Bath 28 London Irish 33: Ojo rips through Bath's soft centre

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The Independent Online

Bath used to be famous for its buns and its Olivers - yesterday thanks to a half-baked first-half performance by the city's rugby team, you could add turnovers to that collection of pastries.

Four soft first-half tries did not just hand a bonus point and, ultimately, victory to London Irish but left the West Country side looking vulnerable at the wrong end of the Guinness Premiership table.

This dismal performance ended a mini winning streak of two games and Bath have only themselves to blame. Slack defence let in the Exiles' No 8 Juan-Manuel Leguizamon off a close-range scrum and it went downhill after that.

The Bath error count was off the scale. They did mount attacks, but they invariably broke down with the ball lost in contact or through wild passes in a catalogue of carelessness. Topsy Ojo, the Tottenham-born Exiles' right wing, was handed two easy tries. The first followed a quick throw-in after which Ojo danced through half a dozen poor attempts at tackles and completed a 40-metre run-in.

His second was even softer, an interception of the England hooker Lee Mears' intended pass to prop Duncan Bell. It was a shame for Mears who had a wonderful match, displaying his superlative handling skills and the threat he poses in the loose.

The score before that had seen Faan Rautenbach swoop on the ball when Bell lost it in contact to end a promising Bath attack. The ball flew out via Riki Flutey to the fleet-footed Delon Armitage and the London Irish full-back rounded off a 60-metre sprint with a touchdown.

All Bath had to show was a pair of penalties by Chris Malone. But all that changed after the turnaround. Their backsides still smarting from half-time, Bath sailed into the Irish. Danny Grewcock won a line-out and Gareth Delve on the peel shouldered his way over. Six minutes later Mears crashed through for another try. With Malone's conversion of the Delve try and a later penalty Bath were right back in the match within 16 minutes of the restart.

But the Exiles found their second wind and began to counter every subsequent Bath thrust and finally found a way through when Sailosi Tagicakibau was put over in the corner in the 77th minute and Flutey's conversion appeared to have taken recovery out of Bath's reach.

They battled back and under pressure Irish conceded a penalty. Steve Borthwick collected the ball before Malone fed Alex Crockett, who sliced through on a perfect angle to touch down for a third try. But Malone's conversion merely added to the excitement. Exiles were safe and Bath were left with just one point for finishing so close.

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, ht), D Coetzee (D Paice, 64), F Rautenbach (Hatley, 80-85), R Casey (P Gustard, 40-45 & 60), N Kennedy, K Roche, O Magne (K Dawson, 75), J-M Leguizamon (P Murphy, 57).

Referee: S Davey (Sussex).

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