Delight or Despair? Bath v London Irish
By P G Tips
May 1 2018
Bath will be full of hope when they host already relegated London Irish on Saturday. Their six try win at Kingsholm last weekend has restored hope that had been in short supply and vanishing rapidly since Christmas. Now a bonus point victory and some other results going conveniently Bath’s way could see the Blue Black and White sneak a highly fortunate European Champions Cup qualification at the eleventh hour. So will full time on Saturday bring delight or despair?
To quote John Cleese in “Clockwork” “It’s not the despair. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” That sentiment sums up many Bath fans’ feelings about a season that at one stage promised much but has so far delivered mostly frustration. It would be in keeping were one of the combinations of circumstance needed (see Champions Cup Qualification thread) to slip through Bath’s fingers. The players though would probably feel it fitting if they could pull off a triumph of hope and light a flame of optimism for next season.
Famed Lion and business tycoon Tony O’ Reilly once compared the states of English “serious, but seldom desperate” and Irish rugby (“usually desperate but never serious”). That comparison holds good for the two clubs meeting on Saturday. Irish have been in this position before and made their way back. They have also, despite gaining only three wins this season, enjoyed a few bright moments. Departing DOR Nick Kennedy always managed a balanced outlook in post match interviews and their fans can point to some lively back play from the likes of Lewington, Williams, Brophy-Clewes and Cokanasiga –the latter two believed to be Bath targets for next season. They may not be desperate, but have no need to take the game seriously- some of those talented backs may just spring a surprise. That is if the legendary “luck of the Irish” can serve them one final time and if their workhorse forwards like Franks, Paice, Treviranus and Cowan can get them sufficient go forward.
Bath found something elusive at Kingsholm, but whether that is the key to regular success will take tougher opposition to prove. They did though play with freedom and enjoyment: epitomised by the vision and determination of Tom Homer’s break and try just before half time. Foundations were laid at the breakdown, where Louw, Ellis, Ewels and Stooke pilfered or slowed home ball. In possession sharp and adventurous handling reaped rewards, whether through swift passing from Fotual’I, Priestland and Banahan or the close driving play of Dunn, Obano and Faletau. Ball-in –hand delivered where “kick and hope” has merely exposed and frustrated. Against a side short on form and confidence there can be no better time to continue building and evolving a more dominant attacking game.
Not all faults were ironed out. Priestland missed touch expensively to gift Braley and Morgan a chance to make a try for Woodward and some careless offloads in the opposition twenty two wasted good field position and allowed Gloucester to counter attack. Bath must be ruthless in eradicating these errors and securing as big a win as possible.
While their European fate is only partly in their own hands, a revitalised squad will want to head into the off season on a high. The English qualified players also know that Eddie Jones will be looking to finalise his squad for the summer tour of South Africa. With a number of red rose stalwarts injured, off form or in need of rest, the list of hopefuls is bigger this year than usual. For Bath this could include Ewels (who unfortunately has not recovered from last weekend’s injury) Dunn, Obano, Mercer and maybe Ellis or Homer. They, and indeed the whole squad have plenty to play for. In Ewels’ absence Matt Garvey is likely to skipper the team, possibly from lock. The fans, wanting to see at home the form and flair that brought wins at Wasps, Worcester, Benetton and Gloucester, have plenty to cheer for. Let Irish despair, Bath must deliver to delight.
Obano, Dunn, Perenise, Stooke, Garvey(Capt.),Ellis Louw, Faletau. Fotuali’i, Priestland. Banahan, Wilson, Clark, Brew. Homer.
Replacements: Noguera, Walker, Knight, Phillips, Mercer. Green, Burns, Vuna.
Franks, Paice (Capt.), Hoskins, McNally, Van der Merwe, Schatz, Cowan, Treviranus.Van Zyl, Brophy-Clewes. Cokanasiga, Fowlie, J. Williams, Lewington. Tonks
Replacements: Porecki, Elrington, Du Plessis, De Chaves, Basham, Steele, McLean, Tokoirotuma.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:05:07:14:23:25 by P G Tips.
DELIGHTED FOR SURE !!!!!!! Fabulous
Me too. Oh happy day, oh happy day....
Adopted players: 2017-18 T Faletau;  D Denton;  H. Agulla;  L Houston;  W Spencer;  F. Louw
Change a life with a loan [www.deki.org.uk]
Relief at European Champions Rugby a stronger emotion though.
Jack Wilson - Adopted player 2017/18