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THE Divisional Championship divides the rugby nation. Depending upon whom you happen to be talking to, English opinion varies from loathing it to lumping it. In the South West, the problem has been complicated by a divided division, with the players from Bath, Bristol and Gloucester tending to pull apart rather than together.
Last season, though, they got their act together under Stuart Barnes and ended up winning the title for the first time. Yesterday, then, it was no surprise to see a dozen Bath men going about their business on their own pitch.
It seemed to be working again, too, against more cosmopolitan visitors who initially had to get acquainted. 'Get back here, Harvey,' Simon Hodgkinson shouted to Thorneycroft, the wing. Hodgkinson had nothing to shout about approaching the quarter-hour, however, as the South West poured on the pace off a line- out won by Andy Blackmore.
Victor Ubogu tidied up and drove, and next thing Nick Beal broke round Hodgkinson to give Audley Lumsden a clear run to the line. Within five minutes Ubogu charged again and, after a swift passing movement, Beal was put over on the right.
Even without theinjured Barnes, not to mention Ben Clarke and Jeremy Guscott, the South West were proving too much of a handful for a Neil Back-less Midlands, and one man in particular was having a storming match. They used to say that if Ubogu could scrummage, he would be dangerous. He has worked hard on this area, while in other matters he would have had Jeff Probyn eating his heart out. Ubogu loves nothing better than to get his hands on the ball and run at the opposition. And he was at it again before the break to make a second try for Lumsden.
All this left the Midlands with a lot of catching up to do, Hodgkinson having had a brief say when he let his boot do the talking with a penalty off the crossbar. Jonathan Callard, meanwhile, kept the South West ticking over at the start of the second half, a couple of penalties stretching the lead to 20. He was also on hand to give Adedayo Adebayo a scoring pass for the South West's fourth try following a rampaging pick-up from Steve Ojomoh. Suffice to say that the Midlands did not enjoy their dip at Bath in front of England's manager, Geoff Cooke.
SOUTH WEST: J Callard; A Adebayo, P de Glanville (all Bath), N Beal (Northampton), A Lumsden; M Catt (both Bath), K Bracken (Bristol); C Clark, G Dawe, V Ubogu, N Redman (all Bath), A Blackmore (Bristol), J Hall (capt), S Ojomoh, A Robinson (all Bath).
MIDLANDS: S Hodgkinson (Moseley); S Hackney, S Potter, I Bates (all Leicester), H Thorneycroft (Northampton); P Challinor (Harlequins), M Dawson (Northampton); G Rowntree (Leicester), J Olver (Northampton), D Garforth (Leicester), J Phillips (Northampton), S Lloyd (Moseley), C Barrow (Bristol), D Richards (Leicester, capt), C Millhouse (Northampton). Replacements: A Kardooni (Leicester) for Dawson, 33 min; J Harris (Leicester) for Hodgkinson, 58 min.
Referee: D Matthews (St Helens).
Scores: Lumsden (try, 14 min, 5-0); Beal / Callard (try/conv, 18 min, 12-0); Hodgkinson (pen, 22 min, 12-3); Lumsden (try, 35 min,
17-3); Callard (pen, 44 min, 20-3); Callard (pen, 51 min, 23-3); Adebayo (try, 62 min,
28-3); Callard (pen, 75 min, 31-3).Reuse content