Rugby Union: Bath rely on bright Butland

Harlequins 20

Bath 27

It was the poor wretch who had to adjudicate on the man of the match award I felt sorry for. I was sitting next to the fellow and as this sorry excuse for a match entered its final minutes with Harlequins leading 20-15 he plumped in desperation for Thierry Lacroix who earlier in the game had with a subtle touch set up Quins' opening score. Personally I would have given it to the third cheerleader from the left whose agility in the pre-match entertainment was far superior to anything we saw in the subsequent 80 minutes.

No sooner had my companion made his selection, however, than the wheels came off. Brian Campsall, the referee, awarded a controversial penalty try to Bath as a result of Quins' persistent infringements. After conceding a series of penalties close to their line the referee finally ran out of patience and awarded Bath a try. Now behind by two points and with three minutes of injury time played, Harlequins in desperation attempted to break free from behind their own line. As they had failed lamentably in the previous 83 minutes to cover more than half a dozen yards without error this was always going to prove beyond them. The ball went lose and Richie Butland crossed for Bath's second try in almost as many minutes. This gave Butland 22 points for the game and unquestionably therefore made him the man of the match. But all of this came too late for the man from the Telegraph to change his mind. The magnum of champagne therefore went to Lacroix.

It is some time since Bath were able to intimidate opponents by merely turning up. Nowadays they are a pale imitation of the great sides of the past and at the Stoop yesterday they played a game with which those of us who have followed their progress over the years are unfamiliar.

Their running lacked imagination and intuition. It was all lateral movement, with the angles of running so predictable as to be easily stifled by the opposition defence.

It was not until the final 10 minutes of the match, and after sundry replacements had rejuvenated Bath's pack, that they played with any conviction although Dan Lyle at No 8 worked harder than anyone to give them some momentum and purpose. Butland, with five penalties, a try and a conversion was obviously the most influential figure on the field and played tidily enough, but Matt Perry's burgeoning talent was mostly ignored at full- back.

Harlequins doubtless will feel aggrieved that the crucial refereeing decisions went against them but they had only themselves to blame. For most of the match they had looked the sharper and more positive side and after an opening quarter in which the play had been confined to the midfield they broke the tedious mould with a well-worked try, Lacroix providing the opportunity for Jamie Williams to cross the Bath line. Lacroix converted and then kicked a penalty to stretch Quins' lead to seven points.

But then their game fell apart. They surrendered to indiscipline and conceded a stream of penalties, four of which Butland converted to restore the lead he had given them as early as the seventh minute.

Even so, with Bath failing utterly to string more than a couple of passes together and recklessly giving away hard-won possession, they were providing Quins with all manner of enticing attacking options. Taking matters into his own hands the Quins skipper, Keith Wood, put his head down just outside his own 22 and set off on a charge which carried him through the first and second strands of the Bath cover. Darren O'Leary was involved in the movement and so was Williams before Johnny Ngauamo flopped over the line for a try which Lacroix converted.

There were now 14 minutes of the match remaining but instead of consolidating on their lead Harlequins persisted in over-elaboration, thereby allowing the opposition back into the game. Bath may not be the force of old but they still managed to draw on past experience and their formidable power up front was enough to carry them through.

Harlequins: J Staples (J Keyter, 63); D O'Leary, T Lacroix, J Nguaumo, J Williams; R Liley, N Walshe; M Cuttitta, K Wood (capt), J Leonard, G Llewellyn, L Gross (G Allison, 72), R Jenkins, B Davison, L Cabannes.

Bath: M Perry; J Sleightholme (J Ewens, 73), P de Glanville (capt), M Catt, B Roche; R Butland, C Harrison (R Pellow, 57); D Hilton, M Regan, V Ubogu (K Yates, 63-79), G Llanes, N Redman, R Webster (R Bryan 37-40), E Peters, D Lyle.

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn