Bath 33 London Irish 18 match report: George Ford motors as Bath sink battling Irish before the half-time whistle

Young fly-half puts his hand up for England after leading first-half demolition of Irish

The Recreation Ground

England have three capped players to select at fly half for the autumn internationals and none of them is George Ford. Yet Ford, in one way or another, dominated the first half of this game, in which Bath scored five tries before resting on their laurels in the second period.

The youngster who moved from Leicester in the summer possesses skills that none of Toby Flood, Owen Farrell or Freddie Burns has. He scored a gorgeous individual try from 65 metres here, but it is the quality of his passing which marks him as a player of infinite promise – though there was also sufficient evidence to show that he is not yet ready to jump the queue at number 10.

Mike, his father and Bath’s head coach, is clearly reluctant to over-state Ford junior’s case. Not so Brian Smith, the London Irish director of rugby and a former England attack coach: “He’s tearing up trees as a ten,” Smith said. “George has a lot of control, you can see the way players rally round him, he’s a class act. If he keeps playing that way, I don’t think they [England] can ignore him.”

To be finicky, you could pick out from Ford’s game the misdirected kick to touch, the mis-hit conversion, even the tackle which gave Shane Geraghty – not the biggest of men – his first try. But his game mentality, combined with self-evident skills will carry him far despite his lack of inches in a land occupied by giants.

That Bath did not kick on after the interval is a concern, particularly since they were playing against 14 men for a quarter of the game. But they did wash away memories of the heavy loss to Saracens a week ago with a display of wit and strength against the monotone offerings of the Irish; they did so, moreover, despite losing Dave Atwood and Anthony Watson to injury in the first 16 minutes.

Ford laid on the first try with a delightful pass to Jonathan Joseph, who stretched out a long arm to score, but the Irish were clearly disconcerted by the award of the second try. Peter Stringer stabbed a rolling ball into the corner and Topsy Ojo appeared to usher it out, the touch judge signalling a throw-in to the Irish; but Ford grabbed the ball and threw in to Guy Mercer who cantered over unopposed.

After inspection of the video, the try was allowed and Ford promptly offered his pièce de résistance: given the ball near his own 10-metre line, the fly half jinked past Matt Parr, swerved away from Tomas O’Leary and had the speed and strength to hold off Marland Yarde and Alex Lewington in the race to the line.

It is a try that will feature in Aviva Premiership best-ofs at the season’s end and more followed. Ford prodded a penalty into the corner and Rob Webber scored at the back of a driving maul. Even though Geraghty stemmed the tide, Bath came again before the interval when Semesa Rokoduguni broke through in midfield and Mercer scored his second try with the Irish defence missing.

With David Paice in the sin bin for a punch which may have been a case of mistaken identity, the stage was set for Bath to run wild. But the work rate of the visitors seldom faltered, their midfield kept a damper on the two centres and the lineout gave them a platform.

No praise could be too high for Kieran Low, the Irish open-side flanker, and they pegged Bath back in terms of territory even though a second player, Jamie Hagan, received a yellow card. Geraghty chipped and gathered himself for a second try in the corner to give his side something to take away from the match, but this will be a long, long season for the Exiles.

Line-ups:

Bath: A Watson (O Devoto, 16); S Rokoduguni, J Joseph, K Eastmond (T Biggs, 75), M Banahan; G Ford, P Stringer (M Roberts, 70); P James (A Perenise, 60), R Webber (R Batty, 67), D Wilson, D Day (A Fa’osiliva, 41), D Attwood (capt; S Hooper, 5), M Garvey, G Mercer, L Houston.

London Irish: T Ojo; M Yarde, F Mulchrone, E Sheridan, A Lewington; S Geraghty, T O’Leary (captain; D Allinson, 68)), M Parr (J Yapp, 41), D Paice, L Halavatau (J Hagan, 41), N Rouse (I Gough, 52), J Sinclair (B Evans, 52), D Danaher (B Cowan, 41), K Low, O Treviranus.

Referee: L Pearce (Devon).

 

 

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there