Jeremy Guscott's career for Bath, England and the Lions has been filled with countless moments of sublime skill and invention. In 222 appearances for his club, the centre has scored 119 tries, but few have been executed with the pace and precision of the score that condemned struggling Bristol to a 14th consecutive Courage League defeat at the hands of their West Country neighbours.
The 44th-minute try again raised a large question mark against his omission from the England side to face France on Saturday. It began in his own half, as the 31-year-old took a Phil de Glanville pass to power through a gap. The magic was in the subtlest of dummies that wrong-footed the full-back, Paul Hull, and left Guscott with just a hint of a gap on the outside, room enough for him to beat three defenders to the corner.
If the England coach, Jack Rowell, is content to leave his "prince of centres" on the bench, few expect Guscott to miss out on a third Lions tour this summer. The player himself is more cautious. "It's nice to be in the 62-man Lions squad but it's making the final 32 that counts," he said.
For Bristol supporters, their admiration of Guscott's virtuosity was matched only by their frustration at seeing Bath snatch the points again despite being outplayed up front.
It was also a red-letter day for another of Bath's old-timers, Nigel Redman, celebrating his 300th appearance with a first-half try. That 19th- minute score was cancelled out before half-time by two Paul Burke penalties and a try from the promising young flanker, Craig Short, to leave the home side 13-8 ahead.
However, two Jon Callard penalties on the wind and a superb conversion of Guscott's try turned the tables and Bath marched back to second place in the table.
The Bristol captain, Martin Corry, another in the preliminary Lions squad, and he cut a majestic figure in the last quarter. But Corry may be ruing a decision to run a close-range penalty instead of opting for a scrum which could well have yielded a penalty try.
Bristol: Tries Short. Conversions Burke. Penalties Burke 2. Bath: Tries Guscott, Redman. Conversions Callard. Penalties Callard 2.
Bristol: P Hull; B Breeze, M Denney, F Waters, K Maggs; P Burke, R Jones; D Hinkins, M Regan, K Fulman, C Eagle, S Shaw, M Corry (capt), E Rollitt, C Short.
Bath: J Callard; M Perry, P de Glanville (capt), J Guscott, J Sleightholme; M Catt (R Butland, 80), C Harrison; K Yates, F Mendez, J Mallett, M Haag, N Redman, R Webster, D Lyle, A Robinson.
Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).Reuse content