Bath 28 London Irish 33: Ojo gets satisfaction from speed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The old boys of Dartford Grammar School had a busy weekend. While Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were entertaining more than a million people on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Topsy Ojo was wowing a few thousand at the Recreation Ground in Bath.

The speedy Ojo will never gather moss, but his pace is likely to earn him a whole heap of tries if the way he scored his two on Saturday is anything to go by.

One was a softy, an interception of a well-advertised Bath pass, but the first was the result of a quickly taken throw-in by fellow London Irish Academy product Delon Armitage.

Ojo gathered the ball and then zigged and zagged his way upfield in a blur of motion to score his first Premiership try of the season. "It was a case of avoiding the big blokes who appeared in front of me and keep on running," he said.

The 20-year-old's performance earned praise from a former Bath player, Mike Catt, who now masterminds the London Irish back play. "Topsy is a fantastic runner," said Catt, whose wicked kicks, which used every updraught, eddy and swirl on The Rec to devastating effect, showed he has forgotten none of his local knowledge.

"Topsy's a very young player, but he has been exceptional for us and he has come on with every game he has played. His first score was a great try. That was one of the tries of the season. It was unbelievable."

So was the victory. Irish had arrived in Bath on the back of a sorry home defeat against Newcastle the previous week. Catt knew how important it was to bounce back, but Saturday's result was clearly unexpected.

"It is fantastic to be able to come down here and get five points," he said. "We needed a massive game after last week.

"The first half we were lucky with our tries," Catt added, "although we defended very well, we turned their ball over and we went in from there."

If the Exiles were sharp in that first 40 minutes, then Bath were dull-witted and prone to schoolboy errors. They were all stumbles and fumbles. If the ball was not lost in the tackle, then a pass, if not forward would be slung too wide or too high.

It brought a rebuke from the Bath head coach, Brian Ashton."In my opinion, we looked the more challenging side but we made too many silly errors which gifted them soft points," he said.

Bath also had nothing to contain the pace of the Irish back three of Sailosi Tagicakibau, Armitage and Ojo. Catt claimed: "This is one of the fastest back-three units in the Premiership."

However, Catt still has a soft spot for the club which launched his club and international career at the beginning of the 1990s. "The way Bath are chucking the ball around is fantastic. I think perhaps they need to vary their kicking game a little more. There were a couple of times when they could have pumped us 60 metres down the pitch, but they chose to run it and that is typical Brian Ashton.

"Brian has only been there a couple of months, already he has given the boys the freedom of the park. It is just a case of finding a happy medium between running and kicking."

Meanwhile the Dartford Grammar Old Boys roll on.

Bath: Tries Delve, Mears, Crockett; Conversions Malone 2; Penalties Malone 3. London Irish: Tries Leguizamon, Ojo 2, Armitage, Tagicakibau; Conversions Flutey 4.

Bath: M Stephenson ; F Welsh (A Williams, 68), A Crockett, E Fuimaono (J Maddock, h-t), D Bory; C Malone, N Walshe; M Stevens (T Filise, 79), L Mears, D Bell, S Borthwick (capt), D Grewcock (P Short, 79), A Beattie, M Lipman, G Delve.

London Irish: D Armitage (M Horak, 79); T Ojo, N Mordt, M Catt (capt), S Tagicakibau; R Flutey, P Hodgson (B Willis h-t); N Hatley (M Collins, h-t), D Coetzee (D Paice, 64), F Rautenbach (Hatley, 80+5), R Casey (P Gustard, 40-40+5 & 60), N Kennedy, K Roche, O Magne (K Dawson, 75), J-M Leguizamon (P Murphy, 57).

Referee: S Davey (Sussex).