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Published: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 01:44:39 +0100

Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 01:44:39 +0100

Copyright: Copyright: (C)

European Local

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:47:59 +0100

There will be a local touch to Bath’s first home European match this Thursday. The competition may be continental, but the rivalry intensely parochial: Bath v Bristol, two clubs divided by 14 miles and a recent gulf in fortunes. The two teams have not met in a tournament first XV fixture for 7 years as Bristol have languished in the Championship during that time ..

Venture into the Unknown

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 18:31:06 +0100

Bath’s trip to Pau for their first European Challenge Cup tie will be a voyage into the unknown.  The two sides have met before, as semi –finalists in Bath’s European glory year- 1998 -but for the past 9 years, Pau have been out of French rugby’s top flight.  Currently 12th in the Top 14 table, their recent form gives little clue to their capability. Capital of the Pyrenees- Atlantique region, the Gascon city is steeped in the rugby tradition of France’s south west corner. Many French greats have graced their teams in the past. Notables include Beauxis, Bernat-Salles, Traille, Cabannes and more recently, the inimitable Harinordoquy   These dashing backs and ball handling loose forwards suggest a heritage of sweeping attack, which is true. However, the club is also known for gnarled front rowers like Sebastian Bruno and the incomparable tighthead, Robert Paparamborde. The spirit of the Béarnaise, epitomised by these two, could prove sauce for a meaty encounter.

Sale Time

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:52:18 +0100

As they prepare to face Sale Sharks on Friday, Bath’s coaches face a crucial shortage. The need and the demand is enough back row forwards: the source of supply is increasingly uncertain. Leroy Houston’s call up to the Wallaby squad is the latest blow to a resource that seemed to be in surplus at the start of the season. Injuries to Faletau, Denton, Garvey, Mercer and Sisi and Springbok commitments of Francois Louw have forced Blackadder and Co to field a series of makeshift trios and rely on the flexibility of youth. News from Monday’s United game that Levi Douglas left the field early through injury only increases the concern. The coaches must wish they could buy, rent, beg steal or borrow a ready - made solution. The choice they make is the latest speculation about selection in a season that has seen eight loose forwards chosen for the past five matches: the same starting trio appearing only in two of those. Will Zach Mercer be entrusted with the No 8 shirt? Will Matt Gilbert, recently used in a United game, get a recall from Hartpury? How will Bath match the threat of a genuine openside in Tommy Seymour, the athletic Josh Beaumont and the growing form of Cameron Neild?

Donkey Derby

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 20:19:05 +0100

Bath’s first error on Saturday will be met by a cacophony of donkey impressions from the Shed. This reaction, the favourite taunt of Kingsholm supporters, is guaranteed. It also adds spice to a derby that needs no artificial incitement to enflame it. Always a testy encounter, this is the one players and supporters feel the most personally and one which has, in recent years, offered plenty of incident and controversy. The “Battle of Kingsholm”, a feisty affair of 7 cards which saw Gloucester finish with 11 men and concede defeat to a late penalty try, sticks in the craw for the men in cherry and white. Since then Bath have spoiled Gloucester’s Christmas the following season, but themselves harbour a grudge about the narrow home defeat Gloucester inflicted through controversial penalties last February. There are many other niggles and humiliations for both clubs –which only go to make the “eeyore, eeyore!” chant more delicious for Gloucester and more irritating for the men from The Rec.

Lions and Tigers.

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:25:32 +0100

Saturday’s visit to Welford Road could be the ideal stage for prospective Lions to show their mettle. Leicester provided 6 of the 2013 tour party and will want to be well represented again.  Since then one of the six has moved on, one has been almost permanently injured and others have suffered slumps in form. At least two of their squad though will be favoured to make the trip: Dan Cole and Ben Youngs. Bath have their aspirants too – although the one current Lion, Talupe Faletau will be missing though injury. Doomsayers among the Tigers’ fans are fretting that the club has lost its roar. After a poor showing (in victory) against Falcons, they are claiming a confusion of styles between the all court All Black game of Mauger and the pragma of Cockerill. They also bemoan a lack of classy and confident play at centre. Their solution is simple: bring back the nastiness! Never mind African bush or Indian Jungle: the Welford faithful like their forwards to be the sort of beasts you fear to encounter in a city alley on a dark night. In the modern game that trait alone may not be enough, but the traditional rivalry between Leicester and Bath should bring out the beasts in home players and crowd alike.

Beware the Warriors!

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:01:57 +0100

After dispatching Newcastle Falcons with ease last Saturday, Bath next face another likely Premiership struggler in Worcester Warriors. With two impressive wins to start the season, Rec fans could be forgiven for licking their lips at the prospect of hosting the tenth placed team.  Before any chickens are counted though, there is the small matter of fielding a full and fit squad. A mounting injury list up front pared both front and back row resources to the bone last week: the pack which faced Falcons being some way different from the expected first choice.  Faletau, Denton and Wilson will be absent for a while, and there is little prospect of Garvey, Guy Mercer or Ellis being ready for this weekend.  There is more optimism though that Catt and Thomas may be fit in time, while backs Bowden and Watson are in training and available for selection.  Squad depth and rotation have become a theme early this season- out of necessity more than choice.

A Fresh Start

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:05:38 +0100

For Bath’s new coaches and players a season opener at Franklin’s Gardens is about as testing as they come.  Victories over Northampton have been rare for years and the last Bath away win in the series was sixteen years ago.  Saturday’s clash will be a Premiership eye opener for Blackadder and Matson while offering a fresh start for a squad smarting from last year’s failures.

Join the COML Superbru league

Tue, 26 Jul 2016 22:01:01 +0100

Do you play Superbru's rugby prediction league?

Where will we finish this season?

Sat, 09 Jul 2016 23:43:29 +0100

So, is your cup half full or half empty?

Playoff Predictions

Mon, 16 May 2016 20:49:54 +0100

Bath’s season has been over for a week or more and this weekend brings the AP Playoffs. With the news of Mike Ford’s departure many of the Rec faithful will feel that other clubs games are a sideshow. So what on earth have the playoffs to do with us? Plenty:   ·      The performance of the playoff contenders should show us what to aspire to ·      They show us who to beat to reach that level next season ·      Starved of club rugby of our own they give us 2 more weeks of the game before the summer break ·      Opportunities for schadenfreude and “I told you so’s” if our bête noir’s fail   So, Bath involvement or not, it is tempting to assess the chances of this year’s four contenders. Here goes.

Time for a Tiger: Bath v Leicester

Tue, 03 May 2016 19:07:01 +0100

It will be “Time for a Tiger” when Leicester visit Bath this Saturday. The city of Leicester may have turned blue this week as the men from the King Power stadium celebrate their first ever football title, but the Tigers will not wish to be outfoxed by their neighbours. The visitors’ place in the playoffs is assured, but they will want a win to prepare for their semi final. In the unlikely event that Wasps slip up the Tigers could edge above them and avoid Saracens. The more probable case is that they will still finish fourth, but need the confidence boost of a good win before a trip to Allianz Park.

Saints Alive! Northampton v Bath

Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:14:31 +0100

Will Bath be on a hiding to nothing at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday?  The last Bath win against Saints was six seasons ago and the last away victory a distant memory. Even among last season’s excellence and flair Northampton’s power proved too strong for Bath. This season Saints are almost as disappointed with their form as Bath, but at least they have a target. They now have a slight hold on a European Champions Cup place and a very small chance of making the playoffs- they will be chasing every point and bonus they can get.  Mike Ford’s men restored some pride as well as verve with their attacking play against Sale last weekend, but their rolling maul defence was found wanting on four occasions. Mallinder’s side will have noticed that frailty and be planning to exploit it. So –are Bath finally on the rise and Saints, who have lost their last two- into a slump, or will Saints exert their usual stranglehold for victory?

Pride and Precision: Bath v Sale

Tue, 19 Apr 2016 17:19:53 +0100

The home leg of Bath’s double header with Sale has a “do or die” look about it-for both sides. Bath in ninth can hope for no more than pride, but Sale will wish to hold onto their tenuous grip on sixth: they can afford few slips in their remaining three games. One of those is a likely banana skin away at Newcastle, so Steve Diamond’s team will want safety before then. Last Sunday Bath found the pride to come back from 14-3 down to a respectable 17-17 with ten minutes to go. What they could not do was find the precision to win when the momentum seemed to have edged their way. The next score or error was expected to tip the balance and after both fly halves missed kicks, it was a Bath infringement that paved the way for Sale’s win. With an injury depleted squad and a recent record of self- destruct, Bath’s chances look no better than evens – even at home.

Playing for Pride: Sale v Bath

Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:57:55 +0100

Bath travel to Sale on Saturday with only pride to play for. The Manchester club, now out of European competition, can aspire to sneak into the Top 6 places, but realistically that ambition is beyond the visitors for this year. Bath did the double over the Lancastrians last season, but form suggests a repeat in this month’s double -header to be unlikely. Steve Diamond’s men have lost at home only once this season-to Montpellier last Friday. Leicester, Wasps and Exeter have all succumbed at the AJ Bell, only Saracens of the Aviva league leaders escaping with the comfort of a draw. Even in last year’s matches Sale proved hard to break down: Bath’s away win came through two scores in the final five minutes and the home win was ground out by four penalties to one. Sale’s fans are likely to be banking on a home win to push them closer to Champions Cup qualification.

Send Reinforcements! Bath v Saracens

Tue, 29 Mar 2016 20:23:46 +0100

Bath snatched the West Country derby last week with their 6 Nations stars returned to club action. This Friday they will hope for further strengthening when they host league leaders Saracens. The men from Allianz Park seem to have had it all their way this season, suffering only 4 Premiership defeats and racking up a clean sweep in the European Champions Cup pool. Indeed, they have been a model of consistency in recent years: table toppers 2 of the last 3 and rising from 4th via the playoffs to beat Bath in last year’s final. Then there is their European form- beaten finalists in 2014, semi finalists last year and leading seed this time around. Bath can take small comfort from the fact that all 4 of Saracens AP defeats this season have been since Christmas: 3 of them came during the 6 Nations. The coaches at Farleigh will be racking their brains to find a chink in their opponents’ armour.

Deadly Derby? Gloucester v Bath

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 19:10:24 +0000

There is seldom any love lost between Gloucester and Bath. This season there is more than the usual local rivalry to stir the spirits, more than local bragging rights at stake. Gloucester DOR David Humphreys admitted last week that a top 6 finish “now looks unlikely” as, following two successive defeats,  the Cherry & Whites lie 7th in the table. Bath are 2 places and 6 league point behind and both teams will be challenged to catch the pack of teams who have established themselves as top 6 contenders for most of the season. With few games remaining, all win chances must be taken if ambitions are not to crumble into dust. The Kingsholm outfit will also have the motivation of trying to avenge 3 seasons of Bath doubles in this explosive fixture.

Clip The Falcons’ Wings: Bath v Newcastle

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 18:49:20 +0000

Newcastle Falcons visit Bath this Friday evening hoping to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. Bath will be equally determined not to let Falcons drag them into it.  Newcastle will feel that Bath’s vulnerabilities make this a winnable fixture, while Bath are still searching for the consistency and run of wins which they say is not far off. However, recent fortunes suggest that it is the visitors who have the uphill task. After enjoying a mini revival in rounds ten to thirteen, when they earned 13 of their 21 league points, the Falcons have struggled in the last three rounds – gaining only a single point, while Bath –although losing twice- have found some try scoring form and an attitude to fight to the last whistle. They will feel that home advantage should help them to a win.

Multi-Coloured Opportunity? Harlequins v Bath

Tue, 08 Mar 2016 21:19:52 +0000

Bath restored some colour to their cheeks with a bonus point win last week. They next travel on Friday to Harlequins, the club of the famous multi-coloured shirts, who at their best have themselves been rainbow vibrant this season.  Bath lost October’s Round 3 match to the Quins at home – a finely balanced game at half time turning on a burst of penalties slotted by Evans, helping Quins pile up 26 points in the first 30 minutes of the second half. Although Bath proved the greater try scorers that day- three to Quins two-the Londoners did not win by attrition. Their goal chances came because Bath could only blunt their sweeping attacks with infringements.  Bath’s own try scoring riposte was too little, too late. At that stage in the season, Quins looked odds on favourites for a playoff place. Recent Quins performances though have been comparatively off-colour. In their last four games they have earned only 5 points to the 10 Bath have gained and now sit one place above their visitors in the table at eighth. The stage is set for tight match up.

Bargain Basement

Fri, 04 Mar 2016 18:31:51 +0000

Bath host London Irish in a basement battle this Saturday. Although 10 league points and a game in hand separate Bath from Irish the basement tag is no hyperbole. Irish must be relegation favourites, while Bath, realistically out of the playoff race, languish in ninth place, 14 league points behind sixth placed Harlequins. More than mere numbers though, it is the paucity of winning performances recently which gives a tinge of desperation to Bath’s position and suggest that climbing the table will be a tough task. Irish, who themselves have much ground to make up on their relegation rivals, will come to the Rec prepared to fight for their very existence. So, what should we expect?  

Out of the Frying Pan

Tue, 23 Feb 2016 15:21:40 +0000

Out of the frying pan and into the fire is the prospect facing Bath at Sandy Park on Sunday. From losing at home to allow Wasps to climb to third, they must now face the second placed side away. Wasps dominance in the first half and the second quarter seemed so complete it was a surprise they did not gain a bonus point victory. Now Ford’s men have to shake off their disappointment and face another high flying club who play a game of high tempo and intensity, while losing at least 8 international squad players to national call ups or injury.  The picture looks bleak and the bookies are backing the Chiefs.