Barkley adds to pride of Bath

Bath 18 Harlequins 1

By David Llewellyn
Sunday 23 November 2003 01:00

Bath must be a quiet place to be today after its citizens shouted themselves hoarse yesterday. Between mouthfuls of bacon baps they had cheered England to victory from the Recreation Ground clubhouse at breakfast time, then they found 14 more local heroes in need of their valuable vocal support after lunch.

Bath strengthened their position at the top of the Zurich Premiership with a thunderous win over Harlequins, who, despite having an extra man for more than half of this pulsating game, failed to use that advantage.

It was not pretty, but it was pretty impressive. Ollie Barkley moved imperiously past the 150-points mark in the Premiership with a perfect six out of six penalty kicks that denied Quins the consolation even of a bonus point for staying within seven points of their conquerors.

The sell-out 9,980 crowd (most of whom had been on the ground before breakfast, or so it seemed) had been prematurely silenced when the Bath flanker Michael Lipman was sent off for illegal and ungentlemanly use of the boot on Pat Sanderson in the 33rd minute. At that point things did not look good for the home side, and as for Lipman, it was just not the former Australia Under-21 player's day.

Fortunately for him Barkley was able to keep them in the hunt initially and ultimately to seal victory and help Bath increase their lead at the top of the table. Careless Quins gave away crucial penalties at critical times, and lost their lead when Barkley thumped over his third penalty to give Bath cheer going in at the break.

The fly-half gave them more reasons to be cheerful after the break with three further kicks. Bath owed a great deal to their pack, the Magnificent Seven handling the eight of Quins with ease.

Lipman's remaining back-row colleagues, Zak Feaunati and Andy Beattie, were nothing short of outstanding in the loose and at the breakdown, frustrating Harlequins, and denying them a glimpse of a gap. As for the front five, and their eventual replacements, they played like 10 men. They gave of the best and it proved too good for their dispirited opponents. For their part, nothing appeared to be going right for the London side, who lost Paul Burke's services early in the second half.

The joy in the clubhouse as the Bath faithful witnessed three of their players, Mike Tindall, Iain Balshaw and Mike Catt, collect their World Cup winners' medals was echoed when referee Roy Maybank ended proceedings after some seven minutes of added time.

Bath: M Perry; W Human, A Higgins, R Kydd (K Maggs, 66), S Danielli; O Barkley, M Wood; D Flatman (M Stevens, 70), J Humphreys (capt, L Mears, 72), D Bell, S Borthwick, R Fidler, A Beattie, I Feaunati, M Lipman.

Harlequins: G Duffy; S Keogh, C Bell, M Deane, U Monye; P Burke (A Dunne, 47), B Willis; C Jones (M Worsley, 58), T Fuga, J Dawson (L Gomez, 64), B Davison (K Rudzki, 58), J Evans, P Sanderson, T Diprose (R Winters, 64), A Vos.

Referee: R Maybank (Orpington).

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