Callard advances his claims at pace - Sport - The Independent

Callard advances his claims at pace

OWEN SLOT

Bath 52 Saracens 16

It is a strange type of dressing room that allows itself to be filled with gloom when the team inside it has scored eight tries and won by 36 points, but such is the way at Bath.

"Everybody's a bit disappointed," Phil de Glanville, the captain, said afterwards. "We were a bit below par." Which makes one wonder what on earth would have happened to Saracens if Bath had been on form.

The Bath team does, of course, always have some players on form and on Saturday, the day before another England squad training session at Marlow, these were, in particular, the three trying to make the transition from national squad to team: Andy Robinson, Jon Callard and De Glanville himself. Robinson had only just been called into the England squad and was perhaps still on a high because he played like he should never have been out of it.

If Robinson has, this season, been up to all the impressive old tricks that are best associated with him, Callard has been inventing some new ones. Ever since he arrived on the England scene, he has been reliable, formulaic and little more. That he has so much left to contribute has become increasingly clear recently. Bath have been attempting to run from everywhere - Saracens certainly could not keep up - and Callard, as much as anyone, has been joining in the fun.

Bath's fifth try on Saturday, which came straight after the restart from the fourth, was largely Callard's in the execution. A sprint into space on the right found Peter Harries, the Saracens winger, facing him but Callard turned him inside out and, when it seemed that he had held the ball too long, his pass to Audley Lumsden, who finished the move, was so perfect that it was quite clear he knew exactly what he was doing. "He was put in a strait-jacket when he played for England," De Glanville said afterwards. "We've just given him free reign. I hope if he gets picked for England then it will be on that basis."

De Glanville himself had got in on the scoring, yet this was no surprise because he also has been punching holes in opposition defences all season.

His try, which stemmed initially from a Callard counter-attack, was a classic outside break, but just one of the many gaps he found in the Saracens' back line.

He has, in his own opinion, had only one bad game this season - a week ago against Harlequins - so it is hardly surprising that he feels he, too, should be in the England team.

Jack Rowell, the England manager, is known to be considering filling England's right wing vacancy with one of his spare centres. Would De Glanville be interested? "I would play anywhere for England," he said. "But put Will Carling on the wing."

Bath: Tries Penalty try, Geoghegan 2, De Glanville, Guscott, Lumsden, Sanders 2; Conversions Callard 6. Saracens: Tries Harries, Tunningley; Penalties Lee 2.

Bath: J Callard; A Lumsden, P de Glanville (capt), J Guscott, S Geoghegan; R Butland, I Sanders; K Yates, G Dawe, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, B Clarke, E Peters.

Saracens: A Tunningley; M Gregory, S Ravenscroft, J Buckton, P Harries; A Lee, B Davies (capt); G Holmes, C Olney, S Wilson, M Langley, C Yandell, J Green, A Diprose, (D Zaltzman 53), R Hill.

Referee: S Lander (Irby, Wirral).

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