Dubliners: Leinster v Bath
By P G Tips
December 12 2018
It will be a double dose of Dubliners for Bath and their fans this Saturday. For those of a certain age, “Dubliners” means lively Irish folk songs like “Wild Rover” and “Jug of Punch” and there is bound to be plentiful craic around Temple Bar and O’Connell Street after the match. So following one of Bath’s better performances last week in rattling Leinster and threatening to snatch a win, can the travelling fans hope to have much to sing about or raise a glass to on Saturday evening?
“Dubliners” is also a collection of short stories, by James Joyce, the largest and best known of which is “The Dead”, a reflection on life and death. Bath’s hopes in Europe may be all but moribund, but there is life in the “Pool of Death” yet. While Toulouse and Leinster can both qualify, the roles of Bath and Wasps from now seem confined to dealing mortal blows to the ambitions of the other two.
Leinster showed last Saturday the steel that made them champions last year. Their response to Bath’s early lead was to play controlled, sensible rugby, working the percentages in the face of the home team’s impassioned storm. They followed up the ruthless driving maul that levelled the scores with precise territorial kicking and claustrophobic defence. It may have taken a stroke of luck to snatch the lead in the form of Jordan Larmour’s intercept try, but a canny kick ahead brought the penalty to stretch the margin and they had enough grit to hold out in the closing minutes as Bath pressed for a final equaliser. Bath should expect more of the same at the Aviva late on Saturday afternoon, but if the Dubliners once get their tails up they could cut loose as they did in the 8 try humiliation of Wasps in October.
For Bath, the cavalry will be too late for this match. Faletau, Grant, Priestland, Homer and Joseph are still not ready for match action, Brew is not registered for Europe and Watson is not expected to be fit until the New Year. Joe Cokanasiga suffered a medial ligament tear late in last week’s match and will be out until January too. Mercer and Burns are “touch and go” with knee and toe issues, but I expect them to be held back this week for action later this month. That all suggests a lineup similar to last week’s with Vuna slotting into Cokanasiga’s wing place. To have a hope of a win in Dublin, Bath will need the same drive and control from the front five, more heroics from the back row and even greater control from half back.
Bath’s hopes may be slim, but they have nothing to lose, much to gain from a repeat of last week’s approach. They should seek to add precision and ruthlessness in finishing to the improved command of the breakdown and greater fluency in attack of last week. If they can, the result should be a winning formula too strong for many Premiership teams. A good performance in Dublin, with a few tries, would not only signal the consistency fans have been crying out for, but boost confidence for their visit to Wasps on 23 December. Beset by injuries and facing a daunting away trip to Toulouse this weekend, the Ricoh outfit are beginning to look vulnerable. If Bath’s revival is to be real, a win there must be a target.
Joyce’s “Dubliners” chronicles the hopes, frustrations and disappointments of ordinary people, often puncturing their illusions with what he called “epiphanies” – moments of realisation. Bath players and fans have had their own frustrations and disappointments so far this season. Was last week the “epiphany” moment, the revelation that showed the way to play? It certainly showed that Bath can live with, compete with and trouble the best – at least at home. True champion teams though – and challengers, which is what Bath aspire to be – can do it away too.
Christmas is coming and supporters are looking for a cup of cheer to brighten a bleak winter. A good win from at least one of the next two matches would provide that. Whatever Saturday’s result, a performance to be proud of is the minimum expectation.
Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Attwood, Ewels (Capt.), Ellis, Underhill, Louw (Capt.). Chudley, Wilson,Vuna, Roberts, Willison, Rokodoguni. McConnochie.
Replacements: V Rooyen, Batty, Perenise, Stooke, Garvey. Green, Davies, Wright.
Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Ryan, Toner, Ruddock, Van der Flier, Leavy. McGrath, Sexton. Larmour, Ringrose, Reid, Lowe. Kearney.
Replacements: Tracey, Berne. Porter, Molony, Conan. Gibson-Park,
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:12:19:08:48:51 by P G Tips.
Just a thought - if we want to drive views to these particular sticky threads, why not make it the Teams Up/Match Thread?
I would be happy though for anybody who has seen the team sheet to press the "Edit" button - add TEAM NOW UP to the thread title and post up the team in a reply.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:12:14:18:47:57 by CoochieCoo.