v Exeter, Away. Won 53-14. Team:- Callard (Tx2, 5c & 1p), Sleightholme (T), Webber (T), Lewis (T), Adebayo (T), Rayner, Olsen, Yates, French, Mallett, Haag, Redman (T), Robinson, Hall (T), Maslen. Replacements – Johnson, Clark, Hussey replaced French  Ref – D May. Ground – Heavy. Weather – Windy

After their usual slow start, Bath started to pile on the pressure at this evening game which was rearranged to celebrate the opening of Exeter’s new clubhouse. A six try romp, with some splendid kicking by Callard in difficult conditions, made for a very satisfactory outing for Bath.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

HOOKER Gary French’s first team career with Bath could not have begun more disastrously as he dislocated his shoulder within ten minutes.

The 26-year-old had waited more than three months to make his senior debut after moving from Orrell during the close season.

“It went straight out and after a couple of seconds went back in again. I didn’t want to go off because it was my first game,” said French, who did his best to disguise the injury before finally retiring in the 75th minute.

But more than a few Bath supporters wondered why he just could not seem to find the line-out jumpers with his throws.

“I couldn’t tackle properly and I’m right-handed so my throwing in wasn’t any good,” he admitted.

“I can’t play with it like this so I’ll have to get it sorted,” said French, who works for a Bristol accountancy firm.

The trip to Devon to celebrate the opening of Exeter’s clubhouse extension was otherwise a successful night out for Bath.

Skipper John Hall had not played since the Courage League match at Sale more than a month ago and there was a widespread rustiness which Exeter exploited in the first quarter.

In fact Bath did not get out of their own half at all in the first ten minutes, by which time they were 7-nil down to a fifth minute try by centre Jason Thomas, converted by fly-half Meeku Patidar.

Patidar impressed with a succession of delicately placed kicks but the champions made life difficult for themselves by misplacing passes and failing to hang on to the ball in contact.

Slowly, though, they began to assert themselves. Jon Callard kicked a simple penalty and then rounded off a string of tapped penalties by slipping over for a try he converted himself.

Nigel Redman added another on the stroke of half-time to give Bath a 15-7 lead.

Apart from a penalty try for obstruction, it was one way traffic in the second half as the visitors settled into that familiar, destructive rhythm despite a sticky pitch.

SCORERS: Exeter – tries: Thomas, penalty try; conversions: Patidar 2. Bath – tries: Callard 2, Redman, Iestyn Lewis, Andy Webber, John Hall, Jon Sleightholme, Adedayo Adebayo. Convs: Callard 5. Pen: Callard.

EXETER: Stewart; Doyle, Turner, Thomas, Dovell; Patidar, Maunder; Gibbins, Woolterton, Harris, Langley, Bartlett, Batchelor, Cathery, Hutchinson.

BATH: Callard; Sleightholme, Webber, Lewis, Adebayo; Rayner, Olsen; Yates, French (rep Hussey, 75 mins), Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Maslen, Hall.

REFEREE: David May (Cornwall Soc)



v London Scottish, Away. Won 31-6. Team:- Callard (T, 2c & 4p), Swift (T), de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan, Catt, Olsen, Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Haag, Reed, Robinson, Hall, Peters.  Bath awarded a penalty try  Replacements – Johnson, Adams, Mallett   Ref – D Chapman. Ground – OK Weather – Cold & damp

Bath didn’t really play all that well in this game. Perhaps they had had too long a lay off. The ref. did his best to spoil it as a spectacle. However, Callard had an outstanding game and Olsen made a very impressive debut. Peters looked good too. No wonder Scotland want him! On to the next round…

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

DAVID Hilton is in line to make his Scotland debut against Canada next month.

The Bath loosehead prop is the only credible choice if Bristol’s Alan Sharp is ruled out by a back problem, says Scottish front row veteran Paul Burnell.

“Hilts is a David Sole-type prop in that he’s good with the ball in his hands. He’s not just in there for his scrummaging or his line-out support work.

“He’s a good player and he’s only 24. I would say he’s almost certainly next in line if Alan isn’t fit,” added Burnell after his London Scottish side had been knocked out of the Pilkington Cup.

Hilton, like Sharp, is a product of Bristol Colts and has a West Country accent to match. But a Scottish grandfather on his father’s side propelled him into their World Cup squad earlier this season.

He justified that faith with a fine display against the Springboks when making his international debut at `A’ level in November.

Burnell’s generous but genuine appraisal was offered in spite of the fact Hilton gave him a pretty torrid time in this fourth round tie at Richmond Park.

The Lions tourist was forced to drop a scrum in front of his own posts soon after half-time, giving Jon Callard an easy chance to put Bath 12-3 up with his fourth penalty.

Murry Walker quickly pulled back three points but then had a clearance kick charged down by Mike Catt, from which Bath forced a line-out, then a scrum five.

As the Scottish pack was being marched over the line and Eric Peters readied himself for the try, Burnell stood up and referee Doug Chapman awarded a penalty try.

Callard’s conversion gave Bath a 13-point lead and dashed any remote possibility of a shock first-stage exit for the champions.

In truth, they never looked like losing but the Second Division side certainly made life difficult for most of the first hour.

Aided by some accurate tactical kicking from fly-half Walker, the Exiles harried and hassled relentlessly and it was all too obvious that Bath had not even trained together, let alone played, for six weeks.

Fussy refereeing – there were 30 penalties and free-kicks – only added to the general sense of disorder and lack of direction.

At least Marcus Olsen offered a shaft of light amid the chaos. The former England Under-21 scrum-half, appearing in his first big game, impressed with his quick, clean service under pressure.

After the penalty try it was a completely different game. Bath began to move the ball more confidently and Callard steamed through for the second try on 55 minutes, cleverly angling his run on to Graham Dawe’s pass.

Jeremy Guscott, who had flown in from a fashion shoot in Miami in the early hours, sprang to life with a chip and chase which nearly produced another score.

But it was the ageless Tony Swift who provided the third try – his 23rd in cup rugby – following a tapped penalty.

Surprisingly, that run-in on the hour was the final score as Callard failed to convert and the expected avalanche of points in the last quarter never materialised, despite Bath’s dominance.


BATH FORM: adequate

SCORERS: 23 mins – Callard pen, nil-3; 30 mins – Callard pen, nil-6; 33 mins – Callard pen, nil-9; 39 mins – Walker pen, 3-9 (H-T); 44 mins – Callard pen, 3-12; 49 mins – Walker pen, 6-12; 52 mins – penalty try, Callard pen, 3-19; 55 mins – Callard try & conv, 3-26; Swift try, 6-31.

LONDON SCOTTISH: Robinson; Watson, Millard, Eriksson, Pearson; Walker, Troup; Signorini, Gilchrist, Burnell, Scott, Nisbet, Dixon, Morrison, Holmes.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan; Catt, Olsen; Hilton, Dawe, Ubogu, Haag, Reed, Robinson, Peters, Hall.

REFEREE: Doug Chapman (Yorkshire Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – cold, showery; pitch – good.



v Clifton, Home. Won 17-3. Team:- Morley, Lloyd (T), Webber (T), Sparkes, Blackett, Book (1c), Johnson, Yates, Dean, Crane, Maslen (Capt), Heal (T), Nicholas, B Robinson, Cosgrove.  Replacements – Hussey, Lloyd, Parker  Ref – T Hunter. Ground – Sticky. Weather – Wet

A cold and miserable day on the Rec saw this game get off to a slow Boxing Day start before a surprisingly good crowd. Clifton in fact took the lead. The scratch Bath side, many of whom had never been seen in first team colours before, shook the Christmas pud our of their systems and managed to extend Bath’s unbeaten run. Lloyd had an impressive game.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

IF Clifton were ever going to pull off an upset at the home of English rugby’s champion club, this was their big chance.

Bath blooded three new faces in the back five and skipper Nick Maslen had to switch to the second row to fill another vacancy.

Clifton needed to be at full-strength to take advantage. But having to draft a hooker, Lee Ashford, into the back row shortly before kick-off betrayed their own selection problems.

And that disappointed fly-half Simon Hogg, who had provided some early encouragement with a ninth minute penalty.

“You’ve got to be properly prepared to have any chance here,” said the fly-half. “We weren’t and that’s a shame because we would have had a chance with a full team and if everybody had turned up on time.”

Hogg, opposing another wily old campaigner in Clive Book, had first use of a wintry wind driving a succession of squalls across the Recreation Ground.

Huge, hanging kicks kept the Bath defence at full-stretch and it was one of those that led to that early score.

However, Clifton struggled to make much impact outside the scrum and Hogg refused to blame the conditions for those shortcomings. “Bath didn’t seem too troubled by the weather,” he said.

That was clear from the try that put the home side in front after 30 minutes. It was Peter Blackett, coming off the left wing, who made the opening for Mike Lloyd on the right.

Having lost second row Lee Waddon shortly before the interval, Clifton found themselves battling against the conditions and a more confident Bath side in the second half.

To their credit, Clifton stuck to it and No 8 Simon Powell had a particularly effective game in defence.

But there was really no way back after lock Rod Heal plunged over for a debut try in the 48th minute from a Clifton line-out throw – an area of the game in which they had done well.

That made it 10-3 and, although Book missed a sitter of a penalty shortly afterwards, centre Andy Webber made amends on 68 minutes by waltzing round for a try, converted by Book.


SCORERS: 9 mins – Hogg pen, nil-3; 30 mins – Lloyd try, 5-3 (H-T); 48 mins – Heal try, 10-3; 68 mins – Webber try, Book conv, 17-3.

BATH: Morley; Lloyd, Webber, Sparkes, Blackett; Book, Johnson; Yates, Deane, Crane, Maslen, Heal, Nicholas, Cosgrove, B Robinson.

