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).

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing