Paterson kicks Scots past Bath snow-hopers

Edinburgh 9 Bath 6
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The Independent Online

In the second quarter here it was like peering into a crystal ball, such was the thickness of the swirling snow. If Steve Meehan and his Bath team were staring into the future, they did not have to look for very long to glimpse their fate. By the final whistle their chances of making the last eight of the Heineken Cup had disappeared into the realms of mathematical improbability.

Bath's best hope of prolonging a serious interest in the competition would have been if the white stuff had become severe enough to force an abandonment – or perhaps, in their case, an Abendanonment. Unfortunately for them, the snowstorm relented and the Pool Four match concluded with Nick Abendanon, their full-back, on the losing side.

The margin on the scoreboard was three points, Chris Paterson having kicked the decisive penalty midway through the second half – making it three out of three for the Edinburgh full-back on his 50th Heineken Cup appearance. In reality, Bath were well-beaten. Not once in the 80 minutes did they create an attacking opportunity.

"I don't think I've seen a game played with that amount of snow falling," Meehan, Bath's Australian head coach, said afterwards. "Having said that, it was the same for everyone and the field cleared. In the second half Edinburgh's execution led to them getting more opportunities. They were more precise in their play."

They were, indeed – although only relatively. The home side took the lead with a Paterson penalty but were unable to capitalise on the pressure they generated in the first quarter, butchering a couple of line-outs in one corner and Nick De Luca failing to locate Tim Visser in the other with a pass the 6ft 5in Dutch winger might have caught – had he been a foot taller.

Then came the snowstorm, the slips under foot and the dropped passes. The snow was so heavy that Nicky Little, who had kicked an equalising penalty, could hardly see the posts when he lined up a second effort from 35 metres. To his credit, Bath's Fijian fly-half managed to steer his kick through the uprights, and soon after Paterson succeeded with a 40-yarder at the other end, the snow piling up on top of his head as he levelled the scores at 6-6.

Thankfully, the skies cleared after the interval but the opening quarter repeated itself as Edinburgh piled on the pressure without finding any penetration. Phil Godman, their international fly-half, squandered one excellent opportunity with an ill-judged and ill-weighted kick to the left corner while attackers queued up outside him.

Still, the Scots had Paterson's trusty right boot in their locker. Just after the hour, the Edinburgh captain kicked a penalty from wide on the right after Danny Grewcock picked up a spilled ball from an offside position. Bath had their chances thereafter but, Little having departed to the stands, Ryan Davis and Jack Cuthbert missed penalties. It was an afternoon when the West Countrymen were well short of the mark.

Edinburgh C Paterson (capt); J Houston, B Cairns, N De Luca (J Thompson, 60), T Visser; P Godman, G Laidlaw; K Traynor (A Jacobsen, 50), R Ford, G Cross, S Turnbull, C Hamilton (F McKenzie, 61), A MacDonald, S Newlands, R Rennie (D Callam, 61).

Bath N Abendanon (J Cuthbert, 66); M Stephenson, M Carraro, S Hape, T Cheeseman; N Little (R Davis, 66), M Claasens (capt; S Bemand, 77); D Flatman (N Catt, 77), P Dixon (L Mears, 54), D Wilson (D Bell, 63), S Hooper (D Grewcock, 54), P Short, A Beattie (B Skirving, 63), L Watson, J Salvi.

Referee: R Poite (France).