Rugby Union: Bath lit up by De Glanville

Bath 32 Cardiff 21
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The Independent Online
If This game remains in the memory for nothing else it will be for Phil de Glanville's exquisite try less than a minute into the second half of what was from start to finish a punishing contest between two finely matched sides.

The try alone, however, was worthy of a place in the European Cup semi- finals. Had the game had the benefit of a referee prepared to go with the flow it would have been even more spectacular, but with Didier Mene in charge there were times, especially during the first half, when it was in danger of suffocating in its own arcane laws. But not even M Mene could find anything wrong with De Glanville's try.

From Lee Jarvis's overhit kick to restart the second half, Mike Catt, with what has become his trademark, kicked high out of his 22 for Dan Lyle to regather possession. In the blink of an eye, the ball was in the hands of Adedayo Adebayo on the opposite side of the field. The wing brushed off Craig Morgan's flimsy challenge and, following a crisp interchange of passes between Jon Callard and De Glanville, the centre sprinted for the line. It was a beautifully worked move and illuminated a thoroughly entertaining contest.

It would be harder to argue the same case for Victor Ubogu's try 11 minutes from time which sealed Bath's victory and which brought the house down. As the continuous physical battering began to take its toll on the players and both sides resorted to the kick and chase game to conserve their fast draining energy, Andy Nicol, who is beginning to approach something like his best form, kicked aimlessly up field. An outrageously fortunate bounce found Ubogu in stately flight in the right place and at the right time to slip outside the cover defence and score in the corner. Although Callard missed the conversion, and despite the fact that Cardiff's best work was yet to come, the game was all but won.

Callard, in fact, had done his work earlier in the match with five successful penalty kicks. He was, therefore, the chief beneficiary of the referee's fastidiousness, especially in the first half when Cardiff conceded almost twice as many penalties as their opponents and Callard converted four of them.

It was a tribute to the discipline of both sides that for the most part they kept their frustrations under control and their tempers in check. Even if the referee had got all his decisions right, he would still have been guilty of over-policing the game, but he got far too many of them wrong for a match of this importance.

Cardiff probably had reason to feel the more aggrieved but only Andrew Lewis incurred his displeasure sufficiently to warrant a yellow card. As Lyle was lying blatantly on the wrong side of the ball 15 yards in front of his posts at the time, one had some sympathy for the Welshman, but there could be no excuse for him taking the law into his own hands.

Every time that the play gathered momentum in the first half, the whistle intervened and here again Cardiff were the more seriously inconvenienced. Robert Howley's strength and speed at the base of their scrum caused problems for Bath's defence but too often their attacks faltered in midfield where the combination of two such solid citizens as Mike Hall and Leigh Davies clogged the flow to the wings. For all that Davies proved a mighty hard man to hold and scored two fine tries, although had Cardiff won this match Callard would never have forgiven himself for allowing the centre to slip out of his grasp as he did for his first try.

Cardiff's support play was nowhere near the quality of their opponents' where once again Lyle stood head and shoulders above the rest, and it was only fitting that he should score Bath's final try in the second minute of injury time. As a result Cardiff's numerical superiority in the line- out ,where they had the advantage of three genuinely big men, was never turned to their advantage. For years, of course, Bath have managed to turn adversity in this department into a virtue and once again they managed brilliantly to conceal their deficiency in height. But this victory is once again a reward for the controlled adventure they have been displaying throughout the season.

Bath: J Callard; I Evans, P de Glanville, M Perry, A Adebayo; M Catt, A Nicol (capt); K Yates, A Long, V Ubogu, G Llanes, N Redman, N Thomas, E Peters (R Webster, 62), D Lyle.

Cardiff: J Thomas; N Walker, L Davies, M Hall, C Morgan; L Jarvis, R Howley; A Lewis (S John, 47), J Humphreys (capt), D Young (L Mustoe, 65), J Tait, D Jones, G Kacala, G Jones, S Williams.

Referee: D Mene (France).