Rugby Union: Gloucester's burden

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The Independent Online
Bath. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

Gloucester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

WISE heads, shaking in disbelief and occasional despair, were concentrating on the future for Gloucester rather than the glittering display of power and precision that Bath can produce at will.

Bath's only worry on Saturday was how to replace the pounds 500,000 of sponsorship for their new south stand which Courage have withdrawn. Any corporate scouts could only have been impressed by a side who had a couple of gears to spare, ran in six tries and can attract more than 8,000 spectators. 'Electrifying,' Jack Rowell, the Bath coach, said afterwards. 'When we are on song we can take apart any team in the country,' Richard Hill added.

Gloucester have lost their way to the point where this hard-as-nails derby has become just another match, although the first 20 minutes did contain some of the finer elements of scrum skulduggery.

They are, however, much closer to turning the corner than the record of two draws and two losses in four outings suggests. Their coach, Keith Richardson, said he was going to top up 20 pints of stout with a little cyanide and then added that the problem was one of putting the basics right, kicking the goals and making the best of the talent available to them.

Gloucester need to do what they can already do, but do it better. They have a tall presence in the line-out and a tough one in the tight. In Marcus Hannaford they have an experienced scrum-half of imperturbable chunkiness. The young outside-half Paul Beech will be doing everything to make sure he never repeats such a dismal afternoon of touch-finding and place kicking, and the same goes for the full-back Tim Smith.

Gloucester have the spine of a team who can do better. It is too early to write them off, as London Irish may find this weekend.

Bath: Tries Clarke, Guscott, Ubogu 2, Adebayo, Hill; Conversions Callard 5; Penalties Callard 2. Gloucester: Tries Cummins, Holford; Conversions Smith, Beech; Penalty Beech.

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

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).