Rugby Union: Callard sets tone

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The Independent Online
Bath 43

Wasps 27

IT HAS been an interesting baptism but Andy Robinson is learning the tricks of the coaching trade. After Bath put 47 points on Gloucester in midweek to go third in the Allied Dunbar Premiership, Robinson declared that the season had only just started. It was good timing for a spring clean and yesterday the European champions returned to the Recreation Ground to dispose of Wasps.

In terms of consistency there is no comparison between the clubs. Last season Wasps, en route to the league championship, dropped a depth charge in the Roman baths here with a spectacular victory.

Very little has gone right for Wasps since and their cause was not helped yesterday by the withdrawal of Lawrence Dallaglio. The England captain has damaged a rib cartilage, which could keep him out of the Five Nations' Championship match against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

The balmy weather had the barmy army out in shirt sleeves and they expected nothing less than some sort of massacre in the sun. It never materialised. For one thing, Wasps may be down but they are not out. And the Bath faithful made it plain that the referee did them no favours.

In fact, Brian Campsall did Bath a huge favour midway through an increasingly frantic second half by awarding them a penalty try after Andy Nicol had been tripped in the process of taking a tap penalty near the Wasps line. But for that it could have been uncomfortably close.

The loss of Dallaglio, and the absence of Alex King, meant that Gareth Rees, more a hornet than a wasp, not only played stand-off but took over the captaincy. Unfortunately, the Canadian veteran missed a couple of penalties that even Dallaglio would have kicked and at half time the North London club turned into the sun 16-3 down.

The first time Bath had an attacking position, Martin Haag won a line- out and from the drive Dan Lyle cruised down the blind side for a simple try. Thereafter the American No 8 fought a losing battle with a leg injury and limped off. It was the only try of the half although Jon Callard, the hero of Bordeaux, kept the score ticking over with a series of penalties.

Matt Perry may be young and exciting and Callard not so young, but the latter puts points on the board. It was only after Callard had helped himself to 18 points that Perry was brought on.

Bath made the perfect start in the second half when Phil de Glanville cut through for a solo try but even so they could never fully relax. A brilliant run from the impressive Paul Sampson created a try for Ken Logan and there was still time for several cameos. Mike Catt missed a penalty from in front of the posts (why on earth do they put him through such torture?) before Jeremy Guscott, with an overlap, crossed for a try.

In the dying stages, with both defences virtually on their knees, Chris Sheasby got Wasps' third try and Ieuan Evans Bath's fifth.

Bath: J Callard (M Perry, 60); I Evans, P de Glanville (R Butland, 75), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, A Nicol (capt; S Hatley, 77); D Hilton, M Regan (F Mendez, 50), V Ubogu (J Mallett, 50), M Haag, N Redman, R Earnshaw, D Lyle (D Jones, 27), E Peters

Wasps: P Sampson; S Roiser, N Greenstock, L Scrase, K Logan; G Rees (capt), A Gomarsall; D Malloy (A Black, 65), S Mitchell (T Leota, 71), W Green, M Weedon, S Shaw, C Sheasby P Scrivener (D Walton, 76), M White

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).