Catt leads the Bath advance as Edinburgh fall apart

Edinburgh 6 Bath 37
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The Independent Online

Bath have reserved their best form of the season for the Heineken Cup. After shaky beginnings when they lost their first four Premiership matches in succession, they remain unbeaten in Europe, defeating an unimaginative Edinburgh side at Myreside last night with plenty to spare.

With only a tricky visit to Swansea to come, Bath ought to go on and ensure a home quarter-final tie in January.

They owed their success to the guiding hand of Mike Catt, who was named man of the match and scored one of their four tries, and the kicking of Matt Perry, who had a personal tally of 22 points from a try, three penalties and conversions to all Bath's tries.

Not much has gone Edinburgh's way this season. They failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Celtic League and are one place off the bottom of the Welsh/Scottish League with only two wins. Given the importance of the two Scottish Districts to the national side, it is a measure of Edinburgh's current form that only six of the side have made Ian McGeechan's squad of 26 for Scotland's upcoming games against Tonga, Argentina and New Zealand.

Not considered were their outstanding flanker, Simon Taylor, who underwent surgery to his right knee during the week, or full-back, Chris Paterson; both were sorely missed last night.

By opting to start with Gordon Ross at outside-half, rather than the more experienced Duncan Hodge, Frank Hadden, the Edinburgh coach, appeared to have pulled a masterstroke. Ross, a newcomer to the Scotland squad, banged over two early penalties and Edinburgh were composed and coherent in attack and defence. They were also scrummaging well, and their line-out was working effectively, giving Steve Borthwick and Danny Grewcock an assortment of problems.

It started to go wrong for the Scots when Craig Smith interfered with play from a blatantly off-side position, giving referee Alan Lewis no alternative but to send the prop to the sin-bin.

Perry, who had kicked one penalty, added another for that piece of stupidity, and then slotted a third from bang in front of the posts. Smith's return was greeted with a splendid try. A Bath try.

Perry, using Iain Balshaw as a decoy, crossed on the right. Within four minutes, Tom Voyce, who had scored tries in each of Bath's earlier Heineken games, accelerated away from the remnants of the Edinburgh cover after a mazy run. Perry converted both scores, and Bath went in 23-6 to the good at the interval.

It took Bath a while to rediscover their attacking form after the break, but once they did it was Catt, with a sublime try which he ran in from 30 metres, who did the damage. Once Gavin Thomas had completed a decent evening's work with a try under the crossbar, there was no way back for Edinburgh and the bagpipes were silenced for good.

Edinburgh: C Howarth; C Murray, M Di Rollo, K Utterson, C Sharman: G Ross, G Burns (capt); J Branningan, S Scott, C Smith, R Metcalfe, N Hines, A Dall, M Taylor, G Dall.

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, O Barkley, T Voyce; M Catt, A Williams; D Barnes, M Regan, J Mallett, S Borthwick, D Grewcock, G Thomas, M Gabey, D Lyle (capt).

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).