Catt man on mission

Benetton Treviso 27 Bath 50
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Mike Catt took the field against Treviso yesterday knowing he not only had to orchestrate a Bath victory from his pivotal role at stand- off but, in order to secure a quarter-finals spot in the Heineken Cup on 16 November, that victory had to be by more than 16 points. Or Bath had in effect lost out.

Eighty minutes of play later, Catt headed for the changing-rooms after contributing 33 points to Bath's 50-27 victory - one point adrift of the record of Dax's Richard Dourthe - and all but guaranteeing himself the No 10 jersey for his country this season. His four tries, five conversions and a penalty goal were worked around a six-minute spell on the sidelines for some repairs to a face wound. The Bath coach, Brian Ashton, said Catt's was "one of the finest individual displays I have seen from fly- half".

Though they have to settle for the runners-up position in Pool A - thereby forced into an away match at Cardiff - it was mission accomplished as far as John Hall, Bath's director of rugby, was concerned. Bath did the damage in a 28-minute spell that produced six tries after Treviso had twice held the lead in the opening exchanges. It was Catt who began settling Bath's nerves with his first try in the 12th minute. Adedayo Adebayo decided to get in on the act, muscling his way over for a brace of tries that rattled the Italians.

Adebayo had the centre Jeremy Guscott to thank for the sweetest of passes for both tries, though the wing must have enhanced his chances of being selected for his first international when Jack Rowell announces on Wednesday his England side to face Italy.

The prop David Hilton plopped over for Bath's fourth try, after a comedy of errors on the home line, before Catt took centre stage. He scorched over for three tries in a five-minute spell soon after half-time and Bath, with their line-out now working profitably, looked to be heading for a mammoth total.

But to Treviso's credit they never let their heads drop and were suitably rewarded with three tries of their own as Bath's legs visibly wobbled.

"Three games in a week certainly took its toll," Hall said. "But after being beaten by Pontypridd I am happy to be through to the quarter-finals, even if we are away.

"Treviso were a very good side. I was impressed with them, and I don't think many sides could come here and score 50 points. We lost our shape a bit but the demands on the players have been a lot in anyone's book; they gave their all." He has no doubt Bath will be improved when they face Cardiff.

It was indicative of Bath's concern that they stayed at least 16 points ahead when they opted to kick their one and only penalty goal in the final minute. Inevitably it was Catt who hammered the final nail into the Treviso coffin.

Benetton Treviso: F Donati; L Perziano (M Perziano, 69), T Visentin (P Dotto, 39), I Francescato, L Mantieri; F Mazzariol, A Troncon (capt); G Grespan, A Moscardi, A Castellani (M Dal Sie, 72), V Cristofoletto, D Scaglia, A Scorlon, J Gardner, S Rigo (P Pellarini, 60).

Bath: J Robinson; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville (capt), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt (H Paul, 14-20), C Harrison; D Hilton, G Dawe, J Mallett (V Obogu, 72), M Haag, B Cusack, N Thomas, S Ojomoh, E Peters.

Referee: D Gillet (France).