CLIFTON: Morris; Brain, Lock, Naivalarua (rep Shipton, 70 mins), Hodges; Hogg, Rees; Burns, Allen, Reuben, Waddon (rep McMillan 39 mins), Dodds, Williamson, Powell, Ashford. REFEREE: Trevor Hunter (Somerset Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – rain; pitch – heavy.



v Bristol, Away. Won 10-9. Team:- Callard (1c & 1p), Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan (T), Catt, Olsen, Clark, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Yates, Sanders, Adams  Ref – S Piercy. Ground – Good. Weather – Dull & drizzly

This was so typical of out local derby! It started off bad tempered, with Bristol pressing hard and going 9-0 up after 3 penalties. Thereafter Bath started to crank it up and in the third quarter took complete control and nearly scored far more. There was some very strange refereeing and Graham Dawe collected the first yellow card under the new system. de Glanville, Swift and Robinson played well.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BRISTOL have swallowed some bitter pills during a decade of derby failure but this was their most traumatic defeat since the cup final heartbreak of 1984.

That is was a momentous match – unbearable in its tension, gripping in its brutal ferocity – will come as no consolation at all to Derek Eves and his shattered clubmates.

They gave it everything, only to find that it was not quite enough.

Some of the players were choking back the tears an hour after the final whistle.

But when they come to analyse what went on in front of a fanatical 11,000 Memorial Ground crowd, Bristol will have to face some harsh truths.

Yes, they frightened the living daylights out of Bath in an explosive first half. Yes, they had penalty chances to win the game in the dying minutes.

In the end though, they remained tryless.

They have not crossed the Bath line in four matches now and no side, no matter how disciplined, can hope to beat the champions without posing some sort of threat away from the set piece.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I feel,” said scrum-half Kyran Bracken, who waged a no-holds-barred war with the Bath back row. “I honestly felt that this one had our name on it.”

For a good half an hour, it did. Bath had to fight, literally and desperately, to stay afloat as Bristol’s forwards tore into the fray early on.

Andy Blackmore and Simon Shaw were outstanding while flanker Rob Armstrong played the game of his life for at least the third time this season.

The result was a nine-point lead – heady heights for a Bristol side more used to playing catch-up against their great rivals.

Mark Tainton, striking the ball beautifully, looked as though he could kick goals with his eyes shut.

Bath were rattled to the core and a combination of their frustration and Bristol’s over-eagerness led to countless flare-ups.

At times it was more like an afternoon at the Roman Coliseum, although no-one could quite work out who the Christians were.

Referee Stuart Piercy lectured forwards from both sides and then issued a general warning to the captains. All 30 players stayed the course – but only just.

If a turning point could be said to have arrived as early as the 24th minute it came after Tainton sent up a peach of a high kick that Tony Swift could only fumble into touch.

Blackmore took a clean catch at the line-out, the maul rumbled forward and Bath were penalised on their own line. Out came the fists once more and once the dust had settled the touchjudge decided that Blackmore was to blame and the decision was reversed.

From that point Bath took charge. Andy Robinson and Ben Clarke began to earn their corn in the loose; Jon Callard ran dangerously from deep and Phil de Glanville made break after break in midfield.

For the most part Bristol’s tackling was secure. But they made a dreadful hash of their drift defence after a line-out take by John Hall on 33 minutes and, after de Glanville had made the dent, Simon Geoghegan was left with an overlap he could have finished off on one leg.

There was no let-up after the break. Bristol lost their shape entirely under the Bath onslaught and they were fortunate not to concede tries on at least three occasions.

Indeed the home side were almost relieved when Callard thumped over a straightforward penalty to edge Bath ahead.

At least they were able to restart from halfway – an area of the pitch they had not seen for some 20 minutes.

The last 11 minutes were on a knife-edge. Three times Tainton lined up awkward long-range penalty shots to win the game. Three times he failed narrowly to hit the target.

“I honestly felt the last one was over but it dipped under the crossbar,” he said.

“We’ll beat them one day but this is very hard to take.”

Skipper Eves was honest in defeat.

“I really don’t think the game was as close as the score suggested,” he said. “I was disappointed with the way we performed after the break. We knew Bath would go up a gear but we just seemed to stop playing.

“You can’t afford to do that against opponents of that class. We CAN beat Bath but to do it we need to cut out the basic errors and play at full pitch from the first whistle.”


BRISTOL/BATH FORM: totally committed.

SCORERS: 5 mins – Tainton pen, 3-nil; 7 mins – Tainton pen, 6-nil; 20 mins – Tainton pen, 9-nil; 33 mins – Geoghegan try, Callard conv, 9-7 (H-T); 64 mins – Callard pen, 9-10.

BRISTOL: Bennett; John, Knibbs, Wring (rep Newall, 40 mins), Sharp; Tainton, Bracken; Sharp, Regan, Hinkins, Shaw, Blackmore, Armstrong, Patten, Eves.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan; Catt, Olsen; Clark, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Clarke, Hall.

REFEREE: Stuart Piercy (Yorkshire).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast, light wind; pitch – soft.



v Northampton, Home. Won 26-6. Team:- Callard (2c & 4p), Swift (T), de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan (T), Butland, Olsen, Hilton, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Ojomoh.    Ref – D Leslie. Ground – Gluey. Weather – Overcast

Anyone who thought this was going to be a walkover for Bath should think again. Northampton’s slightly youngsters fought all the way, although outclassed in every department. This was the first game in which England players (three per club) were required to step down so strength in depth is going to be the game from now on. Butland played well and sensibly in his first league game. Haag shone in the loose and there were a couple of fine tries.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH’S famed finishing skills almost deserted them against the Courage League’s bottom team.

Fortunately, tries from wings Tony Swift and Simon Geoghegan in the last 12 minutes helped erase the memory of two missed kicks in front of goal by Jon Callard and an extraordinary lapse by Jeremy Guscott.

The England centre made a breathtaking break after 54 minutes and had Phil de Glanville and Swift outside him screaming for the pass.

But he ignored the two-man overlap, tried to dummy the full-back and was hauled down a yard short of the line, also conceding a penalty for trying to wriggle over in the tackle.

Coach Brian Ashton afterwards rather pointedly drew the simplest of diagrams for his star player and Guscott had to put up with the merciless ribbing of his teammates.

“Three-on-one is three-on-one – you should score every time,” said Ashton. “We all enjoyed the break but didn’t enjoy the end product.

“But it’s probably a break that no other centre could have made.

“He’s looking very sharp – he looks like the Jeremy Guscott of three years ago, more so since he’s come back from Lanzarote.”

Guscott, who was out of the game for a year with groin trouble, said: “I think it’s more to do with anticipation of the Five Nations Championship and the adrenaline starting to flow.”

Bath were leading only 12-6 when that particular chance went begging but skipper John Hall insisted that the prospect of defeat never entered his mind.

Callard had opened the scoring in the very first minute but, incredibly, missed another penalty from just 15 metres out, directly in front of the posts.

Three more successful kicks, to one from Paul Grayson, made it 12-3 at half-time in a dull, penalty-ridden game.

Talk among the fans of 30 or 40-point winning margins quickly subsided in the evidence of tenacious Northampton defence, both wide out and in close-quarters.

Locks Gavin Webster and Jon Phillips worked manfully but Bath, with Andy Robinson, Martin Haag and Phil de Glanville seemingly involved in every movement, stoked up the pressure.

Somehow, though, it lacked the customary conviction and Hall’s suggestion that everyone was suffering from a hangover after the previous weekend’s emotional high at Bristol seemed entirely valid.

Grayson’s second penalty was quickly followed by Guscott’s bloomer and Callard hitting the post from just 18 metres.

Not for the first time, the ageless Swift eased the nerves by appearing on the `wrong’ wing outside Haag and de Glanville to score in the corner. Perversely, Callard converted from touch.

The gloss was applied by Geoghegan, latching on to an overhead pass by scrum-half Marcus Olsen who had broken quickly from a tapped penalty. The Ireland wing left Nick Beal for dead in dazzling fashion and Callard converted again.


BATH FORM: half-throttle

SCORERS: 1 min – Callard pen, 3-nil; 14 mins – Callard pen, 6-nil; 24 mins – Callard pen, 9-nil; 36 mins – Grayson pen, 9-3; 40 mins – Callard pen, 12-3 (H-T); 52 mins – Grayson pen, 12-6; 68 mins – Swift try, Callard conv, 19-6; 72 mins – Geoghegan try, Callard conv, 26-6.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan; Butland, Olsen; Hilton, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Ojomoh, Hall.

NORTHAMPTON: Beal; Thorneycroft, Packman, Allen, Moir; Grayson, Dawson; Hynes, Clarke (rep Volland, 58 mins), Lewis, Webster, Phillips, Cassell, Seely, Pountney.

REFEREE: David Leslie (Scotland RFU).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast, dry; pitch – good.



v Orrell, Away. Won 25-19. Team:- Callard (2p), Swift (T), de Glanville, Guscott (T), Adebayo, Catt (3dg), Olsen, Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Ojomoh.  Replacements – Johnson, Adams, Clark  Ref – E Morrison. Ground – Sticky. Weather – Cod & blowy

A nail biting cup tie. Orrell could feel themselves a bit hard done by – they played very well and their backs certainly have some speed. But the Bath pack gradually took control in the second half and so we march on to the 6th round. Who next? Leicester away?

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

A MIKE Catt dropped goal is such a rare event that three in one match was almost too much even for him to believe.

But Bath were thankful for an impromptu performance that helped steer the Pilkington Cup holders into the quarter-finals for the ninth time in 12 seasons.

