Rugby Union: Catt keeps control for Bath

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The Independent Online
Bath. . . .32

Orrell. . .13

BRISTOL, Northampton and now Orrell. Rather like dealing with a troublesome fly, Bath swatted the latest effort aimed at challenging their Courage supremacy to leave the visitors from the north-east feeling a trifle flat by the time they left the Recreation Ground yesterday. But then Bath have that effect on lesser rugby folk.

No doubt about it, Dewi Morris and his boys had a huge task on their hands. This is the England scrum-half's first and final winter as Orrell captain, the decision to retire after next summer's World Cup being announced at the back end of his club's last campaign.

'There are other things in life besides rugby,' Morris said, though here the rugby was all-consuming with thoughts of a cricket score from Bath surfacing as early as the third minute. The champions had just seen a penalty miss from the goal-kicking prop Phil Winstanley whistle past their posts when a quickly-won ball from the drop-out saw Mike Catt taking off and Jon Sleightholme scoring on the left for Catt to convert.

Goal-kicking prop? Well, Winstanley's next effort after Catt had landed a penalty saw the loose-head end up in a heap on the floor. The 50-yard range was very definitely not his forte, though one from in front did enable him to recover his composure. Better still from Orrell's point of view, however, was a well-worked ball down the line started by Morris and ending in a try for Ian Wynn.

However, the game now swung heavily in Bath's favour. Another Catt penalty was followed by a heavy charge from Martin Haag, a big drive from Ben Clarke and a first league try for Gareth Adams, the England Under-21 flanker turned happy hooker.

By the break, Orrell's chances of staying in contact were rapidly dwindling and soon Phil de Glanville was celebrating his elevation to the captaincy in the absence of the injured John Hall with a try.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest cheers was reserved for the news from West Hartlepool. Here, though, it was all black stuff for the north, Orrell occasionally threatening and rustling up a second try for Wynn off a tap penalty. But not before Bath had effectively wrapped things up with a line-out take and burst from Andy Reed which Clarke capitalised on for a storming try.

Bath: H Long; T Swift, P de Glanville (capt), A Lumsden, J Sleightholme; M Catt, I Sanders; D Hilton, G Adams, J Mallett (C Clark 57-64), M Haag, A Reed, A Robinson (T Beddow 68-70), B Clarke, S Ojomoh.

Orrell: S Langford; J Naylor, I Wynn, P Johnson, A Healey; G Ainscough, D Morris (capt); P Winstanley, T Redmond, J Cundick, C Brierley, C Cooper, H Parr, S Bibby, P Manley (S Hayter 57-65).

Referee: C Thomas (Welsh RU).