Robinson inspires record rout

Bath 76 Bristol 7
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The Independent Online
Six months ago Jason Robinson had never played a game of rugby union and, what was more, he had no desire to. Brought up in the league heartland of Leeds, he found the 15-man code negative at best and downright boring at worst.

Then came his appearance for Wigan against Bath in last May's cross-code confection at Twickenham. He liked Bath, who loved him in return and last night he cemented the bond with a display of such energetic virtuosity that poor Bristol found themselves on the wrong end of a record 11-try roasting that comfortably surpassed their previous low point, a 58-10 drubbing at Llanelli in 1985.

Bristol were attempting to fly in the face of the inevitable. History was against them - just one win over their greatest rivals in 13 years and that in a relatively meaningless Easter friendly - and so were the respective injury lists. While Bath were able to make light of Jon Callard's absence by shifting the high-voltage Robinson to full-back, their neighbours were in no position to field an adequate replacement for Robert Jones, their influential scrum-half. They also missed Alan Sharp's iron strength up front and Mark Regan's sheer exuberance in the loose.

When half of your international contingent are watching from the stand, the Recreation Ground is not the place to be. Especially when a significant proportion of Bath's own Test population - Graham Dawe, Eric Peters and Victor Ubogu among the bump and grind merchants plus Jon Sleight-holme outside - are intent on making a point or two to their own club selectors.

Thanks to Simon Shaw's line-out contribution and some eye-catching defensive work from the Irish flanker David Corkery, Bristol reached the end of the first quarter only six points adrift, Mike Catt causing the minimal early damage with a penalty and a drop goal.

The next 20 minutes were pure purgatory for the visitors though. Robinson's phenomenal pace and his equally remarkable ability to bounce off the harshest of physical challenges paved the way for an opening try from Adebayo on 23 minutes. Just 90 seconds later, Henry Paul accelerated away from the Bristol midfield to send Jeremy Guscott over unchallenged.

Catt added a second penalty on the half-hour, Dave Hilton scored a typical prop forward's try against his old club to further rub it in and when Guscott returned the earlier compliment by creating a fourth try for Paul, the champions were over the hill and far away at the break.

There would be no respite as Robinson continued to run riot in the second half. In seven minutes of stunning rugby, Bath went from 31-0 to 52-0 through solo scores from Paul, Sleightholme - a pearl of a 70-yarder, outside Dean Wring and inside Paul Hull - and Brian Cusack, a second row with a loose forward's idea of what is required in open field.

While Robinson kept going for the full 80 - only the odd high tackle from the aggressive Tongan wing Dave Tiueti even looked like halting him - some of his colleagues slowed towards the end. Even so, Bath managed late tries from Catt, Charlie Harrison, Guscott and, most bizarrely of all, Robinson - no, not Jason, who failed to get on the scoresheet despite his brilliance, but the wing forward Andy.

Bath: Tries Guscott 2, Paul 2, Adebayo, Hilton, Sleightholme, Cusack, Catt, A Robinson, Harrison; Conversions Catt 4, Harrison 2; Penalties Catt 2; Drop goal Catt. Bristol: Try Hull; Conversion Burke.

Bath: J Robinson; J Sleightholme, H Paul (M Perry, 59), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt (I Sanders, 77), C Harrison; D Hilton (N McCarthy, 74), G Dawe, V Ubogu, M Haag, B Cusack, S Ojomoh (D Lyle, 74), E Peters, A Robinson (capt).

Bristol: P Hull; D Tiueti, M Denney, K Maggs, D Wring; P Burke, T Down (D Dewdney, 49); D Hinkins, A Wadley, K Fulman, C Eagle, S Shaw, M Corry (capt), E Rollitt, D Corkery.

Referee: Brian Campsall (Yorkshire).

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