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).

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

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high