In the end though it was the coolness of Jon Callard, faced with a 30-metre penalty chance in the 76th minute, that clinched victory.

That made the score 20-19 and a try on the whistle by Jeremy Guscott merely added gloss.

Bath supporters had been sweating up to that point, not daring to believe that their team could pull off another late escape.

But, according to Catt, they need not have worried.

“We turned round 16-6 down to play with the wind down the slope,” said the fly-half who doubles as England’s full-back. “It was just a matter of waiting for the points to come.

“Even when they went back in front with eight minutes left, Andy Robinson said not to worry, there was plenty of time.”

The crucial penalty was awarded by Bristol’s international referee, Ed Morrison, against tighthead prop for dropping a relentlessly advancing Bath scrum.

In desperation, Orrell tried to run out from their own line and when the ball was spilled by wing Austin Healey in a tackle, Guscott coasted in from 50 metres.

Catt, who could remember only ever scoring two dropped goals in his career, opened the scoring in the 15th minute.

But Orrell, taking full advantage of a bitter, blustery wind, attacked down the slope and were in front within three minutes after Simon Langford came barrelling into the line.

Phil de Glanville and Adedayo Adebayo seemed to get in each other’s way in the tackle and the full-back touched down by the posts, landing the conversion himself.

The Orrell veteran kicked two penalties, to one from Callard, before re-establishing the ten-point lead with a dropped goal himself.

But after doing all the hard work, he was responsible for letting Bath back into the game just a couple of minutes into the second half.

Langford’s touch kick from a mark failed to reach touch, finding the hands of Martin Haag, one of the best footballing second rows in the game. He fed Adebayo, Bath won the ruck and a simple overlap on the right provided Tony Swift with his 24th try in cup-ties.

Unfortunately for Orrell, they were a man short in the backs because fly-half Martin Hamer had just limped off with a hamstring injury.

When Catt had completed his hat-trick of dropped goals on the hour, Bath led 17-16 but their approach continued to be a limited one.

Much of the game was being fought out in the rucks and mauls and one the fringes, where scrum-half Dewi Morris made life increasingly uncomfortable for young Marcus Olsen.

When a break by centre Ian Wynn took Orrell on a rare excursion into Bath territory with ten minutes left, Langford completed a 19-point haul with a difficult angled penalty.

But Bath, as they have done in so many cup matches over the last extraordinary decade, held their nerve.


BATH FORM: patient

SCORERS: 15 mins – Catt dropped goal, nil-3; 18 mins – Langford try & conv, 7-3; 21 mins – Langford pen, 10-3; 28 mins – Langford pen, 13-3; 30 mins – Callard pen, 13-6; 38 mins – Langford dropped goal, 16-6 (H-T); 42 mins – Swift try, 16-11; 53 mins – Catt dropped goal, 16-14; 60 mins – Catt dropped goal, 16-17; 70 mins – Langford pen, 19-17; 76 mins – Callard pen, 19-20; 80 mins – Guscott try, 19-25.

ORRELL: Langford; Naylor, Wynn, Johnson, Healey; Hamer (rep Peacock, 41 mins), Morris; Winstanley, Scott, Russell, Cooper, Cusani, Cleary, Bibby, Huxley.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo; Catt, Olsen; Ubogu, Dawe, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Ojomoh, Hall.

REFEREE: Ed Morrison (Bristol Soc).

CONDITIONS: cold, showery; pitch – good.



v Orrell, Away. Drawn 6-6. Team:- Callard (2p), Geoghegan, de Glanville (Capt), Lewis, Sleightholme, Catt, Olsen, Hilton, Dawe, Clark, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Peters, Ojomoh.  Replacements – Johnson, McCarthy, Pearce  Ref – R Rees. Ground – Boggy. Weather – Wet & miserable

A rotten game this. Bath had the skills and should have won easily – which is what made the fact that we didn’t even more disappointing. The forwards played well and the backs did not seem to know what to do with the ball, particularly down the centre. Catt took a number of wrong options and Lewis looked a shadow of his former self. The ball hardly got out to Geoghegan and Sleightholme. Still it was a point and Leicester lost to Gloucester!

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

EVEN the news that Leicester had lost at Gloucester could not console Bath at the loss of a vital Courage League point.

Almost as worrying was the lack of style – no tries, just two penalties from full-back Jon Callard.

The equalising kick came just five minutes from time, preserving an unbeaten record that stretches back to February 18 last year.

Again the champions were left counting their blessings – and one in particular, in the shape of flanker Andy Robinson who maintains astonishing levels of energy, concentration and resilience.

But in the absence of England men Jeremy Guscott, Victor Ubogu and Ben Clarke, not to mention injured skipper John Hall, there was little evidence of the dynamic Bath.

Stand-in captain Philip de Glanville was reluctant to blame the loss of such key figures for a below-par performance.

“It’s not an excuse – it shouldn’t be, given the cover available in the Bath squad but it does affect the rhythm of the side and the way we play the game,” said the centre.

“It wasn’t until the start of the second half that we began to play as we should do. But for much of the time we made too many stupid mistakes.

“We’re lucky today because Leicester have lost, but this game here will also have given us a much needed kick up the backside.”

The answer, according to de Glanville, is practice and more practice but as England’s replacement threequarter he will be missing this week on international duty.

“Traditionally this is a sticky period for us, with so many players involved in internationals – even more so this year with the World Cup,” he added.

“That’s why we end up dogging it out and kicking goals when we should be scoring tries.”

There was no hiding place in the visitors’ dressing room after the game as the Bath players conducted one of the “honesty sessions” that usually follows such results.

Among those facing up to criticism was the one current England cap cleared to play, Mike Catt, whose decision-making from fly-half did not measure up.

So, while the intention had been to work the ball out at every opportunity to Simon Geoghegan and Jon Sleightholme, two of the fastest wings in the business, it rarely happened.

And when Sleightholme did get away down the left in the second half, he lost control of the ball while changing his grip.

Bath had trailed 6-nil to two Simon Langford penalties at half-time although Orrell had had to make two changes in their pack by this time.

The chief casualty was flanker Dave Cleary who made the mistake of running full-tilt into Steve Ojomoh and shattered his upper arm, a distressing sight for players and supporters alike.

After the interval Bath marched Orrell all round the field, collecting a string of penalties as the desperate defenders pulled down a succession of driving mauls.

Callard immediately pulled back three points, hit the post from 35 metres after 50 minutes and missed completely from a similar difference three minutes later. Eventually, he succeeded with a 30 metre kick as prospects of outright victory faded.


BATH FORM: error-ridden

SCORERS: 15 mins – Langford pen, 3-nil; 24 mins – Langford pen, 6-nil (H-T); 44 mins – Callard pen, 6-3; 75 mins – Callard pen, 6-6.

ORRELL: Langford; Naylor, Wynn, Johnson, Healey; Ainscough, Morris; Winstanley, Scott, Cundick (rep Southern, 17 mins), Cooper, Cusani, Cleary (rep Brierley, 37 mins), Manley, Huxley.

BATH: Callard; Geoghegan, de Glanville, Lewis, Sleightholme; Catt, Olsen; Hilton, Dawe, Clark, Haag, Redman, Peters, Ojomoh, Robinson.

REFEREE: Chris Rees (London Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – wind, rain; pitch – soft.



v Northampton, Home. Won 26-6. Team:- Callard (2c & 4p), Swift, de Glanville (T), Guscott, Sleightholme, Catt, Olsen, Hilton, Adams, Ubogu, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall, Clarke (T).  Replacements – Johnson replaced Olsen, Dawe, Crompton  Ref – Steve Lander. Ground – Sticky. Weather – Fine

This was yet another dour and iffy cup tie. Bath did not really get into their stride until the second half, and then only fitfully. Luckily Northampton did not have anything behind the scrum to recommend them. Grayson kicked badly, whilst Callard got 6 out of 6. Not a game one wants to remember – also too much whistle.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH’S famed finishing skills almost deserted them against the Courage League’s bottom team.

Fortunately, tries from wings Tony Swift and Simon Geoghegan in the last 12 minutes helped erase the memory of two missed kicks in front of goal by Jon Callard and an extraordinary lapse by Jeremy Guscott.

The England centre made a breathtaking break after 54 minutes and had Phil de Glanville and Swift outside him screaming for the pass.

But he ignored the two-man overlap, tried to dummy the full-back and was hauled down a yard short of the line, also conceding a penalty for trying to wriggle over in the tackle.

Coach Brian Ashton afterwards rather pointedly drew the simplest of diagrams for his star player and Guscott had to put up with the merciless ribbing of his teammates.

“Three-on-one is three-on-one – you should score every time,” said Ashton. “We all enjoyed the break but didn’t enjoy the end product.

“But it’s probably a break that no other centre could have made.

“He’s looking very sharp – he looks like the Jeremy Guscott of three years ago, more so since he’s come back from Lanzarote.”

Guscott, who was out of the game for a year with groin trouble, said: “I think it’s more to do with anticipation of the Five Nations Championship and the adrenalin starting to flow.”

Bath were leading only 12-6 when that particular chance went begging but skipper John Hall insisted that the prospect of defeat never entered his mind.

Callard had opened the scoring in the very first minute but, incredibly, missed another penalty from just 15 metres out, directly in front of the posts.

Three more successful kicks, to one from Paul Grayson, made it 12-3 at half-time in a dull, penalty-ridden game.

Talk among the fans of 30 or 40-point winning margins quickly subsided in the evidence of tenacious Northampton defence, both wide out and in close-quarters.

Locks Gavin Webster and Jon Phillips worked manfully but Bath, with Andy Robinson, Martin Haag and Phil de Glanville seemingly involved in every movement, stoked up the pressure.

