Bath revived by old habits

Bath 36 Richmond 14
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The Independent Online
HE MAY have been around for a while now, but Jeremy Guscott is still able to put the "Something" into the Thirties. At 33 he has gone from nippy sports car to Bentley Mulsanne complete with turbo intercooler. Maturity has added power to his still awesome pace. And he was at his vintage best as Bath eventually romped home comfortable winners in this Allied Dunbar Premiership clash at The Recreation Ground yesterday.

There was a more clinical look to the Bath approach than in previous matches and the backs looked sharper. They were inspired by Guscott, who scored two tries, set up another and had the stressed Richmond defence reaching for the aspirin as he posed headache after pain in the neck for them. Mike Catt was on form with the boot, again landing four penalties before Richmond were on the scoresheet.

They at least got on it with a try. While both sets of backs were constantly launching probes into enemy territory, it was the forwards who made the most telling impact and got the first touchdown when the Richmond hooker, Barry Williams, tapped a penalty to himself in the 28th minute and burrowed over at the posts for Adrian Davies to convert.

Bath's forwards picked up the theme after the interval, setting up the replacement scrum-half Andy Nicol's sharply taken try in the 46th minute. The prop, John Mallett, who had just replaced Victor Ubogu, picked up and took the ball on, set up a ruck, Dave Hilton promptly did likewise and fed the hooker, Andy Long, whose pass sent Nicol over.

In fact, it was generally the forwards who stole the show. Richmond's loose play was as dynamic as it gets. Craig Quinnell was the battering ram and the rest of the pack flowed after him like sheep. But the Bath boys were no lambs themselves and presented some tough hurdles for Richmond to negotiate.

The pace picked up as the game wore on. Mel Deane's 51st-minute try, after good work by the replacement wing Nick Walne and some slick handling on the right, was countered in typical Bath fashion within a minute when Guscott turned the merest chink in Richmond's defence into a gaping hole and lanced through in his usual deadly way following Catt's tap penalty.

Richmond pinned Bath in their own 22 for a long spell after that, but the wily home side managed to lift the siege just when they looked in danger of capitulating, breaking out for good in the 70th minute, and, within 60 seconds, Guscott went over for his second try - his second double of the season - before setting up Adedayo Adebayo for his try and it was all over.

Richmond's director of rugby, John Kingston, said afterwards: "We had a load of chances to win the game and it's very disappointing that we didn't take them. We showed a degree of naivety while Bath were streetwise."

Bath: I Balshaw; I Evans, K Maggs (P de Glanville, 66), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, S Hatley (A Nicol, 41); D Hilton, A Long, V Ubogu (J Mallett, 43-66), N Redman, B Sturnham, N Thomas, E Peters, R Webster (R Earnshaw, 66).

Richmond: M Pini; S Brown, A Bateman, M Deane, D Chapman (N Walne, 49); A Davies, A Moore; D Crompton, B Williams, J Davies, C Quinnell, C Gillies, R Hutton (C Palmer, 77), L Cabannes (B Cusack, 70), A Vander.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol)