FAN’S VIEW: Twickenham blues weekend for Bath Rugby and England
Bath Rugby supporter Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at The Rec...
Bath were unable to back-up their LV= Cup victory over Newport Gwent Dragons as they slipped quietly to a 21-12 defeat at The Stoop on Friday night in a game they will rightly think they should have won.
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea looked rather sheepish afterwards when asked about the performance of referee James Jones and his influence on a game in which the tedious penalty count ran 3-1 in the home side's favour.
He was particularly bullish, however, when justifiably praising his side's excellent second-half defensive performance as wave after wave of Bath's attacks broke upon the resilient barrier produced by his players.
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In truth, Bath did suffer at the hands of an unconvincing display by the officials. Some of the penalties against them were no doubt correct, of course, but as for the remainder they should have cottoned on to the interpretations of the referee much sooner than they did.
"When refereeing the scrum he tends to panic," was the verdict of a former member of both front rows and an explanation of why Bath were penalised so often at the set-piece. The home crowd, as much as the home team, cheered mightily in appreciation.
As well as their own indiscipline, Bath were accused of not using sufficient brawn or brain in a second-half in which they dominated both possession and territory. It seemed rather more a case of a distinct lack of precision in execution, unfortunately.
Across the A316 the following afternoon a pedestrian England team were completely outsmarted by an Australian side still basking in their humiliation at the hands of Les Bleus in Paris a week earlier.
Arguments both in favour and against the TMO referral system were deployed during the game, as England had two similar-looking 'dodgy' tries adjudicated upon.
Manu Tuilagi's was somewhat fortuitously awarded, while Thomas Waldrom's was not, althogh one of the decisions took far too long to be determined, much to the chagrin of the 82,000 present.
However, the real talking point surrounded a Berrick Barnes' penalty attempt. When the two touch judges failed to agree if the ball had crossed over the bar or not, Romain Poite must have been extremely grateful that he was able to go upstairs.
That incident left me almost as amazed as I was when it was announced on Monday that Bath's England under-20s fly-half, Tom Heathcote, had accepted Andy Robinson's invitation to change his allegiance and remember that he was born in Inverness.
So it's 'Tom O'Shanter' from now on, and many caps to come I shouldn't wonder.