Ring in the New: Bath v Wasps
By P G Tips
December 26 2017
The euphoria of beating Toulon proved short-lived due to Bath’s humbling defeat at Sale. The players’ and coaches Christmas may well have been somewhat muted as a result. Next the squad must summon up early New Year’s Resolution when they host third placed Wasps on Friday evening. Whatever resolution they choose, fans will hope for instant and robust response to any future setbacks. Hopefully that begins this week – high flying opposition requires a most gutsy response.
There have been many momentous Bath v Wasps encounters over the years: 3 Cup finals in the amateur era (all Bath victories) and the two Twickenham St George’s Day fixtures at the beginning of this decade (likewise), bracketing defeat in the 2004 Premiership Final dominated by a Bath team who could not find the way over the whitewash. Wasps that day could with a swift and ruthless counter attack – almost their only fluent attack of the day- sealing their win. More recently, Bath recovered from the frustration of two successive defeats at the hands of Northampton and Newcastle to stun Wasps at their Ricoh nest, their defence strangling the hosts’ sting at source. They will need all the spirit of that victory to have a chance of winning on Friday.
A common Christmas theme in literature is making the best of what you’ve got. From the improvised maternity ward in a Bethlehem stable, through the March girls in Little Women putting a brave face on Christmas without Daddy away fighting in the civil war, to Bob Cratchett and family, thankful for their modest lot in a Christmas Carol. Both clubs will feel that theme on Friday, shorn as they are of key players and having to make do and mend to field as strong a team as this fixture demands. Wasps suddenly find themselves without Hughes, Daly and Gopperth, three of their most potent and influential players. That they played so well and so expansively against Gloucester without these three is ominous for Bath. Carr, Eastmond and Bassett are of course high quality deputies. Eastmond in particular slotted back into Wasps’ midfield after a long injury absence with the dash and creativity he showed for Bath in the 2015 season. Bath of course have been without Catt, Batty, Attwood and Ellis for most of the season and must also cope without Faletau and Rokodoguni for a few more weeks. The way they cope with these absences over the next few rounds could well define their Premiership season.
Todd Blackadder was refreshingly honest about Bath’s failings at the A J Bell stadium, where neither the breakdown nor discipline went according to plan. “Sale were magnificent and we were terrible.” He said. That honesty is welcome, but what fans want to see is the plan, the will and the determination to reverse those assessments. “Bath were too strong for us. Frankly they were magnificent and made us look poor” are the words they want to hear from visiting Directors of Rugby. This may be the season of goodwill, but Bath must aim to send their visitors home empty handed.
New Year is a time for renewed hope, as well as commitment to personal improvement. The Rec faithful will hope to see their heroes produce both – in quantity and quality on Friday evening.
Happy New Year to all COML Readers and Posters
Obano, Dunn, Thomas, Ewels, Stooke, Garvey (Capt.). Louw, Grant. Cook, Priestland.. Brew, Tapuai, Joseph, Banahan. Watson.
Replacements: Auterac, V Vuuren, Lahiff, Charteris, Mercer. Fotuali’I, Burns. Jack Wilson.
McIntyre, Cruse, Moore, Launchbury (Capt.), Gaskell, Willis, Young, Carr. Robson, Cipriani. Bassett, De Jongh, Eastmond, Wade. Le Roux
Replacements: Johnson, Harris, Cooper-Woolley, Myall, Thompson, Simpson, Miller, Lovobalavu.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:01:02:08:57:00 by CoochieCoo.
As you say, looking for a reaction to last weekends lack lustre performance. Hopefully home advantage will see us through.
Bath vs Wasps
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Adam Leal
Television match official: David Rose
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant
Assessor: Gary Welsh / Peter Huckle
Not a Doctor and not a troll!!