Catt atones for spills

RUGBY UNION Bath 37 Gloucester 11
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The Independent Online
FOR all the points that Bath assembled, the dismantling of Gloucester at the Rec yesterday was not a triumph to be treasured. Their match programme contained a flyer for the local pantomime, and for much of yesterday's game, a line-up of Gareth Chilcott, Keith Chegwin and Hinge and Bracket in Sleeping Beauty looked a better bet for the future than Phil de Glanville and his men.

Not that Bath can really be blamed. They put together two length-of-the- pitch manoeuvres in the second half, a final realisation of the invention they had been working on throughout. In the first half, though, they found insufficient room to run past the opposition and when an opening did appear, it was blocked by the referee.

Gloucester, it must be said, displayed little to suggest that what is now a run of consecutive defeats should come to an end, though the poorest player on the pitch was Stewart Piercy, the man blasting the whistle, handing out penalties apparently at random and spoiling Bath's rhythm. This meant that Bath were not rewarded for their attempts to play positively.

A tally of three tries to one brought Bath victory, though the scoreline could have been considerably closer had Lee Osborne, the Gloucester kicker, been successful with more than one of the four kicks that the referee's penalty lottery awarded him. Jon Callard was more on line for Bath, though a poor match with the boot was experienced by Mike Catt. Catt made amends with a drop-goal at the end of the first half, yet even this stemmed from a scrum which had been incorrectly presented to Bath after a knock-on by Audley Lumsden.

Even when the game was starting to get going, it could not rid itself of Mr Piercy's misjudgement. We were a quarter of the way into the match and Graham Dawe took a scrum against the head, Bath sought to capitalise by spinning the ball but their efforts backfired when Jon Sleightholme knocked on. Poor old Sleightholme could do little to prevent the ball bouncing forward off him, though, because his arms were being held back in a tackle that had arrived an age too early. The referee arrived far later, and Gloucester were awarded the scrum.

Thus it was that the scoreline was initially affected only by penalty kicks, though Osborne was missing most of these - and it wasn't until six minutes from half time that Bath's superiority was rewarded. A run down the right by Andy Nicol, Callard and Lumsden ended just in front of Gloucester's line, and four penalties later Nicol managed to force his way over it.

By the second half, though, Bath were so much the better side that neither Gloucester nor the referee could block their path. Starring in their ascendancy was Kevin Yates, a prop of considerable promise, and Lumsden whose pace twice exposed Gloucester and was rewarded with Bath's third try.

Sleightholme had already scored Bath's second when he ran through quickest on to a long kick from Catt. Paul Holford scored a late consolation try for Gloucester, but by then the game was already quite clearly Bath's. As if purely to underline their superiority Bath took the opportunity 10 minutes from time to drive a maul 45 metres up field. And Gloucester could do nothing about it whatsoever.

Bath: J Callard; A Lumsden, P de Glanville, J Guscott, J Sleightholme; M Catt, A Nicol; K Yates, G Dawe, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, E Peters, S Ojomoh.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Cummins, M Roberts, L Osborne; M Kimber, B Fenley; A Martin, P Greening, A Deacon, M Cornwell, R West, P Glanville, I Smith, C Raymond.

Referee: S Piercy (Yorkshire).

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