Rugby Union: Gloucester cut down by Callard

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Bath. . . . . . .46

Gloucester. . . .17

THE best that can be said of Gloucester is that they attempted to make a fight of it. Their two tries midway through the second half proved that some spirit lingers from the good old days. Unfortunately Bath scored six tries and it would have been kinder had the referee stepped in at half-time to end the punishment.

The only thing likely to prevent Bath from winning yet another title is complacency but in spells yesterday they were simply irresistible. As for their opponents - still without a win after four matches - it is dispiriting enough to confront Bath at the Recreation Ground. To do so with a serious malfunction in the goalkicking department is destructive. Against Leicester last week they missed six kicks at goal. Yesterday five went begging.

Sifting through the wreckage of this humiliating defeat, the biggest suffered by Gloucester in the league, it is difficult to find many signs of life. The forwards, the base for the club's once-fearsome reputation, are a pale imitation of their predecessors. They have backs built like barn doors, who unfortunately have the same handling skills, and the truth is that Bath did not have to be at their best to record a crushing victory.

By the time that Paul Beech succeeded in getting the ball between the posts for Gloucester's first points, two minutes into the second half, they were already 17 points down. All Bath's sweetest moves in the first half were directed down the left side of the field where the combination of Catt, Guscott and Callard was a joy to behold. If Jonathan Callard is having one of those spells when almost everything is going his way, the reverse is true of Gloucester's full-back Tim Smith. In addition to missing three kicks at goal, he spilled a high ball inside his 22, resulting in a ruck from which Callard provided a scoring pass for Ben Clarke.

Callard's conversion and his penalty goal 20 minutes later induced a certain complacency among the Bath forwards. But they raised the tempo again on the half- hour. Andy Robinson drove into midfield, Mike Catt took the ball going left and went clean through before delivering to Jeremy Guscott - swift, slick and simple. It was then just a matter of how many points Bath would score - too many for Gloucester.

Courage has withdrawn from negotiations to sponsor the proposed pounds 1.5m south stand development at Bath's Recreation Ground because of poorer than expected financial results.

Bath: J Callard; A Adebayo, P de Glanville, J Guscott, A Lumsden; M Catt, R Hill; G Chilcott, G Dawe, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, B Clarke, J Hall (capt).

Gloucester: T Smith; P Halford, D Cummins, D Caskie (J Merchant, 19 min), M Nicholson; P Beech, M Hannaford; B Phillips, J Hawker, P Jones, D Sims, R West, P Ashmead, S Masters, I Smith (capt).

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).

Scores: Clarke / Callard (try / con, 4 min,

7-0); Callard (pen, 24 min, 10-0); Guscott / Callard (try / con, 31 min, 17-0); Beech (pen, 42 min, 17-3); Callard (pen, 51 min, 20-3); Ubogu / Callard (try / con, 54 min, 27-3); Ubogu (try, 58 min, 32-3); Cummins / Smith (try / con, 66 min, 32-10); Holford / Beech (try / con, 71 min, 32-17); Adebayo / Callard (try / con, 75 min, 39-17); Hill / Callard (try / con, 79 min, 46-17).