Harlequins 9 Bath 3: Jarvis keeps Quins' heads above water

Borthwick's return becomes the dampest squib for swamped Bath

At the end of this old-fashioned mudfest the crowd reacted as if Harlequins had won the World Cup. The sheer volume and expression of celebration was an extraordinary reaction to a mundane victory by three penalties to one. There again Quins, relegated the season before last, had recorded their sixth win from eight league matches following a wretched start to the season and what was witnessed at the end may have been a sign of sheer relief that it is somebody else's turn to drop below sea level.

Dean Richards, Quins' director of rugby, was so delighted at the club's run of success that he popped open bottles of champagne in the dressing room afterwards and handed them all to the forwards. Player of the match? He said: "They were one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight."

It was Sod's Law, of course, that just before the start the overcast heavens opened and the Stoop became so saturated it could have been used for growing rice. Steve Borthwick, the Bath captain injured since the second week of the season, could have chosen a better time to launch his comeback.

Although they have beaten Quins twice this season in the European Challenge Cup, Bath have become one of the Premiership's most inconsistent sides. Just before the start they reshuffled their backs, a response to the weather, although they could have fielded seven cardboard cut-outs and it would not have made that much difference.

Bath have been regular visitors to A&E and their cause was not helped yesterday by the absence of Danny Grewcock and Lee Mears, who both received one-week bans for the offence of stamping. Richards pointed out beforehand that his club's disciplinary performance had improved to the extent that they were conceding fewer than 10 penalties per game and that, he said, was in stark contrast to Bath.

Richards was making the point for a purpose and as it happened the penalty count against Bath was in the ratio of 2:1. Adrian Jarvis - what a handy replacement he is for Andrew Mehrtens - kicked three penalties to one by Olly Barkley. Barkley sometimes plays stand-off, sometimes centre and yesterday he found himself at full-back in place of Michael Stephenson, who moved to the wing. It was like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

There were no tries as the players struggled to keep their feet, catch the ball and pass and kick it in the right direction. The closest the match came to a touchdown was midway through the first half when Jarvis, cleverly adapting to the conditions, put in a neat grubber kick inside the Bath 22. The match cried out for such wet-weather tactics and this one left Barkley all at sea. He lost possession as he slid and splashed towards the ball, David Strettle hacked on over the line and in the ensuing race between Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown and Stephenson the latter was judged by the referee, Dave Pearson, to be the winner. He might have called for the assistance of a video official but as the match was not being televised that option was not available to him.

Quins had taken the lead in the third minute, when the Bath defence was lured offside and Jarvis kicked a straightforward penalty from about 30 yards. Every and any point on the board would be invaluable as a monsoon-like downpour descended.

There was one genuine threequarter move executed with skill and pace and that was when Jarvis's inside pass was taken by Strettle and the right wing - he scored a hat-trick in the impressive victory over Newcastle on New Year's Day - fed Turner-Hall, who could not elude Bath's last line of defence.

The Quins pack were a tighter, more cohesive unit. They had the upper hand in the line-out and their driving from the back row was exactly what was required under the circumstances. Behind them Jarvis and his scrum-half Danny Care also adapted better to the conditions. In the 33rd minute Care put in a perfectly judged kick to the right-hand corner; Bath's throw at the line-out was crooked and at the ensuing scrum they were penalised for not binding in the marsh. Jarvis landed the goal and at half-time Quins held a 6-0 lead.

It was by no means watertight, especially after Barkley cut the deficit to three points, but on the hour the game was up for Bath when the prop David Barnes was shown a yellow card for bringing down a maul. While the chairman of the Professional Rugby Players' Association was in the sin-bin Jarvis kicked the resultant penalty to re-establish the status quo and that was quite enough, thank you.

Harlequins: M Brown; D Strettle (U Monye, 40), S Abbott, J Turner-Hall, S Keogh; A Jarvis, D Care; A Croall, T Fuga, M Ross, O Kohn, N Spanghero, A Vos, N Easter, P Volley (capt).

Bath: O Barkley; J Maddock, C Walker, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, M Stephenson; S Berne (C Malone, 65), A Williams (N Walshe, 51); D Barnes, P Dixon (R Hawkins, 58), T Sigley, S Borthwick (capt), H Louw (P Short, 49), A Beattie (R Fidler, 71), I Feau'nati, J Scaysbrook (G Delve, 51).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific