New improved Grewcock echoes past greatness

Bath 39 Bourgoin 12

Wrong on both counts, it transpires. Connolly says he is very definitely heading back to Queensland over the next few days, although he may well resurface at the Recreation Ground sooner rather than later. As for Welsh, the West Country club have no intention of releasing him a day earlier than necessary, despite the things they are saying down Pretoria way. Why would they? The man is playing out of his socks.

More importantly, a third myth was exploded during the course of Saturday's thoroughly convincing four-try ravaging of a side good enough to have won six of their opening nine games in the French domestic championship: the one that paints Bath as a blacker than black, forward-obsessed, route-one bunch of rugger-thugs who possess neither the desire or the expertise to stretch their game beyond the bog-standard disciplines of scrum, line-out, ruck and maul. At the weekend, the 1998 champions produced some terrific stuff, and the fact that all four of their tries were scored by tight forwards did not detract one iota from their sense of adventure.

This was not a new Bath; rather, their performance was eerily reminiscent of some of those that marked the high points of the golden era that ended a decade ago, when they habitually softened up opponents in the first hour of a contest before letting rip in the last 20. The John Halls and Nigel Redmans - and, yes, the Andy Robinsons - would have recognised the magnificence of Danny Grewcock's all-round contribution, of Andy Beattie's rugged display in the enforcer's role, of Matt Stevens' potent ball-carrying in the heavy traffic. They would have enjoyed it, too, blood being thicker than water.

Last season, Bourgoin shamed themselves and the tournament by sacrificing their European ambitions in an effort to maximise their fortunes in Le Championnat; indeed, their couldn't-care-less performances against Treviso at home and Leinster in Dublin were a stain on the good name of professional club rugby.

They had, however, given it a proper go against Bath in the opening round of that competition, and were similarly gung-ho on their return to the Georgian city. It is inconceivable that the likes of Benôit Cabello and Wessel Jooste could work as hard as this without giving a damn.

In fact, Bourgoin were still in the shake-up at 16-12 with less than a quarter of an hour left on the clock, but Bath, with Olly Barkley operating with considerable class at outside-half after shifting from inside centre to cover for the stricken Chris Malone, were beginning to run hot by then. Sure enough, Stevens completed a blinding try, started by the powerful Lee Best some 100 metres back in his own in-goal area, to give his side the cushion they craved, and thus, freed from all care, they ran the Frenchmen ragged.

The final try fell to Grewcock - a new, space-loving, side-stepping, ball-distributing Grewcock who looked every inch the international player everyone thought he no longer was when he bowed out of the Lions tour of New Zealand with another suspension on his record. This was the second time in a fortnight he had stampeded around the Rec like a world-beater. If there is a better second-row forward in England right now, he is playing behind closed doors.

Bath: Tries Borthwick, Stevens, Hudson, Grewcock. Conversions Barkley 2. Penalties Barkley 5. Bourgoin: Penalties Peclier 3, Boyet.

Bath: L Best (A Williams, 78); S Finau, T Cheeseman, O Barkley, F Welsh; C Malone (R Davis, 48), M Wood; M Stevens, L Mears (P Dixon, 66), D Bell (C Loader, 78), S Borthwick (capt; J Hudson, 74), D Grewcock, A Beattie (M Lipman, 59), J Scaysbrook, G Delve (I Fea'unati, 57).

Bourgoin: A Peclier (A Forest, 62); D Janin, J-F Coux (I Giorgadze, 62), G Davis, N Carmona; B Boyet, M Forest (capt); O Milloud, B Cabello, P Peyron (P Cardinali, 53), J Pierre, C Del Fava (A Mazel, 53), A Diotallevi, L Baluc-Rittener (B Monzeglio, 53), W Jooste.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).

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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower