Rugby Union: Curtain comes down on Chilcott

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The Independent Online
Harlequins. .12

Bath. . . . .14

RUGBY lost a prop and panto gained a star performer when the four-square Gareth Chilcott finally signed off for Bath at The Stoop yesterday, on his way to play the Brokers Man in Cinderella. He could not have put it better, either. 'I'm moving from one field of entertainment into another.' And what better way to go than on a winning note?

The champions had lost last time out at Leicester, but yesterday they put their League show back on the road by shutting up Quins, and Chilcott departed a happy man. It was the 37-year- old's 374th appearance for his beloved Bath. 'I've played with some of the best players in the world and for the best club side in the world.'

We will miss him, of course, and so will the appropriately named Pound Inn at Coxley. The pub was the venue for the last Somerset disciplinary committee meeting Chilcott attended after he was sent off for the fourth time in his career in a Courage match at Gloucester in September 1989.

Chilcott ran a book on the outcome and made a killing, most people present betting on a month's ban but the prop escaping with 25 days. 'I was a bit wild in my early days,' Chilcott confessed, 'but I learnt that you can't play rugby if you are suspended.'

Meanwhile, England men were dropping like flies yesterday. Will Carling, Quins' England captain, phoned in with flu and Jason Leonard had a neck problem. Bath also lost two of their England heroes from last week's win over the All Blacks, Victor Ubogu withdrawing with an injured elbow and Jonathan Callard being taken ill in the dressing room.

When Stuart Barnes, who had just missed a long-range penalty attempt, went down clutching a knee in the fourth minute you wondered where it was all going to end. But Barnes recovered to lift Bath with a 60- yard touch-finder down the left.

A crooked line-out throw then resulted in a Bath scrum. Ben Clarke slipped the ball to Andy Robinson for the try; Barnes missed the conversion but his penalty on the half-hour after two from Kent Bray gave Bath the interval lead.

By now Barnes had his left knee heavily strapped but it did not prevent the stand-off landing a superb penalty from the left touch-line. Bray kept it tight with two more penalties either side of one from Mike Catt, before Bath and their Brokers Man could relax. Cinderella will be a doddle after this.

Harlequins: Penalties Bray 4. Bath: Try Robinson; Penalties Barnes 2, Catt.

Harlequins: K Bray; D O'Leary, J Keyter, G Thompson, J Alexander; P Challinor, R Glenister; M Hobley, B Moore, A Mullins (capt), T Coker, S Dear, M Russell, C Sheasby, M Pepper (D Thresher, 30 min).

Bath: A Lumsden; R Stuart, P de Glanville, M Catt, M Lloyd; S Barnes, R Hill; G Chilcott, G Dawe, J Mallett, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, B Clarke, J Hall.

Referee: S Piercy (Goole).

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