Rugby Union: Hall does what only he can do

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The Independent Online
Bath . . .39

Orrell. . .3

IT WAS time to reacquire the winning habit, something both teams had in mind at the Recreation Ground yesterday. A betting man would have laid his money squarely on Bath. Sure enough, it was the champions who made the most of a home run - Jon Hall in particular - and left no one in any doubt that a third successive title is well within reach if the victories keep coming.

Last season Bath lost 10-9 at Orrell and were deducted a league point for fielding an unregistered player. For the northerners, finishing level with Bath, who held a vast advantage in terms of points difference, was simply not good enough. Now they look permanently out of the running.

Orrell's line-out had been boosted by the return of the 6ft 7in Charles Cusani, but they buckled as early as the 19th minute and were never in the contest again. Jon Webb had opened with a straight 40-yard penalty, then Bath got a sight of the Orrell line. That was all they needed, and Hall (brought back, according to his captain, Andy Robinson, 'to do what only Jon Hall can do') forced his way over. Orrell, however, held him up and were awarded the put-in. But they made a hash of it, the ball squirted out, and Richard Hill picked up smartly for a simple score.

Webb's conversion was a formality and the only joy for Orrell before the break was a 50-yard belter of a penalty from Gerry Ainscough when Victor Ubogu charged in and killed a ruck. 'Keep on your feet' is the name of the game, but thereafter Bath kept their collective heads and pulled right away.

Webb, who accrued 19 points, opened the second half with a penalty, and it was all over when the full-back joined the line and raced clean through. Hall then did what he was meant to do, twice in three minutes for good measure.

Bath: J Webb; T Swift, P de Glanville, J Guscott, A Adebayo; S Barnes, R Hill; G Chilcott, G Dawe, V Ubogu, N Redman, A Reed, A Robinson (capt), B Clarke, J Hall.

Orrell: S Taberner (capt); P Halsall, S Langford, B Wellens, N Heslop; G Ainscough, D Morris; M Hynes, N Hitchen, S Southern, C Cusani, C Brierley, D Cleary, S Gallagher, P Manley.

Referee: S Piercey (Yorkshire).

Scores: Webb (pen, 14min) 3-0, Hill/Webb (try/conv, 18min) 10-0, Ainscough (pen, 23min) 10-3, Webb (pen, 47min) 13-3, Webb/Webb (try/conv, 51min) 20-3, Hall/Webb (try/conv, 64min) 27-3; Hall/Webb (try/conv, 67min) 34-3, Redman (try, 73min) 39-3.