Somehow, though, it lacked the customary conviction and Hall’s suggestion that everyone was suffering from a hangover after the previous weekend’s emotional high at Bristol seemed entirely valid.

Grayson’s second penalty was quickly followed by Guscott’s bloomer and Callard hitting the post from just 18 metres.

Not for the first time, the ageless Swift eased the nerves by appearing on the `wrong’ wing outside Haag and de Glanville to score in the corner. Perversely, Callard converted from touch.

The gloss was applied by Geoghegan, latching on to an overhead pass by scrum-half Marcus Olsen who had broken quickly from a tapped penalty. The Ireland wing left Nick Beal for dead in dazzling fashion and Callard converted again.


BATH FORM: half-throttle

SCORERS: 1 min – Callard pen, 3-nil; 14 mins – Callard pen, 6-nil; 24 mins – Callard pen, 9-nil; 36 mins – Grayson pen, 9-3; 40 mins – Callard pen, 12-3 (H-T); 52 mins – Grayson pen, 12-6; 68 mins – Swift try, Callard conv, 19-6; 72 mins – Geoghegan try, Callard conv, 26-6.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Geoghegan; Butland, Olsen; Hilton, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Ojomoh, Hall.

NORTHAMPTON: Beal; Thorneycroft, Packman, Allen, Moir; Grayson, Dawson; Hynes, Clarke (rep Volland, 58 mins), Lewis, Webster, Phillips, Cassell, Seely, Pountney.

REFEREE: David Leslie (Scotland RFU).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast, dry; pitch – good.



v Gloucester, Home. Drawn 19-19. Team:- Callard (T, 1c & 4p), Swift, de Glanville (Capt), Catt, Adebayo, Butland, Sanders, Clark, Dawe, Ubogu, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Ojomoh, Clarke.  Replacements – Johnson replaced Butland (24 mins), Adams, Yates  Ref – N Cousins. Ground – Sticky. Weather – Fine

Once again, Bath did not manage to get going until the last 20 minutes. Gloucester played a fiery and committed game and could well go away feeling robbed. The entertainment of playing Butland at stand off and Catt in the centre went awry when Butland went off injured. Callard had an almost impeccable game, scoring all of Bath’s points. The referee (Robin Cousin’s brother!) had a pretty good and unobtrusive game. However, Leicester won, so we are now only two points in front.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH players continue to grab headlines in international rugby but there’s little to celebrate back home at the Recreation Ground these days.

While Eric Peters and Dave Hilton, of Scotland, not to mention Ireland’s Simon Geoghegan, made their mark with tries in the Five Nations championship, their clubmates dropped another precious Courage League point.

It might easily have been two but for another late effort from Jon Callard, who converted his own 73rd minute try to finish with all 19 points.

The uncomfortable fact is that the leaders’ hold on the league title is looking distinctly shaky despite the two-point lead.

With visits to Wasps and Leicester looming, it will take another extraordinary display of collective will to capture the championship for a fifth year in a row.

But if any side can do it, it’s Bath and Callard fiercely rejects any suggestion that he or his teammates lack for the hunger or commitment to pull it off.

“The players have had a hard slog but we know better than anyone that we have very high standards to follow,” said the full-back. “The trouble is that when things don’t go well some people jump on our backs.

“But we are still winning – or drawing. I know it’s not good enough but the pressure is immense, even more so these days with international and World Cup demands.

“This last week we have had training sessions on with Bath on Monday, Wednesday with England and again here on Thursday – and this is supposed to be an amateur game.

“I’d be very disappointed if anybody questions our commitment. If things don’t go right out on the pitch so be it, but it’s certainly not through lack of commitment.”

Things are not going right for Bath at the moment and Gloucester exploited one weakness in particular – the line-out.

From the very first minute when 6ft 9in Richard West made a clean catch and drove 20 metres into the home 22, Bath struggled for possession.

For all the agility of Martin Haag and Nigel Redman, they faced an unequal task against West and 6ft 7in David Sims so that Bath won four line-out throws all afternoon to 20 by Gloucester.

Bath started slowly, falling behind to a third-minute dropped goal by Martyn Kimber and looking uncharacteristically panicky in defence. Nevertheless, Callard’s right boot edged them into a 9-6 lead on 33 minutes.

By that time, the experimental selection of Richard Butland at fly-half had already been ended by concussion, requiring Mike Catt to revert to fly-half and Adedayo Adebayo to switch from wing to centre.

Replacement Simon Johnson then had to pull off a last-ditch tackle on Paul Holford but the right wing was denied his try for just the couple of minutes it took to settle a five-metre scrum.

When the ball was worked across field, Tim Smith came into the line and Holford burst through without a hand being laid on him. Lee Osborne converted there was still time for Kimber to land drop another goal after Catt had a clearance charged down.

Bath, pride stung by the 9-16 half-time scoreline, responded fiercely but the only reward was a Callard penalty as Gloucester killed yet another loose ball.

Chief culprit was veteran No 8 Mike Teague who had had a big first half but was increasingly eclipsed by Ben Clarke. The England man’s driving play was almost frightening in its intensity.

After a second penalty by Osborne restored the seven-point lead, Bath attacked with frantic purpose, yet clear-cut openings were all too rare.

Just when it seemed that all was lost, Catt suddenly accelerated through a clutch of exhausted forwards and found Callard on his elbow for the try.


BATH FORM: lucky

SCORERS: 3 mins – Kimber drop goal, nil-3; 8 mins – Callard pen, 3-3; 11 mins – Osborne pen, 3-6; 13 mins – Callard pen, 6-6; 33 mins – Callard pen, 9-6; 37 mins – Holford try, Osborne conv, 9-13; 42 mins – Kimber drop goal, 9-16 (H-T); 48 mins – Callard pen, 12-16; 54 mins – Osborne pen, 12-19; 73 mins – Callard pen & conv, 19-19.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Catt, Adebayo; Butland (rep Johnson, 29 mins), Sanders; Clark, Dawe, Ubogu, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Clarke, Ojomoh.

GLOUCESTER: T Smith; Holford, Osborne, Caskie, Morris; Kimber, Fenley; Powles, Hawker, Deacon, Sims, West, Glanville, Teague, I Smith.

REFEREE: Nick Cousins (London Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – dry, cold; pitch – tacky.



v Orrell, Home. Drawn 5-5. Team:- Lumsden, Timmington, Rayner, Webber, Woodman (T), Long, Sanders, Yates, McCarthy, Crompton, Gillies, McCoy, Nicholas, Pearce, Maslen.  Replacements – Hirons, Bamsey, Willcox   Ref – P Facey. Ground – Soaked. Weather – Appalling

This hastily arranged game meant that Bath were playing Orrell for the fourth time this season. The ‘youngsters’ made a great game of it and fought to keep Bath’s unbeaten record against a much stronger Orrell team, containing a lot of their first team. The pack were most impressive, with Yates, McCarthy and Pearce standing out. Long had an awful game with the boot in the unexpected position for him of fly half.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

HISTORY suggests that nothing lasts forever but after performing like this it is hard to imagine anyone supplanting Bath as power brokers of English rugby.

The quality and maturity of the young players who successfully defended a remarkable unbeaten record against all odds was staggering or, depending on your viewpoint, frightening.

Orrell fielded no fewer than 10 Courage League regulars, which was 10 more than Bath could manage. A first defeat of the season for the champions, surely…

Fat chance. With the old warhorse, Nick Maslen, in typically cussed mood and Ian Sanders enjoying one of his better afternoons at scrum-half, what little experience they were able to muster did not go to waste.

Alongside the sweats, the greenhorns performed at a level way beyond anything the Recreation Ground supporters had a right to expect.

Ed Pearce looked full of purpose at blindside. His explosive drive in the opening minute put Stuart Hayter off for good – while the front row of Kevin Yates, Neil McCarthy and Darren Crompton more than coped with an Orrell tight five who had asked so many awkward questions of Bath’s first team in both cup and league.

Had Haydn Long kicked his goals – and the slightly built Australian missed all four of his opportunities – Bath would certainly have triumphed. The fact that they did not gave Maslen the excuse to stop short of outright jubilation.

“I didn’t want to be the man who let the unbeaten record slip and I told the team that in the dressing room,” he said. “I felt we were capable of winning the game, irrespective of the strong Orrell side, and we should have done.

“Mind you, I’m proud of the way we played in difficult conditions. There were times when I thought Orrell were going to crack and had our finishing been a touch more clinical, we’d have got there.”

While Pearce made the early impact, it was the front row trio who left the lasting impression. Yates, all power and body angles, repeatedly gave his fellow forwards a target to hit while McCarthy and Crompton mauled and tackled magnificently.

The Bath try came on 19 minutes. Dave Timmington hurtled up the middle. Ed Rayner rescued the ball on the floor and Mark Woodman finished things off with pace and confidence wide out on the left.

Other chances went begging though, particularly when Yates lost possession in a last-ditch tackle by Austin Healey 12 minutes after the break.

Three minutes later Orrell were level. Phil Winstanley rolled a maul into the Bath 22 and despite some rotten passing, Gerry Ainscough finally made a four-on-one overlap count to splash down.

SCORERS: 19 mins – Woodman try, 5-nil; 55 mins – Ainscough try, 5-5.

BATH: Lumsden; Timmington, Rayner, Webber, Woodman; Long, Sanders; Yates, McCarthy, Crompton, Gillies, McCoy, Nicholas, Maslen, Pearce.

