Bath better West's best

West Hartlepool 15 Bath 20

THE revolution in rugby is certain to destroy the old order but in one particular area the status quo prevails: the excellence of Bath, who not surprisingly launched the new season with a highly professional performance at Brierton Lane.

That said, West's was a most vigorous and enthralling display which if repeated regularly should ensure that they are not battling to avoid relegation.

Bath's victory, which was seriously in doubt following a sterling recovery by West after the interval, was largely the result of outstanding kicking by the full-back Jonathan Callard who struck five goals. Predictably, after a promising beginning in which Ben Clarke and Steve Ojomoh launched incursions into West territory, Bath took the lead through a penalty by Callard.

West slowly began to apply pressure through their powerful pack, pressure which should have produced points. However, a straightforward penalty opportunity was fluffed by the full-back Tim Stimpson. By contrast Bath extended their advantage to 6-0 thanks to Callard's second penalty.

Bath, fielding 11 internationals, threatened to score the opening try following a break down the left touchline by Jonathan Sleightholme, but not for the first time, West's tackling kept the line intact. Bath's mobile forwards continued to dominate, enabling the backs to show glimpses of their pace, although Jeremy Guscott was contained satisfactorily for 30 minutes.

Nevertheless such class cannot be restricted for long. The flanker Andy Robinson set up Bath's try from midfield. Guscott's pace and swift handling in turn sent Sleightholme on his way to the corner.

Fortified with a 14-3 lead, Bath continued to advance dangerously, again relying on the consistent goalkicking of Callard. His fourth successful penalty from as many attempts opened up an 11-point advantage at the interval.

However, as Bath discovered last season, West are formidable opponents at home. Two early second-half penalties by Stimpson, whose kicking improved markedly, and a skillfully taken drop goal by the stand-off Paul Hodder threatened an upset.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, West trailed by only two points, a recovery which inspired a fiercely committed performance that resulted in Bath defending their 22 for longer than they are accustomed. Some relief was provided by the continuing excellence of Callard's kicking, his fifth penalty goal producing a 20-15 scoreline.

Five minutes from time, West's optimism soared when Callard conceded a penalty deep in his 22. Unfortunately from West's point of view the attack faltered as Bath cleared the danger. Undeterred, the Teessiders launched several more raids, but calm defensive work by the country's most proficient players ensured that Bath clinched the points.

West Hartlepool: T Stimpson; O Evans, A Elwine, C Lee, S Jones; P Hodder, S Cook; P Lancaster (capt), T Herbert, M Shelley, J Dixon, K Westgarth, D Mitchell, A Brown, R Wainwright.

Bath: J Callard; A Lumsden, P de Glanville (capt), J Guscott, J Sleightholme; M Catt, A Nicol; K Yates, G Dawe, V Obogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, S Ojomoh, B Clarke.

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick