Tindall targets Six Nations

Bath 47 - Treviso 7

By David Llewellyn
Monday 13 December 2004 01:00

Mike Tindall, one of 15 players on Bath's crazy casualty list, reckons he can recover for England's Six Nations Championship campaign.

The most optimistic of medical prognoses has had Tindall missing England's opening match, against Wales in Cardiff on 5 February, because of a stress fracture of his right foot. The England centre and vice-captain is also nursing a shoulder condition.

After watching Bath annihilate Treviso, Tindall said: "I've got two months out while the foot heals, and while waiting for that I will be in the gym building up the shoulder. It's a Lions year and I'd like to be fit for the start of the Six Nations. I am not being put under any pressure to have reconstruction surgery on my shoulder. If there is an element of gambling by me playing with my shoulder as it is, well, I have to do it."

There was no element of risk in Bath's performance, which reversed the previous week's upset in Italy despite the club being so short of fit and registered players that they could field only six replacements. That would not have been so many had they not press-ganged Andrew Higgins, the scorer of the first try, into playing when he should have been rested for a further week in order to recover fully from his own injury.

The injuries grew worse as the game progressed. The scrum-half Nick Walshe hobbled off after turning his left ankle and the centre Spencer Davey limped away with a calf strain. No wonder the head coach, John Connolly, called for a review of player registration for the Heineken Cup. "We had 21 players available today," said the burly Australian. He wants European Rugby Cup Ltd, the competition's ruling body, to scrap its limit of 34 players per club.

Instead, Connolly would like to see the authorities recognise players registered with their clubs by 1 July as eligible for all competitions, enabling clubs such as Bath, if hit by an injury crisis, to draft in their academy players.

The West Country team ran in five tries to leapfrog the Italians into second place, behind Leinster, in Pool Two. Bath were piping hot, and their forwards dominated completely to provide a stream of quality possession for the backs to use.

They were clinical in their finishing. Olly Barkley's 100 per cent kicking record - he converted all five tries and landed four penalties - further emphasised how good Bath were.

The performance raised questions over Bath's loss last week. Connolly had an explanation. "Last week the referee and touch judges had a big influence on the outcome," he said. "We were also better today. Now we need a bonus point from our next two games in January, which we have to win, at home to Leinster and away to Bourgoin, in order to be in with a chance of reaching the quarter finals."

They also need to avoid further injuries, or they could find themselves unable to field a starting XV.

Bath: Tries Higgins, Beattie, Fidler, Lipman, Bell; Conversions Barkley 5; Penalties Barkley 4. Treviso: Try Penalty try; Conversion Goosen.

Bath: O Barkley; A Higgins, A Crockett, S Davey (M Baxter, 55), B Daniel; C Malone, N Walshe (J Scaysbrook, 62); D Barnes (L Ovens, 74), L Mears, M Stevens (D Bell, 74), J Hudson, R Fidler (S Borthwick, 62), A Beattie (capt; D Ward, 72), G Lewis (D Ward, 41-55), M Lipman.

Treviso: B Williams; T Visentin (S Legg, 55), W Pozzebon (S Picone, 47), M Goosen, G Canale; F Smith, A Troncon (capt); G Faliva (F Sbaraglini, 68), F Ongaro (A Tejeda, 68), S Constanzo (J Mauro, 40), G Klerck, A Gritti (S Parisse, 47), E Pavanello (Parisse, 4-11), S Palmer (A Tejeda, 41-68; D Dal Maso, 72), S Orlando.

Referee: F Maciello (France).

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