Rugby union: Guscott adds extra dimension

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The Independent Online
Bath 36 Richmond 14

ANY TALK this season of writing off Jeremy Guscott at international level - or any level - should be dismissed. Far from being written off, his should be the first name written down by the England coach, Clive Woodward. His rival on Saturday, Allan Bateman, another world-class centre, said as much after seeing Guscott turn it on against a wasteful Richmond at the Recreation Ground.

"I'm sure his name is the first to be jotted down on an England team sheet," said Bateman, who last year scored two tries against the great man in a cup tie only to find himself on the receiving end of Guscott's second double of the season.

Guscott dismissed the tries as a couple of "markers", preferring to remind himself of two missed tackles he alleges he was guilty of; he is in a minority of one, but then he always has been in a class of his own anyway.

By his own admission Guscott had a poor season for his club last year, but this season he looks different. Sharper, more powerful and at 33 he shows no sign of slowing down. The speed at which he loped after Spencer Brown and brought him down when a Richmond try had looked on the cards at a critical point late in the first half was a reminder that this is no one- dimensional player.

The telling breaks he made throughout posed constant problems and culminated in him sending Adedayo Adebayo away for the final try. Richmond had their moments, their pack looked organised and even threatening in the loose where the heavy duty Craig Quinnell's weight and mobility frequently made ground through the massed Bath ranks, but outside there was some slipshod work, with the exception of Bateman. Over-eager hands snatched at the ball, eyes strayed, lines of running became tangled or turned into dead- ends.

Richmond could have led. Could have won. That they did not could be put down partly to Guscott's brilliance. But also Bath looked hungry. Richmond, even on a diet of possession and position, which they had for long spells in both halves, had no appetite. It will come good for them, they showed plenty of capability. Meanwhile, for the likes of Bath, it is looking as if it can only get better.

Bath: Tries Nicol, Guscott 2, Adebayo; Conversions Catt 2; Penalties Catt 4. Richmond: Tries Williams, Deane; Conversions A Davies 2.

Bath: I Balshaw; I Evans, K Maggs (P de Glanville, 66), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, S Hatley (A Nicol, h-t); D Hilton, A Long, V Ubogu (J Mallett, 43-66), N Redman, B Sturnham, N Thomas, E Peters, R Webster (capt) (R Earnshaw, 66).

Richmond: M Pini; S Brown, A Bateman, M Deane, D Chapman (N Walne, 49); A Davies, A Moore (capt); D Crompton, B Williams, J Davies, C Quinnell, C Gillies, R Hutton (C Palmer, 77), L Cabannes (B Cusack, 70), A Vander.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).