A comprehensive guide to the Pilkington Cup final

Paul Trow
Saturday 27 April 1996 23:02

Andy Robinson

on Bath Jon Callard

Has had an outstanding season - he's worked hard on his game and come a long way since 1990 when Jack Rowell said: 'That man will never kick for Bath again.' It gives you great confidence to know he is at the back.

Jon Sleightholme

Has played his best rugby this year and fully deserved his England call- up. Has grown in confidence since joining Bath last summer - our only initial worry about him was that he had all this pace but kept running into opponents.

Phil de Glanville

Has been outstanding in everything he has done this season. We were unsure what he would be like as captain a year ago but he has led by example and matured into the role. Few weaknesses as a player - a good reader of the game who makes the right decisions and provides inspiration.

Jeremy Guscott

Jewel in our crown - rarely seen on the training pitch. Had a great season but we have to do remedial work when he comes back from England matches as he never sees the ball with them. There is no better defensive centre in the world. May be doubtful for final, though, after recurrence of thigh injury.

Adebayo Adedayo

A Nigerian prince who has never had to want for anything. Has scored some fabulous tries this season from inside his own 22 when it looked as though there was nothing on. Has fantastic strength and tackles powerfully.

Mike Catt

We call him Mr Average after what he said about Francois Pienaar. Has grown up this year after disappointing game against South Africa. For the last month he has played some fantastic rugby at fly-half. Has the opportunity to take centre stage on Saturday.

Andy Nicol

To come back from the injuries he has had is incredible. A good all-round player with great dedication and ability. Works hard on his game and never gives up. Will thrive in the rugby league game against Wigan.

David Hilton

Known as McJock because of his broad Bristol accent. The worst dressed man in Bath but a vastly improved player since he moved from Bristol. Strong scrummager with a powerful game in the loose.

Graham Dawe

He may say he is 36, but we think he is really 39 and has lied about his age. A class player and fitness fanatic. Should have won many more England caps. But there always seemed to be an excuse not to pick him - one was that the forwards didn't like a left-handed thrower at the line outs.

John Mallett

Has come back well from a back injury - has huge upper body strength and looks as though he spends all his spare time in the weights room.

Nigel Redman

The new laws that allow lifting in line-outs will help "Ollie". Has a dry sense of humour and the memory of an elephant. Good all-round lock who makes an awful lot of tackles, many of which I claim because I am almost as bald as he is and people sometimes get us mixed up.

Martin Haag

At the club since he was 18 and always first on the pitch at training. If there were no Martin Johnson, then Martin would be in the England team. Probably the best handler of the ball of all the locks in the country.

Ben Clarke

Had ankle ligament trouble after last week's match against Gloucester but is likely to play on Saturday. His charges up the pitch will be vital to us. Everyone at Bath has enormous respect for Ben - a tremendous personality.

Steve Ojomoh

Of all the players I wish I could swap my physique with it would be Steve. He is an unbelievable athlete but a bit lazy.

Eric Peters

Has worked very hard this season to secure a regular first team place. Has good hands and is very physical in the tackle.

Definitely past it and lucky to be in the team. This has been my best season for Bath because the open style we have tried to play has really suited me. I have stayed fit all season and really enjoyed myself. I feel I am a better player than when I was an England regular because I am more experienced. Aadel Kardooni

on Leicester John Liley

Gets headlines due to his place-kicking, but also has pace and is a great attacking full-back. Good all-rounder, as he proved when standing in at fly-half in league games this season against Wasps. Needs to improve his defence.

Steve Hackney

One of the country's quickest wings who scores spectacular tries (like the one against the World XV last Sunday). Unfortunately his international career has been confined to England A. His pace and ability to counter- attack cause real problems.

Stuart Potter

Like Steve Hackney, a former Nottingham player. Unlucky with a groin injury this year. Strong and quick with solid defence and ability to run.

Richie Robinson

Joined Leicester a couple of years ago from a local club side. Clinched his place last year with a fantastic performace against Bath.

Rory Underwood

His fitness and sharpness improve as the season progresses, and he is training harder. Powerful - he scores lots of tries while carrying opposition players over the line with him. His defence is often better for Leicester than England - maybe he takes on more responsibility. Favourite for club captain next season.

Niall Malone

Needs to be on top of his game - sometimes loses confidence in his ability. If people can read what he is thinking he's incredible, but often they can't. Great speed off the mark - beats men easily and throws out huge passes like a rugby league player.