ORRELL: Taberner; Naylor, Ainscough, Farr (rep Peacock, 27 mins), Horrocks; Hamer, Healey; Russell, Scott, Cundick, Brierley, Cooper, Parr, Bibby, Hayter (rep Winstanley, 1 min).



v Cardiff, Away. Lost 24-34. Team:- Lumsden (T), Lloyd, Rayner, Webber, Timmington (T), Long, Sanders (T), Yates (T), Adams, Crompton, Heal, McCoy, Robinson, Nicholas, Maslen.  Replacements – Morris (2c) replaced Long at half time, Hirons  Ground – Good. Weather – Cool & breezy

At last the 12 month unbeaten record has gone. Not surprisingly, as Cardiff put out a very strong team and their backs were most impressive. Our young pack did well, though. Long had a nightmare game and was replaced at half time by Alex Morris (never seen him before!), who immediately got the game going and the second half was much better for Bath. They finished strongly, but had been shown a lesson or two by the Cardiff boys.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH finally surrendered their 13-month unbeaten record but may have unearthed another uncut gem in teenage fly-half Alex Morris.

There was never any real prospect of victory once Cardiff had capitalised on a series of defensive lapses to build up a 29-nil lead.

Conceding five tries without reply in such a daunting setting as the Arms Park would have led most sides to throw in the towel.

But after Morris came on for the injured and disillusioned Haydn Long at half-time, Bath were a different side.

Morris, a recruit from Clifton’s successful junior section last year, made a telling contribution as the visitors replied with four tries themselves.

Most impressive was Morris’s finger-tip distribution and, although still a colt, he was not afraid to take on the opposition back row.

“It’s just a shame my family weren’t here to see my debut,” he said. “They’ve gone off to France for a break.

“I was nervous at first but I think I did all right. The other lads said ‘Well done,’ and I was quite pleased with my handling.”

Quite what would have happened if Morris had been selected in the first place is impossible to say but the decision to stick with a half-fit Long was clearly a mistake.

Cardiff’s hard-running forwards made a bee-line for the slight young Australian at every opportunity and, once behind the defence, they had class finishers like international wing Steve Ford to apply the killer blow.

He waltzed inside Audley Lumsden after just five minutes and a second try went to centre Colin Laity after a defensive mix-up. Others followed for fly-half Simon Davies, flanker Vince Davies and, soon after the interval, for the speedy Jonathan Westwood.

But Bath had continued to scrummage well, skipper Andy Robinson made sure the Cardiff were not given too much latitude on the fringes and there was no sign of heads dropping.

With Morris’s arrival, they began to use the bulk of Mike Lloyd more effectively on the right but it was left wing Mike Timmington who scored their first try after good work by centre Andy Webber.

Cardiff made the game safe through Simon Davies but Bath’s remarkable young loosehead Kevin Yates burrowed over in reply and Lumsden and Ian Sanders scored late tries to round off a defiant second-half display.

SCORERS: 5 mins – Ford try, 5-nil; 22 mins – Laity try, Simon Davies conv, 12-nil; 29 mins – Simon Davies try and conv, 19-nil; 34 mins – Vince Davies try, 24-nil (H-T); 51 mins – Westwood try, 29-nil; 55 mins – Timmington try, Morris conv, 29-7; 59 mins – Simon Davies try, 34-7; 63 mins – Yates try, 34-12; 73 mins – Lumsden try, 34-17; 80 mins – Sanders try, Morris conv, 34-24.

CARDIFF: John (rep Wintle, 19 mins); Westwood (rep Ring, 67 mins), Palfrey, Laity, Ford; Simon Davies, Booth (rep Baber, 51 mins); Joseph, Bevan, Sedgemore, Wakeford, Roy, Vince Davies, Jones, Budd (rep Merritt, 55 mins).

BATH: Lumsden; Lloyd, Rayner, Webber, Timmington; Long (rep Morris, 40 mins), Sanders; Yates, Adams, Crompton, Heal, McCoy, Robinson, Maslen, Nicholas.

REFEREE: Alun Ware (Port Talbot).



v The Army, Home. Lost 5-29. Team:- Lumsden, Lloyd (T), Bamsey, Rayner, Timmington, Morris, Hirons, Clark, McCarthy, D Crompton, McCoy, Matthews, W Crompton, Nicholas, Maslen (Capt).  Replacements – Crane  Ground – Good. Weather – Fine

So, the second time we have been beaten in a row and the first time on the Rec for 13 months. This was a very good Army side, fast and with some very slick handling, they proved far to good for this scratch United/Spartans posing as the First Team. Mostly we were extremely inept, with some dire handling and kicking. Only Lumsden, Nicholas, McCoy and Morris came out with some credit.



v Wasps, Away. Lost 10-11. Team:- Callard (1c & 1p), Sleightholme, de Glanville (Capt), Catt, Geoghegan, Butland (T), Sanders, Yates, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Peters, Clarke.  Replacements – Johnson, McCarthy, Crompton  Ref – J Pearson. Ground – Good. Weather – Fine but windy

So now we have lost a league game – the first since November 1993. This now puts us in second place behind Leicester. The game could easily have gone either way, but Wasps, especially Andrew, used the wind more cleverly than we did. Nice to see Butland score his first league try. The young front row stood up very well against their more experienced opponents. Guscott and Ubogu were in Hong Kong!

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH’S task over the next month is straightforward, but hardly simple.

“We have five games – and we have to win them all,” said second row Martin Haag almost matter-of-factly.

Defeat at Wasps leaves Bath trailing new Courage League leaders Leicester on points difference and the return match with the Tigers on April 16 is a `cup final’ all of its own.

Whoever wins that game will undoubtedly lift the title.

Bath’s last league visit to Welford Road, in November 1993, ended in defeat, a bitter experience which they were not to experience again until last Saturday.

On the evidence of the performance at Sudbury, Bath have their work cut out, not forgetting that they also have league fixtures at home to West Hartlepool and Sale and away to Harlequins.

Certainly, they need the reassuringly muscular presence of skipper John Hall to steer them through and on Saturday he was missed more than Victor Ubogu, Dave Hilton, Graham Dawe, Jeremy Guscott or Tony Swift.

The only consolation was that the champions performed rather better against Wasps than in the previous games against Orrell and Gloucester, both drawn.

Coach Brian Ashton had particular words of praise for youngsters like fly-half Richard Butland and loosehead prop Kevin Yates.

“The younger players in the side actually came out with a bit of credit, if there’s any credit to be gained from losing. They grew in stature,” he added.

Bath’s try went to Butland during a second-half rally inspired as much as anything by the pace and incisiveness of Mike Catt’s running from centre.

In fact he looked far happier there than at fly-half and that lesson may yet lead to a wholesale reorganisation behind the scrum.

Butland’s score, pouncing on a deflected pass from Ian Sanders on the hour, was converted by Jon Callard who had earlier begun the Bath revival with a penalty.

With 13 minutes left, the full-back had a chance to put his side ahead for the first time but his wind-assisted effort from half-way sailed to the right of the posts.

For the last few minutes, Wasps were content to hold the ball and play out time with a single-mindedness that Bath would have admired.

They also had the edge in the back row where Lawrence Dallaglio, Buster White and Dean Ryan stole a surprising amount of possession and generally prevented Bath from recycling the ball quickly.

It has to be said too that the opposition combination of Andy Robinson, Ben Clarke and Eric Peters, playing together for the first time, lacked that essential cohesion.

No-one was denying Wasps’ right to the points because they should have been out of sight by half-time, notwithstanding the very considerable doubts about Matt Greenwood’s try just before the interval.

All they had had to show for their efforts at that stage was an Andrew penalty, but prop Paddy Dunston made a charge for the line and when the ball spilled from his grasp, Greenwood touched down.

Andrew missed the conversion but landed a penalty into the wind soon after the break to establish an 11-nil lead that for once proved too much for Bath’s powers of recovery.


BATH FORM: vulnerable

SCORERS: 20 mins – Andrew pen, 3-nil; 37 mins – Greenwood try, 8-nil (H-T); 44 mins – Andrew pen, 11-nil; 47 mins – Callard pen, 11-3; 60 mins – Butland try, Callard conv, 11-10.

WASPS: Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, Childs, Roiser; Andrew, Bates; Popplewell, Dunn, Dunston, Greenwood, Hadley, Dallaglio, Ryan, White.

BATH: Callard; Geoghegan, de Glanville, Catt, Sleightholme; Butland, Sanders; Yates, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Peters, Clarke, Robinson.

REFEREE: John Pearson (Durham Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – fine, windy; pitch – firm.



v Harlequins, Away. Won 31-13. Team:- Callard (2c & 3p), Swift (Tx2), de Glanville (T), Guscott, Sleightholme, Catt (1dg), Sanders, Yates, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Olsen, Adams, Ubogu, Butland replaced Catt (65 mins), Lumsden, McCoy  Ref – B Campsall. Ground – Perfect. Weather – Sunny and warm

At last!! Bath played like we knew they could. A great cup tie in front of a packed house and a splendid result set up a Final against Wasps. Marvellous to see Swift back and he got two great tries. Callard immaculate again, Ojomoh much improved, Catt and de Glanville great. Young front row had a good game against the experienced Quins. Sleightholme does not seem to be in the groove yet.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

TONY Swift, the greatest finisher in the history of English cup rugby is adamant. His career will end at Twickenham on May 6.

Catch a glimpse of him while you can. For wit, brains and sheer rugby craftstmanship, no wing in the country can hold a candle to Bath’s most reliable try scorer.

There were two more gems for the scrapbook on Saturday as the champions eased past Harlequins with a semi-final performance that at times bordered on the majestic.

The first was an absolute belter, Swift motoring off his wing to take Mike Catt’s inside pass at the sort of angle that could only have been calculated with a slide rule.

Jeremy Guscott’s booming kick into space then gave him the chance to emulate last season’s double strike against the self same last-four opponents. How Quins must hate the sight of the man.

Plenty more gas in the tank, according to that evidence. Well, not as far as Swift is concerned.

“I think I’ve got about four or five games left – my father may have plans for me to play until I’m 40 but I certainly haven’t,” he said.

“After scoring two tries in last season’s semi-final and then another in the final, I thought I had another year left in me. I’m not going to make the same mistake again.

“This is definitely the swansong. I’m still fairly sharp over the first 20 yards but I can’t be as quick as I was 15 years ago.

“The important thing is to be in the final once again. The semis are such important games because there are 20,000 people back in Bath looking forward to their day out at Twickenham.”

Bath will miss every last ounce of Tony Swift, just as they will miss the implacable will to win embodied by captain John Hall.

But what young talent they have at their disposal. Take Kevin Yates, the rookiest of rookie props, as the very latest example.

Pitched into an ultra-serious confrontation with an all-international front row, Yates was a revelation. His calm appraisal of the conflict said much about Bath’s own special brand of confidence.

“Jason Leonard seemed a solid lad, Brian Moore fidgeted around all match and Andy Mullins just kept boring in on the tighthead,” he said. “It was run of the mill stuff.”

There was nothing run of the mill about some of Bath’s rugby. Martin Haag turned in a superb display at the front of the line-out while Steve Ojomoh recovered from a couple of early defensive blunders to run riot after the break.

And then there was Mike Catt, the classiest performer on the park. If anyone doubted his ability to dominate a big game from fly-half, they can start eating their words.

Catt was probably the difference between the two sides early on as Rory Jenkins and Chris Sheasby threw down the gauntlet to the Bath pack.

Indeed, had Jim Staples shown the same killer instinct with his goalkicking as he had in scoring a fine try in the left corner, the game might well have been much closer.

But Catt created a glorious try for Phil de Glanville on 16 minutes and proceeded to ask awkward questions of the Quins back row throughout a compelling first half.

Jon Callard’s second penalty put Bath 13-8 up at the break and in the 23 second-half minutes that Catt lasted, he put Swift away for the killer score and then dropped an imperious goal to leave Quins floundering.


BATH FORM: outstanding

SCORERS: 2 mins – Callard pen, nil-3; 4 mins – Staples try, 5-3; 16 mins – de Glanville try, Callard pen, 5-10; 30 mins – Staples pen, 8-10; 41 mins – Callard pen, 8-13 (H-T); 45 mins – Callard pen, 8-16; 50 mins – Swift try, Callard conv, 8-23; 57 mins – Catt dropped goal, 8-26; 70 mins – Swift try, 8-31; 77 mins – Challinor try, 13-31.

HARLEQUINS: Staples (rep Challinor); Mensah, Carling, Greenwood, Bromley; Pears, Kitchin; Leonard, Moore, Mullins, Snow, Thresher, Watson, Sheasby, Jenkins.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Sleightholme; Catt, Sanders; Yates, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Clarke, Hall.

REFEREE: Brian Campsall (Yorkshire Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – sunny; pitch – firm.



v West Hartlepool, Home. Won 53-17. Team:- Lumsden (Tx2), Swift, de Glanville (T), Adebayo (Tx2), Sleightholme, Butland (6c & 2p), Sanders, Yates, Adams (T), Obogu (T), Haag, Redman, Robinson, Pearce, Hall.  Replacements – Johnson, McCarthy, Crompton  Ref – A Rowden. Ground – Good. Weather – Perfect

What a game! Today Bath were back to their best and played glorious running rugby, with seven tries. Owing to England requirements, we were forced to play a lot of our ‘second string’ and they really came into their own, with Rich Butland coming of age to no mean tune. Robinson also magnificent. The game only marred by some appalling refereeing. This now puts us top of the league. On to Leicester next week.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

THE champions are back on top of the Courage League and the stage could not be better set for their showdown with Leicester on Saturday.

Seven tries against West Hartlepool – it should have been rather more – lifted Bath above the Tigers on points difference to establish a small but significant psychological advantage.

And all this was achieved without eight of their World Cup contingent, including Ireland wing Simon Geoghegan, which again suggests that Bath are rebuilding astutely.

Among the newcomers who caught the eye was 23-year-old fly-half, Richard Butland, who kicked eight out of 11 attempts for an 18-point haul.

His skipper John Hall ventured: “I knew he could kick but he revealed a dimension I hadn’t seen before – coolness and a turn of pace. He has the potential to go a long, long way.”

So don’t be surprised if Butland wears the No 10 shirt at Welford Road next weekend.

Mike Catt, fly-half for Bath but full-back for England, is comfortably the most dangerous runner in the country at the moment and he may again be switched to centre in the continuing absence on business of Jeremy Guscott.

It’s an open secret that Catt will be switching to full-back at the Rec next season and Butland glimpses an opportunity, notwithstanding the likely arrival of Mark Mapletoft, from Gloucester, as a rival fly-half.

Butland’s sights are set higher than merely holding down a first team place at Bath, however.

“The place to be if you want to play for England, is Bath,” he said. “I’ve got to take a realistic attitude. All I can do is try and if I play well enough and they want to pick me that’s fine by me.

“If they don’t think I’m good enough, so be it. I’ll have done my best.”

Butland had four strikes at goal in the opening 11 minutes, succeeding with two and hitting the post with another. The one he missed was from nearly 50 metres.

But it was the other aspects of his game that impressed too, 50-metre kicks rolling into touch, fierce tackling that belied his slight frame and a neat little break that produced a try for Phil de Glanville.

Bath’s first try came immediately after Butland’s second penalty. Nigel Redman gathered the restart and Ian Sanders hoisted a box-kick which was tapped back by de Glanville and gathered at full-stretch by Andy Robinson.

Butland, Adedayo Adebayo and Jon Sleightholme then put Audley Lumsden away for a marvellous score that set the tone for an afternoon of scintillating rugby.

West Hartlepool’s inability to find touch had disastrous consequences as they found themselves quickly conceding two tries to go 25-nil down in 24 minutes.

Both involved loose kicks to Lumsden. The first went to Adebayo after an exquisite change of pace by de Glanville with Robinson providing the scoring pass.

The second fell to hooker Gareth Adams after Lumsden, looking more like his old self, ghosted through half the West Hartlepool side.

West, fearful of dropping straight back into the Second Division,

rallied after the break, encouraged by Bath’s old vice of giving away penalties by the barrowload.

Scrum-half Steve Cook skipped around the blindside for a try, proving a little too quick for Hall appearing at No 8 to accommodate teenage flanker Ed Pearce.

De Glanville replied with Bath’s fourth try but a string of penalties against the home side resulted in centre Tony Elwine crossing on the left.

However, Ubogu barrelled over at the other end and a well-executed double scissors move sent Sleightholme through a gap to create a further score for Lumsden.

Still West would not lie down and flanker Alan Brown grabbed their third before Adebayo latched on to a kick-ahead and Butland landed his sixth conversion to end a riot of scoring.


BATH FORM: expansive.

SCORERS: 5 mins – Butland pen, 3-nil; 11 mins – Butland pen, 6-nil; 12 mins – Lumsden try, Butland conv, 13-nil; 20 mins – Adebayo try, 18-nil; 24 mins – Adams try, Butland conv, 25-nil; H-T – 25-nil; 46 mins – Cook try, 25-5; 49 mins – de Glanville try, Butland conv, 32-5; 54 mins – Elwine try, Oliphant conv, 32-12; 56 mins – Ubogu try, Butland conv, 39-12; 60 mins – Lumsden try, Butland conv, 46-12; 73 mins – Brown try, 46-17; 76 mins – Adebayo try, Butland conv, 53-17.

BATH: Lumsden; Swift, de Glanville, Adebayo, Sleightholme; Butland, Sanders; Yates, Adams, Ubogu, Haag, Redman, Pearce, Hall, Robinson.

WEST HARTLEPOOL: Oliphant; O Evans, Elwine, Hodder, Jones; Parker, Cook; Lancaster, Herbert, Beal, Dixon, Westgarth, P Evans, Jaques, Brown.

REFEREE: Ashley Rowden (Berkshire).

CONDITIONS: weather – sunny; pitch – hard.



v Leicester, Away. Lost 21-31. Team:- Callard (1c & 3p), Swift, de Glanville, Catt (T), Adebayo (T), Butland, Sanders, Ubogu, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Hall, Clarke.  Replacements – Olsen, McCarthy, Crompton  Ref – S Piercy. Ground – Good. Weather – Overcast

This was the game that probably decided the league. We will wait and see. On the day. The Tigers were tigerish in the extreme and Bath never came to terms with the referee – the one who did Dawe for ‘intent’ at Bristol. Ubogu was hyped up beyond measure. However, the only good stuff behind the scrum came from us. I am glad we are not playing them in the Cup – I think they are a boring bunch.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH have surrendered three points out of four to the Tigers this season – and most probably the Courage League championship too.

No-one is publicly conceding anything yet, especially as Leicester have to negotiate a tricky trip to Sale next weekend.

But it’s out of Bath’s hands. All they can do is win their remaining fixtures at Harlequins and at home to Sale and hope the new leaders slip up.

Many will see the shift of power in English rugby as a welcome release from the Bath stranglehold that has seen them win the league in each of the last four seasons.

Yet the manner of the Leicester victory suggests that, for all the power and passion, they really have little to offer in expanding the game’s horizons. Effective? Yes. Pretty? No.

Bath at least scored two stunning tries through Adedayo Adebayo and Mike Catt. All the home points came from kicks until injury time when England wing Rory Underwood received his first pass in a threatening position.

