Bath blow hot and cold

Bath 55 Edinburgh 26
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The Independent Online
The longer this game progressed the easier it was to see why the Scottish Rugby Union were so determined to go into Europe with their districts rather than their clubs. But before they dispatched their troops to the front line they should at least have ensured that they were adequately prepared. A one-sided match two weeks ago against 10th-rate opposition, aborted after just 60 minutes, was woefully inadequate for a competition of this standard and opposition of vast quality.

The result was that Bath, in between bursts of dazzling activity, relaxed to the extent that, in a second half which they began 29 points clear, they missed as many scoring opportunities as they took. The look on Jeremy Guscott's face as first Steve Ojomoh and then Mike Catt failed to deliver scoring passes to him was a picture. They will not be allowed the luxury of such profligacy in the later stages of this competition, which is assured better support than it received at the Recreation Ground yesterday. Admittedly, Edinburgh were not the biggest of draws, with Scott Hastings the only familiar name south of the border. Even so, the crowd was, by some way, short of the anticipated sell-out.

On those occasions when Bath roused themselves from their torpor and raised the pace of the game, they were superb. Their sharpness and teamwork were in stark contrast to the opposition. But Catt, infuriatingly casual one moment, was mesmerisingly athletic the next. There was no finer example of this than his acrobatic pass to Adedayo Adebayo in mid-flight after Andy Robinson had made the initial breach and Catt had been taken down short of the line. Adebayo's try, which was Bath's fourth, followed equally explosive bursts from Guscott, scorer of the first try and the making of Jon Callard's shortly after. It was, in fact, Catt's sumptuously flighted pass earlier in the move which had opened up Edinburgh's flimsy defence.

Their defensive organisation was again exposed when Ojomoh picked up a swift scrummage heel and plunged over. On that occasion Bath's attacking position had been set up gloriously by Jason Robinson, whose twinkling feet had ripped Edinburgh to shreds. His try late in the match seemed scant reward for the sustained brilliance of his running.

He is a magnificent player whose adjustment to the union code has been more effortless than that of Henry Paul, who went off midway through the second half with a shoulder injury. It was no coincidence perhaps that within a minute of the arrival of his replacement, Matt Perry, Guscott was given enough room to score his second try.

That, like the five tries which had preceded it, was converted by the admirably reliable Callard. The full-back finished with 25 points from a try and an unblemished kicking display containing two penalties and seven conversions.

Apart from the opening quarter of an hour when Andrew Lucking and Paul Jennings, the Edinburgh locks, were at their most productive in the line- out, Edinburgh had only dogged determination and unquenchable spirit between them and humiliation. Duncan Hodge, their much praised young outside-half, scored a try in the final minute and kicked four penalties and the conversion of a try by Derek Lee, a full-back of pace and sound footballing virtues. But when it came to speed of thought and deed, they were outclassed if never quite eclipsed.

Bath: J Callard; J Robinson, H Paul (M Perry, 61), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, C Harrison; K Yates, G Adams, V Ubogu, N Redman, B Cusack, A Robinson (capt), R Webster, S Ojomoh.

Edinburgh: D Lee (Watsonians); S Reed (Boroughmuir), S Hastings (Watsonians, capt), C Simmers (Edinburgh Accies), S Lang (Heriots FP); D Hodge (Watsonians), G Burns (Watsonains); A Watt (Currie), G Ellis (Currie), B Stewart (Edinburgh Accies), P Jennings (Boroughmuir), A Lucking (Currie), B Ward (Currie), G Dall (Heriots FP), D Clarke (Currie).

Referee: G Simmons (Welsh Rugby Union)

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