Catt runs Quins ragged to inflict record loss

By Tim Glover
Saturday 29 April 2000 23:00

Bath cleary believe that if the Premiership is going to be decided on points and tries then they will be in with a big shout. The West Country thoroughbreds, who have hardly put a foot wrong since losing to Gloucester in the Tetley's Bitter Cup at the beginning of January, ran in 10 tries and in the process inflicted upon Harlequins a record defeat. In 1902, Quins had gone down to Oxford University 50-0, but the tries, and the players, were worth a lot less in those days.

The sun beat down on the Recreation Ground and a cap-acity crowd of 8,700, who retrieved their shirtsleeves out of mothballs for the occasion, lapped it up. Bath, of course, were in their element and none more so than Mike Catt. The stand-off looked as if he was playing in a Sevens tournament and, indeed, that was how he and his runners, and there are enough of them in this side, played it from the start.

They maintained the pressure on Leicester in the race for the Premiership - the clubs collide in an end-of-season dust-up on 21 May - with their ninth League win in a row.

It was vintage Bath and the only false note on another great afternoon for the club was the performance of the referee, Robin Goodliffe. Against such a scoreline, it seems churlish to question his decisions, but the fact remains that, although Bath do not need any pointers in enjoying the good life, and yesterday certainly needed no assistance from the referee, they got it none the less.

And he was particularly generous towards them when the match was being closely contested. For example, Quins had just scored a brilliant try of their own to make it 17-14 when Mike Tindall scored Bath's third try, though the move contained a pass that was not so much forward as precocious. It enabled Bath to finish the first half with 17 points in six minutes.

Leading 34-14 at the interval, they ran riot in the second half with six more tries. It was a marvellous display of pace and skill and before the end, when Lee Mears, the replacement hooker, sauntered over after finding himself at the end of an overlap the size of the Bristol Channel, Quins had run out of legs and defenders.

The London club, out of form, out of luck and out of every end-of-season hunt for silverware, did not go as quietly as the score suggests. Having conceded 50 points to Saracens on Easter Monday, they set out to give Bath a match and succeeded in doing so for an hour.

Bath were 10-0 up after 15 minutes, Dan Lyle breaking a couple of tackles and handing off Ben Gollings for the first try. Gollings has a lot to learn in defence, but showed enough in attack to suggest that he could become something special. The 19-year-old Cornishman bought a dummy by Catt, which resulted in a score for the stand-off, before scoring a try that even Bath would have admired. Brendon Daniel, who scored Quins' first try, made a midfield break before finding Gollings with an inside pass. The young fullback side-stepped Matt Perry and sprinted over from 45 yards.

Daren O'Leary opened the second half for Quins with their third try, and it did not look as if the stage was set for a massacre. But that is what we got as Bath stepped up the pace. For good measure from Mr Goodliffe, they were awarded a penalty try. It's called overkill.

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, P De Glanville (A Adebayo, 48), M Tindall; M Catt (S Berne, 62) J Preston (G Cooper, 58); V Ubogu (C Horsman, 69), M Regan (L Mears, 71) J Mallett, M Haag, S Borthwick, A Gardiner (G Thomas, 60), B Clarke (capt), D Lyle (B Sturnham, 54).

Harlequins: B Gollings; D O'Leary, G Delmotte, N Greenstock, B Daniel; G Rees (R Liley, 62), P Richards (H Harries, 71); D Barnes, C Ridgeway, J Leonard, G Llewellyn (capt), G Morgan, A Leach, C Shearsby, P Sanderson (R Jenkins, 60).

Referee: R Goodliffe (Yorkshire).

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