Jez Harris

Typical one-club man has had numerous rivals over the years - Les Cusworth, Gerry Ainscough, Brian Smith and now Niall Malone - yet has never had any desire to leave Leicester. Reliable place-kicker who scores goals.

Aadel Kardooni

Who's he? There's been speculation about my future next season since the signing of Austin Healey from Orrell, but he's got to fight for his place and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Graham Rowntree

Should have become an England regular before this season but being made to wait probably did him good. Tremendously strong for such a young player and yet very mobile. A real modern prop and home-grown Leicester product.

Richard Cockerill

Great ability to motivate the players and very articulate for a front- row forward. Keeps going until he drops. Sometimes told to curb behaviour because he is so competitive. Unlucky not to play for England this year - would be ideal replacement for Brian Moore.

Darren Garforth

Unsung hero of this team. Fantastic footballing skills for a prop. Scores tries, sells dummies, puts in as many tackles as a back-row forward yet is impressively injury-resistant and powerfully built. Nicknamed OJ (after Oddjob).

Martin Johnson

The best player in his position in the world - went to New Zealand at 19 for a couple of seasons and they wanted him back as an All Black. Jumps at the front of the line-out and has great understanding with Richard Cockerill which opponents seem unable to do anything about.

Matt Poole

Has been unfortunate not to do himself justice on two England tours. Wins more than his fair share of lineout ball and is surprisingly mobile for his size.

John Wells

Club captain when we beat Harlequins in the Cup final two years ago. Seems to play better the older he gets and is one of those guys who gets through a lot of work without really being noticed.

Neil Back

Class player with great speed, fitness and handling skills. Puts in tackle after tackle and always bounces up off the floor for more. Has unluckily fallen foul of England's commitment to a certain type of game, but could still do a good job at international level.

Dean Richards

True value shown when Jack Rowell was forced to swallow his pride and pick him for England. If he had played throughout the game in Paris, we'd have won the Grand Slam because he is such a feared opponent. The figureheads: Men behind the Twickenham rivals John Hall

The 34-year-old was appointed Bath's director of rugby after ending his playing career last season. Formerly a blind-side flanker who would have won many more than 21 England caps had his career not been disrupted by injuries and selectorial inconsistencies. Archetypal club man - his father and grandfather both played for Bath - and one of the main driving forces behind the five Courage league titles and nine Pilkington Cup triumphs achieved during his time as a player at the Recreation Ground. Peter Wheeler

Chief executive of Leicester RFC and very much the dominant figure as the senior clubs in England increasingly assert themselves in their dealings with the Rugby Football Union. During the 48-year-old's distinguished playing career as one of the world's greatest hookers he was capped 41 times by England and a further seven times by the British Lions on tours to New Zealand and South Africa. Helped Leicester to three Pilkington Cup triumphs in a row from 1979 and captained both club and country with great distinction. How Bath can beat Leicester Clarke's charge

Many of Bath's brightest moves emanate from the space and chaos resulting from a dynamic charge upfield by Ben Clarke. The No 8 likes to stand apart from the first phase of forward driving in order to receive the ball with space available. He drives ahead towards the opposition fly-half in the hope of sucking in the few remaining covering forwards and several of the opposition backs. Clarke's strength and skill usually enable him to fall correctly and feed his scrum-half the opportunity to spin the ball out wide. Catt's pace

Bath rely heavily on their backs to create openings and keep the scoreboard ticking over, and Mike Catt's ability to ride tackles and break at pace from a standing start at fly-half has given them opportunities they seemed to lack on the heavier pitches of February and March. A break by Catt usually draws the defence and creates the openings on which Jeremy Guscott and Phil de Glanville thrive. How Leicester can beat Bath Short line-out

When Leicester have the line-out, Richard Cockerill invariably throws to Martin Johnson, who jumps at No2 - a fast, hard throw to a strong, dominant target at the front does not risk losing possession. As Cockerill throws Johnson launches himself upwards, forwards and slightly across his opponent. The opposition know full well what is coming but seem powerless to intercept. Push-over try

A popular Leicester tactic that infuriates opponents and their supporters. The plan is that after considerable forward pressure, Leicester are awarded a scrum near the opposition line. Dean Richards takes control of the ball with his feet as it is channelled back. After steadying himself and ensuring the scrummage is rock solid, he steers his men forwards until either he, or his scrum-half, Aadel Kardooni, can pounce on the ball for a try. Twickenham 3pm, Saturday Live on Sky Sports, highlights BBC2 5pm

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