Lacroix targets timid Bath

Harlequins 22

Bath 6

It has been a grim week for Bath, probably the grimmest in the club's history with the departure of their esteemed coach Brian Ashton and the continuing allegations of misdemeanours off the field. And now this, the biggest League defeat suffered by the club. If this loss has not scuppered their hopes of a League title, they cannot face the future with much confidence.

Harlequins, on the other hand, after an indifferent run which had seriously damaged their credibility as title challengers, are back in business. Truth to tell, it was not a great match. Quins had enough possession in the first quarter to have won the match there and then, but they squandered countless chances by unforced errors and careless kicking.

Thierry Lacroix may, on paper, have been the match-winner with four penalties, a dropped goal and the conversion of Jim Staples' try, but his authority and influence as an outside-half have to be questioned.

The speed of the modern game demands instant decision-making aided by swift and close support. Lacroix's reflexes, given his insistence on taking the ball so flat, were not nearly quick enough. This had a baleful effect on the Quins' centres, and late in the game when Bath were pressing with every ounce of muscle to catch up, Lacroix's failure to find touch gave the opposition hope when in truth there should have been none.

But the Frenchman's problems paled into insignificance set alongside those of his opposite number, Mike Catt. He is a stricken wreck at the moment and it is sad to see a player of his quality so at odds with his own game. But then he is being asked to play in a position for which he is ill-equipped.

It was 30 minutes before Bath were able to uncork Jason Robinson from the bottleneck in midfield but, astonishingly, he was caught from behind and what appeared to be the chance of a certain try evaporated into the misty air of winter.

There was a certain symmetry to the first half, Lacroix twice equalising within three minutes of Jon Callard's penalties for Bath. With neither side possessing a dominant figure in the line-out, there was a stalemate at the set piece, hence the shortage of attacking opportunities.

But after Lacroix's third penalty for Quins two minutes into the second half, Bath, now behind for the first time in the match, raised the pace of their game. Jeremy Guscott, an anonymous figure hitherto, sprang into life with two lovely bursts of acceleration. But Bath's famed ruthlessness, which has accompanied them throughout their triumphant progress in recent years, has deserted them. Yesterday they frequently surrendered promising scoring positions. Not only that, but they even conceded a scrummage which should have sealed their fate much earlier had Will Carling held on to an admittedly dreadful pass from his scrum-half Huw Harries.

This escape, however, produced a lively response from Bath, and with Richie Butland on for the temporarily injured Phil de Glanville and Catt alongside Guscott in the centre, Bath produced their most menacing spell of the match. Callard hit the post with a penalty attempt and, with Quins making an almost farcical number of handling errors and Lacroix failing lamentably to find touch, Bath kept the pressure on.

But when Quins forced a line-out followed by a couple of scrummages a yard from the Bath line, they displayed the killer instinct so lacking in Bath's game. Lacroix, with the breath of half the Bath pack on his collar and off his weaker wing, scraped the ball over the bar with a dropped kick to give Quins a nine-point lead and six minutes to defend it.

Another spillage in the midst of another promising assault, a clearance from Harries, a charge from Laurent Cabannes and a drunken lurch for the line by the full-back Staples, and it was the end of a wretched week for Bath.

Harlequins: J Staples; D O'Leary, R Paul, W Carling, D Luger; T Lacroix, H Harries; J Leonard, K Wood, L Benezech, G O Llewellyn, M Watson, R Jenkins, B Davidson, L Cabannes.

Bath: J Callard; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville (R Butland, 55-65), J Guscott, J Robinson; M Catt, A Nicol, D Hilton, F Mendez, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, N Thomas, E Peters, S Ojomoh.

Referee: S Piercey (Yorkshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?