Rugby Union: Scottish clean up act to turn tables on Bath

London Scottish 13 Bath 11
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The Independent Online
SO IN the end, not the traumatic trip down memory lane that some people had feared. Mind you the parallels with last year's infamous Tetley's Bitter Cup tie seemed to be more conspiracy than coincidence.

This time it was the Allied Dunbar Premiership and London Scottish were competing as Bath's peers, but all else remained the same. Just like the match last January the rain was lashing down; once more Scottish, having outplayed their illustrious opponents, were in front going into injury- time; again they had to endure the torment of a Bath player lining up a penalty kick.

In fact there were two such kicks, but unlike Jon Callard last year, who had landed an injury-time goal to pip Scottish by a point, this time Mike Catt's two attempts failed. But it was almost too much for Simon Fenn. He had managed to put behind him the now notorious ear-biting incident, when the Bath prop Kevin Yates was found guilty of biting the London Scottish flanker's left lobe, but there was no getting away from the tie completely. The echoes of the past returned to haunt him during the six minutes of added time.

"I did think about about the Cup tie last year," Fenn confessed. "It all came flooding back when Catt was taking those two penalties." But the Australian-born Fenn denied that the dark side of last year's tie had been on his mind. The memory of teeth sinking into his anatomy was not what motivated either himself or his team-mates.

Even so, the Exiles did use last year's match as a motivational aid. "The defeat was more of a driving factor than anything else," Fenn admitted.

His fellow Australian Iain McAusland backed Fenn, saying: "This win was particularly sweet for me because it was my error last year in not making touch which led to the winning penalty. That memory has stayed with me. It was a big mistake. We felt we owed Bath something."

Bath, the Premiership leaders, were certainly repaid in full. A case of the biter bit perhaps. Although the only chunks flying around were lumps of turf from the lush green Stoop Memorial Ground pitch during a particularly attritional spell when Bath were awarded eight scrums on the Scottish line.

That series of scrums was probably one of Bath's best periods and produced their solitary try. There was very little else though for them to crow about. The Scottish back-row of the gargantuan Rob Hunter, the canny captain Simon Holmes and the fearless Fenn were not so much in their faces as up the Bath noses for much of the time. The Exiles' front five refused to budge and the backs showed nous and nerve.

The left-wing Conan Sharman's eighth-minute try would have looked good on firm going. In the swamp against Bath it was positively brilliant. He powered through after the Bath backs had missed a tackle on Ronnie Eriksson, McAusland darted into the line and fed the burly Sharman.

There were plenty of happy faces later as Scottish fans and players celebrated their second win of the season. One Scottish member, Kate Holds- worth, was brandishing a joke ear, on which she had painted some blood. She was planning to present it to Fenn. The player himself said: "I'm not so sure about being presented with it. But I would rather joke about it now."

London Scottish: Try Sharman; Conversion McAusland; Penalties McAusland 2. Bath: Try Nicol; Penalties Catt 2.

London Scottish: I McAusland; K Milligan, R Davies, R Eriksson (J Bonney, 62-66), C Sharman (D Lee, 73); S Binns, G Easterby; P Johnstone (M MacDonald, 68), D Rudham (P Robertson, 25), P Burnell, E Jones (J Bonney, 80), M Watson (M McAtamney, 43), S Fenn, R Hunter (G Manson-Bishop, 65), S Holmes.

Bath: M Perry; I Evans, P de Glanville (K Maggs, 73), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, S Hatley (A Nicol, 45); K Yates (D Hilton, 73), M Regan, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, N Thomas, E Peters, R Webster.

Referee: S Savage (RFU).