Rugby Union: Callard leads Bath on another romp

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FROM a two-step to a three-step was but a short hop for Bath. They arrived here last weekend as Courage League champions and added to their silverware collection by lifting the Pilkington Cup. As if the sideboard was not already groaning, yesterday they emerged from the mist and the rain as winners of the Middlesex Sevens for the first time.

That's Bath for you. With the big boys out of town assisting the England cause in South Africa, Jon Callard, the one they left behind, led the side to this latest triumph at the venue that might fairly be regarded as the club's home from home. On the receiving end now were Orrell, also breaking new ground as finalists but beaten 19-12 by the best all-round team in the land.

With 48,000 tickets sold for the occasion, the stars when showtime arrived were Callard and Audley Lumsden. Orrell put up a great fight after trailing by two points at the break. But the crucial tries in the second half came from Lumsden, his seventh touchdown of the day, and Callard, whose closing conversion gave him a total of 35 points from Bath's four matches. 'We had a one-hour training session this week and that was it,' Callard said. It certainly was for Orrell.

Meanwhile, it is strange how other things pan out. Two years ago, while their arch rivals from Western Samoa were running away with the sevens, the Fijians sat in the stand kicking their heels as spectators. The nearest they came to participating was when news arrived that the Leicester team's coach, the multi-wheeled variety, was stuck on the M1.

'They became quite excited,' Derek Mann, the Sevens committee chairman, recalled. 'I swear that some of them had kit on underneath their everyday wear.' Unfortunately for the Fijians, the Tigers beat the traffic and the Samoans ended up beating London Scottish out of sight in the final.

Yesterday, though, Leicester, still smarting from suffering at the hands of Bath seven days previously, were not even on the coach, while the Fijians finally made it as one of two guest sides present for the last act of the season. So where were the Tigers? 'I gather they have become a little disillusioned,' Mann said, 'through late withdrawals in the past of selected players.'

Leicester should have been among the eight Courage First Division sides gaining automatic entry and joining the qualifiers. Perhaps they had seen enough of Twickenham already. The West Country giants, though, were here with thoughts of a unique treble to drive them on.

As for the Fijians, playing under the Spartans banner and wearing the Wooden Spoon Society colours, they had a number of sources to thank for providing financial support in getting them here.

Wooden spoon? Well, they had no intention of coming last first time out, Blackheath eventually on the receiving end after their man Mike Friday had the temerity to open the try-scoring. Orrell, in the quarter-finals, were a different prospect entirely.

Final scorers: Bath: Tries Rayner, Lumsden, Callard; Conversions Callard 2. Orrell: Tries Naylor, Johnson; Conversion Johnson.

Bath: A Lumsden, E Rayner, J Callard (capt), I Sanders; E Peters, G Adams, M Haag.

Orrell: J Naylor, I Wynn, P Johnson (capt), A Healey; M Farr, J Clayton, H Parr.

Referee: K Ricketts (Portsmouth).

(Photograph omitted)