Bath make heavy weather of it

Borders 17 Bath 31
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The Independent Online
Clive Woodward marked what was possibly his last match as Bath's assistant coach with a hard-earned victory in Pool C of the Heineken European Cup. However, for a long period of the game at Mansfield Park, Hawick, Bath allowed Borders to unsettle them to the extent that a 16-point lead was cut to a single score as depleted Bath struggled to find the rhythm and cutting edge they had displayed in the opening quarter.

Bath's chief executive, Tony Swift, and senior coach, Andy Robinson, are adamant Woodward remains on the staff at The Rec until the Rugby Football Union declare their hand.

While Woodward's future with Bath looks soon to be at an end, his club's progress in this competition made depend on how and if they can reintegrate some of their nine internationals not available to face Borders. Jon Sleightholme, Adedayo Adebayo, Ieuan Evans and John Mallett are expected to play for the second XV against Gloucester tomorrow and may be considered for Saturday's match against the Cup-holders, Brive.

Borders made a dynamic start, by displaying impressive continuity and hinting they had fought long and hard about how to break Bath down. At every penalty beyond kicking range - and they were awarded 11 in the first half - it was tap and go. Of the other three, the Borders' outside-half, Scott Welsh, kicked two to bring the home side their only points.

For all their inventive intent, Borders never once threatened Bath's line while, within the space of 25 minutes, they allowed Russell Earnshaw to cross twice and Matt Perry to glide over for a third try. Jon Callard converted twice for Bath to race into a 19-6 lead and suggest the Scots would be contemplating another 50-point defeat unless they could garnish their bright approach work with some points.

Welsh added another three with a penalty before Peter Wright sent Tony Stanger into the corner to bring the score to 19-14. It could have set up a grandstand finish but Bath finished with tries by Steve Ojomoh and Chris Horsman.

Borders: Tries Stanger; Penalties Welsh 3, Aitchison.

Bath: Tries Earnshaw 2, Perry, Ojomoh, Horsman; Conversions Callard 3.

Borders: G. Aitchison; T. Stanger, C. Murray (S. Nicol 50), K. Utterson, M. Moncrieff; S. Welsh, B. Redpath (capt); N. McIlroy (M. Browne 73); J. Hay (S. Brotherstone 73), P. Wright, R. Brown, I. Fullarton, C. Redpath, A. Roxburgh, C. Hogg.

Bath: J. Callard (capt); M. Wood (C. Harrison h-t), P. de Glanville, M. Catt (J. Ewens h-t), M. Perry; R. Butland, R. Pellow; D. Hilton (C. Horsman 68), M. Wegin, V. Ubogu, N. Redman, D. Lyle (M. Haag 56), R. Webster, R. Earnshaw, S. Ojomoh.

Referee: N. Williams (Neath).