Unfortunately for Bath it came courtesy of their own hooker, Gareth Adams, trying to launch an attack from his own line “quarterback-style” at 24-21 when desperate measures were called for.

“Rory certainly wasn’t going to get a pass from his own side,” was the wry observation from Bath coach Brian Ashton.

Skipper John Hall swallowed hard and said: “We are naturally very disappointed. But all credit to Leicester, they have my congratulations.

“Their kicking was spot-on today and against a side like that you can’t afford to give away penalties as we did in the first half.

“We did make a lot of mistakes. Their lineout, especially in the first half was outstanding. We took our time to adapt and were punished for it.”

But he was angered by Stuart Piercy’s decision to award two of those penalties against Bath for lowering the scrum on their own put-in.

“One thing Bath do not do is give away penalties in that sort of situation. Those decisions were very, very strange but that’s no slight on Leicester, They deserved their victory.”

Again it was the sheer muscle power of the home front five that denied Bath any continuity of possession for the first hour.

Second row Matt Poole had his best game yet for the Tigers and with England lock Martin Johnson controlled not only the line-out but the restarts too.

In fact it was Poole who created Leicester’s one worthwhile chance, latching on to a loose line-out tap early in the second half to charge 40 metres down the touchline.

Although brought down just short of the line, the ball was worked right only for Stuart Potter to die with the ball in Catt’s tackle.

Even the fanatical Leicester supporters in the 14,000 crowd winced at the depressing lack of wit, craft or vision behind the scrum. It was a good job their forwards had the measure of the Bath pack.

Aside from arguments over scrum infringements, there was really no answer to the combination of total commitment in the tight, fierce driving and the dead-eye kicking of John Liley and Jez Harris.

Liley landed five penalties and converted Underwood’s gift try while Harris dropped a hat-trick of goals.

The Bath tries were scant consolation. They were 21-9 down when Catt’s long pass out of a tackle allowed Adebayo to wriggle free from Richie Robinson’s tackle on 65 minutes.

The second, seven minutes later, was a gem. Phil de Glanville scythed through and unloaded to Swift whose pass inside was scooped off the deck by Catt for the score.


BATH FORM: second best

SCORERS: 15 mins – Callard pen, nil-3; 19 mins – Liley pen, 3-3; 24 mins – Liley pen, 6-3; 26 mins – Harris drop goal, 9-3; 31 mins – Liley pen, 12-3; 33 mins – Callard pen, 12-6; 38 mins – Liley pen, 15-6; 42 mins – Liley pen, 18-6 (H-T); 52 mins – Callard pen, 18-9; 59 mins – Harris drop goal, 21-9; 65 mins – Adebayo try, 21-14; 71 mins – Harris drop goal, 24-14; 72 mins – Catt try, Callard conv, 24-21; 81 mins – Rory Underwood try, Liley conv, 31-21.

BATH: Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Catt, Adebayo; Butland, Sanders; Ubogu, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Hall, Clarke, Ojomoh.

LEICESTER: Liley; T Underwood, Robinson, Potter, R Underwood; Harris, Kardooni; Rowntree, Cockerill, Garforth, Johnson, Poole, Wells, Richards, Back.

REFEREE: Stuart Piercy (Yorkshire).

CONDITIONS: weather – overcast; pitch – hard.




v Harlequins, Away. Won 25-19. Team:- Lumsden, Swift, Adebayo, Guscott (T), Sleightholme (T), Butland (2c & 2p), Sanders, Yates (T), Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Ojomoh.  Replacements –

Ref – D Leslie. Ground – Good. Weather – Cloudy

A family wedding kept me away from a game for the first time this season. By all accounts, this was a terrible performance – the first half being positively embarrassing. The only players to come out with any credit were apparently Yates, Sanders and the always-excellent Robinson.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH have given up hope of winning the Courage League for the fifth year in succession, helping Quins into the Second Division might be some consolation.

Yet for all but eight of the 80 minutes Bath looked more like relegation candidates than the home side did.

Coach Brian Ashton did not mince words: “We were appalling in the first half – the worst in the five years I have been involved with the club.”

But the purple patch, short and sweet, yielded quickfire tries by Jeremy Guscott, Kevin Yates and Jon Sleightholme which transformed a 19-3 half-time deficit into a 22-19 lead.

Quins attempted to rally but Bath rubbed it in with a late penalty for fly-half Richard Butland.

As if that was not bad enough for the home club, news came through of Northampton’s victory over Wasps and West Hartlepool’s shock win at Bristol.

If rugby’s faded aristocrats lose at Gloucester on Saturday and Northampton continue their revival at West Hartlepool, even to the extent of a draw, Quins will go down.

Former Gloucester coach Keith Richardson has a sense of humour keen enough to appreciate the irony of his return to Kingsholm in such circumstances.

“Everyone wants us to go down – because we are different,” he said. “I know the Gloucester lads – they know me. That’s half the trouble. Of course, they’d love to send us down.”

A grim-faced Dick Best, Quins’ director of coaching, did not seem to share the gallows humour.

Second Division rugby seemed a very remote prospect as the home side tore into the outgoing champions in the first half.

Fly-half Paul Challinor gave them a third-minute lead with a 40-metre penalty and then proceeded to punish a string of Bath errors by hoisting long downfield kicks on the stiff breeze.

On the quarter hour, busy No 8 Chris Sheasby charged down a Richard Butland kick, collected the favourable bounce and raced 50 metres to touch down in the corner.

Butland made amends with a penalty but another accurate hoisted kick by Challinor had the Bath defence in a panic and centre Will Greenwood crossed in the righthand corner on 30 minutes.

Two more penalties by Challinor made it 19-3 at half-time and apparently had Leicester players popping champagne corks at Sale, where they had kicked off early.

Harsh words during the interval galvanised Bath but it was another 15 minutes before Guscott cruised over unopposed from fourth-phase possession, Butland adding the conversion.

The second try followed almost immediately, loosehead prop Yates showing remarkable pace over 20 metres to accelerate through a gap and make the corner.

On 63 minutes, No 8 Steve Ojomoh surged away from a scrum, flattened Jim Staples and found Andy Robinson in support. His deft pass sent left wing Sleightholme away for the try and Butland’s conversion from the touchline capped a remarkable spell of 19 points in eight minutes.

Desperate Quins battered away at the other end but a long Guscott clearance set up the position from which Butland kicked the clinching penalty.


BATH FORM: erratic

SCORERS: 3 mins – Challinor pen, 3-nil; 15 mins – Sheasby try, 8-nil; 23 mins – Butland pen, 8-3; 30 mins – Greenwood try, 13-3; 34 mins – Challinor pen, 16-3; 40 mins – Challinor pen, 19-3 (H-T); 55 mins – Guscott try, Butland conv, 19-10; 58 mins – Yates try, 19-15; 63 mins – Sleightholme try, Butland conv, 22-19; 79 mins – Butland pen, 25-19.

HARLEQUINS: Staples; Henderson, Greenwood, Mensah, Bromley; Challinor, Kitchin; Brown, Hamilton-Smith, Mullins, Snow, Thresher, Watson, Sheasby, Jenkins.

BATH: Lumdsden; Swift, Adebayo, Guscott, Sleightholme; Butland, Sanders; Yates, Adams, Mallett, Haag, Redman, Hall, Ojomoh, Robinson.

REFEREE: Andy Leslie (Manchester Soc).

CONDITIONS: weather – fine; pitch – firm.



v Sale, Home. Lost 13-18. Team:- Callard (1c & 2p), Swift, Adebayo, Guscott, Sleightholme, Butland, Sanders, Yates, Dawe, Crompton, Haag, Redman, Robinson, Hall, Clarke.

Replacements – Olsen, Adams replaced Hall (25 mins), McCarthy  Bath awarded a penalty try  Ref – E Morrison. Ground – Good. Weather – Damp

So – beaten on the Rec for the first time since Wasps a few years back. And we thoroughly deserved it too. A really inept and depressing display, particularly since this was the last home game for Hall and Swift. The ‘stars’ seemed to have their thoughts elsewhere – either on the Cup next week of on South Africa – they certainly didn’t seem to be concentrating in this one. Only one or two of the younger players came out with any credit – Butland and Yates for example.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

BATH have been wobbling on their perch all season. Now they’ve fallen off with a bump.

This time last year the Recreation Ground was basking in a fourth successive Courage League triumph while Sale were only climbing out of the Second Division.

The tables have turned with a vengeance and nobody at Bath was denying the newcomers’ right to be the first side to win a league match on the Rec since Wasps in 1991.

But it was a cruel way for skipper John Hall and winger Tony Swift to say goodbye to the home fans before retirement.

Especially for Hall – the greatest player that Bath has produced in this or any other era.

He trudged off after 34 minutes, nursing a badly bruised shoulder, and the pain was more than purely physical.

“I got banged on the point of the shoulder and didn’t think it was too bad at first,” said Hall. “But it just got worse and worse.

“I wasn’t contributing to the game. Every time I tried to bring my arm up above my shoulder I started getting shooting pains. You can’t play like that.

“I was immensely disappointed. I had to go off – and we lost. We knew the league was probably out of our grasp but that’s no excuse.

“Next Saturday at Twickenham we’ll make sure we’re really fired up.”

Coach Brian Ashton conceded that players’ minds seemed to be on other things for all but 15 minutes of the game – but whether on Twickenham or the World Cup he couldn’t say.

The first score was certainly a gift. Jeremy Guscott flipped a pass high over Swift’s head and Sale were quickly in behind the defence to create a 17th minute try for lock Dave Baldwin.

Although Martin Haag won some ball at the front, the line-out was depressingly unproductive and a loose tap just before half-time led to a penalty kicked by fly-half Rob Liley.

