Rugby Union: Bath take wrecking ball to Rec

Bedford 17 Bath 30
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The Independent Online
CRISIS, WHAT crisis? With all the talk of doom for the professional game and financial disaster even for its illustrious clubs there was a jolting experience from top to bottom at Goldington Road.

The Bath coach Andy Robinson's happiness could be explained simply by the comfort of a third league win thickening the scar tissue over the wound of six consecutive defeats. But his biggest grin was for the news of a pounds 30m plan to redevelop the Recreation Ground in partnership with the council.

Away goes the clubhouse, where a new stand would be built, away goes the old riverside stand, replaced by a new one incorporating a clubhouse, and up goes the number of seats in the Teacher's stand.

The scheme to increase capacity to 15,000 then accelerates into Disneysphere. The grassland to the east of the pitch, at the moment disfigured by scaffold seating, would, at the touch of a button, rise majestically as the stand stowed underground lifted skywards. What confidence, and what a way to dispose of unruly fans.

And the return of Frank Warren from a pounds 7.2m beating in the States by Don King has him talking about continued support, though he is also talking to others about offers. This prompted the coach Rudi Straeuli to say not only that he needed a couple more beefy forwards and a goal kicker, but he expected to have the funds to sign them in the next couple of weeks.

Nor did he want to lose any of his present squad who, far from being hang-dog about not a single win since 10 October, are still ripping into the ankles of their opponents.

It is the relationship between the players and the spectators that is keeping the game going and, as Robinson pointed out, they had seen a good game. "Some might say Bedford were better than us," he conceded.

The difference was Bath's ability to capitalise on opportunities plus the kicking of Mike Catt, both tactical and at goal. The try count was three apiece, though Bedford's Richard Elliott was unlucky to be disallowed a first half wriggle, when Bedford were all over Bath, to add to his final seconds flourish under the posts.

But the big hearts of Dan Zaltzman and Alistair Murdoch could not eclipse the quality of Iain Balshaw and Adedayo Adebayo, plus a penalty try warranting no informed complaint. But even an eclipsed sun has a visible, fiery rim.

Bedford: Tries Murdoch, Zaltzman, Elliott; Conversion Howard. Bath: Tries Balshaw; Penalty Try Adebayo; Conversions Catt 3; Penalties Catt 3.

Bedford: B Whetstone (S Howard, 50); R Underwood, A Murdoch (capt), D Harris, D O'Mahony; A Yapp, R Elliott; C. Boyd, J Richards, V Hartland (A Ozdemire, 70), D Zaltzman, S Murray, J Cockle, J Forster, J Paramore.

Bath; M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, S Hatley (A Gomarsall, 75); D Hilton, M Regan, V Ubogu, M Haag, S Borthwick, REarnshaw, R Webster (capt) (E Peters, 58), D Lyle.

Referee: N Yates (Cheshire).