Rugby Union: Bath on verge of the title

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Bath. . . . . . .40

London Scottish. .6

BAR the shouting, and there was plenty of that from the soaked but happy hordes at the Rec, you would think it was all over, and it will be if Bath follow up this handsome six-try victory over London Scottish with a closing win against Saracens in three weeks' time.

Until then, thanks to the winning ways of Wasps at Orrell, the celebration drinks to go with a fourth Courage title have had to be put on ice and Bath and their supporters would do well to remember that when they travelled to Southgate three seasons ago they were left crying in their beer after Sarries surprised them 9-7.

No one is expecting anything along those lines this time around but it is as well not to be too complacent. As for the Scots, they could settle down to the sort of serious drinking associated with a wake, yesterday's defeat and results elsewhere condemning them to a swift return to the Second Division.

It was a sad day for the weakened Scots who, with four destined for the drop as the national leagues make room for home and away fixtures, join Rugby, West Hartlepool and Saracens in the fall from the first flight. Yesterday, they never came close to salvation.

Minus Iain Morrison and Derek White, their international forwards, the Scots pack never had a hope of containing Bath in miserable conditions. The champions knew what they had to do and did it well, and such was the supply of possession that they could chance their arm by spinning a slippery ball.

The rout started after half a dozen minutes. The Scots took a drop out, Nigel Redman won the cleanest of catches and when Richard Hill and Ben Clarke combined there was a try for Tony Swift. The pattern had been set and there was nothing the Scots could do about it.

Victor Ubogu, the prop who spent the afternoon standing off in preparation for a number of thunderous charges, next benefited from some splendid sleight of hand that ended in a scoring pass from Adedayo Adebayo and Stuart Barnes's conversion out of the mud along the touchline was another blow.

Indeed, apart from a Nick Grecian penalty, it was all Barnes leading up to the break. The English Lion potted two penalties of his own, and when Adebayo was halted by a brave covering tackle from Mark Appleson, the stand- off arrived to make the pick up and dive over.

The Scots, encouraged by another penalty from their full-back, then held their own early in the second half. Not that it could last, Ubogu's charge off a winning ruck setting up Clarke for the fourth Bath try and Jon Callard and Phil de Glanville completing the day's business. And so it is on to Southgate and that beckoning title.

Bath: J Callard; T Swift, P de Glanville, J Guscott, A Adebayo; S Barnes, R Hill; G Chilcott, G Dawe, V Ubogu, A Reed, N Redman, A Robinson (capt), B Clarke, J Hall.

London Scottish: M Appleson; N Grecian, S Wichary, G Dingwall, L Renwick; R Cramb (capt), D Millard; D Denham, L Mair, B Hillicks, D Cronin, R Scott, N McBain, C Brown, I Dixon.

Referee: A Sparks (Leamington Spa).

Scores: Swift (try, 6 min, 5-0); Ubogu / Barnes (try / con, 15 min, 12-0); Barnes (pen, 18 min, 15- 0); Barnes (pen, 23 min, 18-0); Grecian (pen, 30 min, 18-3); Barnes (try, 35 min, 23-3); Grecian (pen, 41 min, 23-6); Clarke (try, 57 min, 28-6); Callard (try, 76 min, 33-6); De Glanville / Callard (try / con, 79 min, 40-6).

Traditional forward power secured Gloucester's First Division survival as they overpowered Bristol 22-9 at the Memorial Ground. Victory was sealed before half- time as their full-back Tim Smith scored one try, then made another for Bob Phillips.

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