That left the outgoing champions 8-nil down at the interval and their main hope seemed to be in counter-attacks. From the set-piece they plainly missed the cutting edge of Mike Catt and Phil de Glanville.

When Liley landed another penalty to make it 11-nil, Bath finally responded with a successful 30-metre kick from Jon Callard.

That had a remarkable galvanising effect and suddenly it was Sale who were on the back foot.

A ferocious driving maul from a line-out on the hour was illegally hauled down feet from the line and Bristol’s World Cup referee, Ed Morrison, gave the penalty try.

Callard’s conversion brought Bath to within one point and the full-back kicked an angled penalty on 70 minutes which gave them the lead, however undeserved.

Justice was done three minutes from time when a series of missed tackles allowed Sale to work an overlap on the right for Appleson, whose effort was converted by Liley.


BATH FORM: shocking

SCORERS: 17 mins – Baldwin try, nil-5; 40 mins – Liley pen, nil-8 (H-T); 54 mins – Liley pen, nil-11; 56 mins – Callard pen, 3-11; 61 mins – penalty try, Callard conv, 10-11; 70 mins – Callard pen, 13-11; 77 mins – Appleson try, Liley conv, 13-18.

BATH: Callard; Swift, Adebayo, Guscott, Sleightholme; Butland, Sanders; Yates, Dawe, Crompton, Haag, Redman, Hall (rep Adams, 34 mins), Clarke, Robinson.

SALE: Mallinder; Yates, Baxendell, Birt, Appleson; Liley, Saverimutto; P Smith, Diamond, A Smith, Fowler, Baldwin, Erskine, Vyvyan, Ashurst (rep O’Grady, 40 mins).

REFEREE: Ed Morrison (Bristol).

CONDITIONS: weather – drizzle; pitch – firm.



v Wasps, Pilkington Cup Final. Won 36-16. Team:- Callard (T, 4c & 1p), Swift (T), de Glanville (Capt), Guscott, Adebayo, Butland, Sanders, Yates, Adams, Ubogu, Haag (Tx2), Redman, Robinson, Ojomoh, Clarke (T).  Replacements – Olsen, Dawe, Mallett replaced Ubogu (70 mins), Sleightholme, Lumsden, McCoy  Ref – J Pearson. Ground – Perfect. Weather – Hot!!

This was one of the great Cup Finals. On a blisteringly hot day, Bath, following their disappointments with Hall and Catt being unfit, surprised everyone by picking Adams in place of Dawe. Butland came in at fly half and after a nervy start, looked one of the coolest players on the pitch. This was Swift’s last game for the club and he celebrated with a typical Swify try – all side step and swerve. Everyone played their guts out in the best display of the whole season. My men of the match were Robinson, de Glanville, Swift and Callard. The defence was outstanding in stemming the tide of Wasps who, in all honesty, did not deserve to lose by 20 points. A great day, and not even the sacking of Carling could divert the Bath supporters from the joy of their annual pilgrimage.

Kevin Coughlan Match Report – Bristol Evening Post

THE giant spectre of Will Carling may have overshadowed Bath’s latest Pilkington Cup triumph but for Phil de Glanville, everything was sweetness and light.

As the debate over the deposed England captain raged around the Twickenham stands, de Glanville settled one or two issues of his own with a typically assured midfield contribution.

For a start, he confirmed his captaincy credentials once and for all. An announcement from the Rec is imminent and he will be a worthy successor to John Hall, who missed the final through injury.

He also reminded England manager Jack Rowell that should Carling now crumble under the dead weight of controversy, there is another world class centre perfectly equipped to take South Africa by storm.

On a day when Carling’s judgement -or lack of it – had been called into question, de Glanville could hardly have been more statesmanlike.

At the final whistle he sought out Hall and insisted that he climb the West Stand steps to collect the trophy. It was the gesture of an outstanding sportsman.

“I told Phil he should go up, but he wasn’t having any of it,” said Hall. “It was a wonderful thing for him to have done and I thank him for it.

“Phil did one hell of a job out there. He was in a difficult situation and handled things magnificently.

“For my part, I was quiet all day. I never liked outsiders getting involved in the dressing room side of things when I was playing and I thought Phil would probably want to do it in his style, so I kept out of the way.”

De Glanville was not the only Bath man to seize the moment in front of a passionate 60,000 sell-out crowd. Tony Swift enjoyed a golden try-scoring farewell appearance while Steve Ojomoh outgunned everyone with a breathtaking display on the blindside flank vacated by Hall.

Bath, who had never before fielded the same 15 players in a competitive match, were stunning. Their finishing was so acute, their defence so complete, that Wasps were a beaten side well before the hour mark.

Despite Martin Haag’s early double strike – the in-form lock scored contrasting tries after four and 25 minutes – and Ben Clarke’s joyous gallop three minutes before the break, there was still work for the holders to do in the second half.

Wasps had their own danger men in Lawrence Dallaglio and Damian Hopley and they summoned a massive effort shortly after the restart. Few international sides could have resisted them but Bath managed it, thanks to some quite phenomenal tackling.

Haag got under Dean Ryan to prevent one try and then joined a couple of his teammates to stop Matt Greenwood seconds later. Finally, Ojomoh and Clarke clattered Nick Greenstock with a big double hit, snaffled the ball and then shook hands as if to suggest that the cup was now won.

To all intents and purposes, it was. Swift cleared the ball upfield and from the line-out, de Glanville beat Jon Ufton to a Richard Butland bomb to win an important scrum in the middle of the field.

It was from that platform that Bath conjured the killer score, Swift leaving Greenstock and Ufton for dead in classic style to put his side 29-11 up.

There could have been no more popular score and had referee John Pearson blown for time there and then, no-one would have worried in the slightest.

But there was still time for another vintage Bath strike – a try that encapsulated everything that makes them great.

Ojomoh, revelling in the sweltering conditions, ran powerfully from a set scrum and Butland’s beautifully timed short pass sent Jeremy Guscott roaring through the gap.

All Jon Callard had to do was arrive on his shoulder and stride out to the line. It was brilliant. So, yet again, were Bath.


BATH FORM: majestic.

SCORERS: 4 mins – Haag try, Callard conv, 7-nil; 7 mins – Andrew pen, 7-3; 11 mins – Andrew pen, 7-6; Haag try, 12-6; 37 mins – Clarke try, Callard conv, 19-6; 40 mins – Dunston try, 19-11 (H-T); 42 mins – Callard pen, 22-11; 52 mins – Swift try, Callard conv, 29-11; 62 mins – Callard try & conv, 36-11; 74 mins – Damian Hopley try, 36-16.

BATH; Callard; Swift, de Glanville, Guscott, Adebayo; Butland, Sanders; Yates, Adams, Ubogu (rep Mallett, 73 mins), Haag, Redman, Ojomoh, Clarke, Robinson.

WASPS: Ufton; Phil Hopley, Damian Hopley, Childs, Greenstock; Andrew, Bates; Molloy, Dunn, Dunston, Greenwood, Hadley, Dallaglio, Ryan, White.

REFEREE: John Pearson (Durham).

CONDITIONS: weather – sunny, very hot; pitch – excellent.


An emotional Tony Swift looked back on his stunning cup-clinching try and admitted: “I think that’s the first time I’ve side-stepped anyone for three years!”

Swift, who retired in style by reminding 60,000 people of his natural attacking ability, actually produced two sidesteps to leave Nick Greenstock clutching handfuls of grass.

He also made Ben Clarke’s first-half try with a superb angled run and pass. “The whole day was absolutely fabulous,” he said.

The 36-year-old accountant added: “The thing that pleased me most out there was the performance of the younger lads.

“They are the ones who have to take Bath forward now. We’ve all had our day and we have great memories but they’ve got everything to play for and I think they’ll do it for us.

“It was one of the great Bath displays. We had a lot of injuries and we had to soak up a tremendous amount of pressure, so to win in that style is a dream come true..

Retiring captain John Hall said of his colleague: “His record speaks for itself; he’s one of the very best. I just wish he’d had more opportunities on the international front.

“The guy is an absolute phenomenon and he’ll be very much missed.”

Coach Brian Ashton said: “Tony’s try was a typical one for him. He had two men to beat and I don’t think either laid a finger on him.

“One on one, he’s never been easy to defend against. He did it for us last year in the semi-final against Harlequins and he did it again today.”


BRISTOL-based Wasps coach Rob Smith described his side as “also-rans” after watching Bath land their ninth knock-out title in 12 years.

“We’re all grown-ups and we have to accept the fact that we were seriously second-best on the day,” he admitted.

“The crucial spell was early in the second half, when we had all the territory and pressure we could ever wish for. We set the big runners at them and they stopped us. All credit to them.”

Smith accepted that Steve Ojomoh’s immense performance in the Bath back row left his own side’s game plan in tatters.

“To be honest, I was not at all happy when John Hall pulled out and Ojomoh came in,” he said. “We were always looking to play a fast, wide game and Ojomoh makes the big hits far wider than Hall, whose strength is very much at close quarters.

Smith’s counterpart, Brian Ashton, agreed that Ojomoh made a vital contribution.

“I thought our back row were superb. Andy Robinson played a major role at openside, stopping the first-up Wasps runners in their tracks, while Steve and Ben Clarke turned over a lot of their ball out wide.”

Double try scorer Martin Haag said: “We suddenly started to play as we know we can and the trick now is to do that week in, week out when the new season begins.

“For once, we gave ourselves a decent start. I was quite surprised my first try came in the way it did – it was a planned move from the set scrum but it was also one that hadn’t worked for ages!”


This page was added on 21/09/2014.

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.