BOGGED DOWN IN BATH
By Purfleet Sarrie
March 10 2019
OK, lets ignore the furore this week in relation to potential breaches of the salary cap regulations (thank you Austin Healy for the defence though!) and concentrate on the rugby. Bath have had some hard results with recent losses in the final stages of the last three games so I am expecting them to have some form of reaction for the visiting champions. Its excellent conditions for a fantastic attacking running game… wait, no its absolutely teaming it down and the conditions are awful ! This may not be pretty game and possibly not the conditions for attractive running attacking rugby.
Bath get us underway and almost immediately there is a penalty to Bath for a high tackle by Sarries. A kick to touch for an uncontested line out resulted in Mercer getting through a gap in our defence with a penalty advantage. Back for the penalty advantage and Bath choose the posts. 3 nil to Bath after 5 mins. This sets the tone of the game being honest, with Sarries shipping an unusually high number of penalties throughout the game.
From our restart, we regather the ball and ouch, high tackle on Isiekwe, penalty to us. Lozowski to go for the posts but he pushes it wide. Unfortunately, as it turns out, Lozowski was to have a bad day from the tee today missing I believe 4 from 7 attempts, despite his excellent record so far this season, missing possibly due to the weather conditions.
The conditions are definitely affecting this game and there are a lot of handling errors on both sides, although Bath appear to be handling the conditions better than us in the early stages of the game and the game is looking to turn into an attritional forward battle. Bath are applying the early pressure and having the better of possession. A quick break from Bath results in a Bath penalty 6 – 3. A further penalty on 28 mins under the posts results in the inevitable kick, 9 – 3 Bath.
Whilst the game is definitely not a classic, there was a collector’s item moment, much to the home crowds immense amusement and cheers of delight, when the ever mercurial Alex Goode dropped the ball…….. who was more shocked, our players or theirs ! Bath could have extended their lead on the stroke of half time after a great kick from Priestland to within our 22 put us under pressure, but for the Bath line out to stutter and fail due to a miscommunication on the throw.
Halftime, Bath lead 9 -3. The shocking stat at half time was that Bath had enjoyed (not only Goode’s dropped ball) but 73% possession. Homer for Bath I will say has so far been outstanding and is handling the conditions better than anyone else. Also Preistland’s kicking has been excellent and accurate. We will need to find a way to retain the ball and increase our possession stats to get back into this game in the second half.
Sarries retain the possession from the restart and have the scrum which unsurprisingly in the wet conditions collapses. The Ref resets it as he is not sure who collapsed it. Third scrum reset and we finally get the penalty. Lozowski kicks for the posts and gets the first points of the second half. 9-6 to Bath. It’s looking more promising for us in the early stages of the second half with us now attacking and Bath defending well. The following period of play in the Bath half results in a penalty and a chance for us to draw level in the game, but alas another missed penalty by Lozowski. It may be worth us considering kicking to the corner due to the missed penalties? However there followed an excellent charge down at the restart by Skelton, which was subsequently knocked on by Priestland. A scrum to us in the danger area for Bath but the Bath scrum was up for it and wins the scrum penalty. The quagmire, sorry I meant pitch, is making it difficult for both teams still and how the scrums are staying up is beyond me!
The game draws level after a successful Lozowski penalty, 9-9. Is the momentum changing as we are now enjoying more possession? Sarries are now pressing hard in the Bath 22 but Bath win a turnover from under their posts and their clearance kick relieves the pressure.
However, momentum seems to turn against us after some back chat to the ref (unsure which of our boys did it) costs us ten metres for the second game in a row and Bath seem pumped by the turnover and the 10 metres.
58 minutes gone and the game is in the balance. Sarries now start to bring on the substitutes to impact the game. Burger replaced by Earl and Vincent Koch replaced by Judge. But unfortunately the impact we were hoping for goes the wrong way as Earl is yellow carded and Bath have a penalty under the posts, score now 12-9 and Bath with a man advantage.
From our restart Bath gather but a great chase and great counter ruck and we have it, pushing forward slowly but the ball is turned over and we yet again charge down the kick but it's back for a Bath penalty advantage, which they kick into Sarries half, lineout to Bath. Bath retain possession from the lineout but we defend well and earn the penalty. I was surprised that in these conditions Lozowski chooses to go for the 50 metre kick ….. missed. It’s not our evening so far !
Bosch on for Tompkins on 67 mins. Last throw of the dice for us surely? Errors are now creeping in and I will say that Rhodes is potentially lucky to still be on the pitch, he has been right on, or just over, the line with his tackling all game, and I think he may be cited for a clear out in the first half. Sarries however still going forward and a little kick forward results in a deliberate block by Batty, a sin bin and a penalty to us. Now’s our chance to draw level. But yet another missed penalty. These are going to come back and bite us although we are now back to full strength as our sin bin is over.
Into the final ten minutes and we now have to throw everything at Bath if we are going to get anything from this game. However, too many errors as we knock on and then cough up the penalty at the subsequent scrum, within range of the posts and a cool Preistland extends Baths lead to 15-9 with 5 mins to play.
Bath keep possession from the restart and kick into our half. We gather the ball and move forward into the Bath half, attacking hard but frustratingly again give away a penalty and a long kick eases the pressure for Bath. They gather the ball from the lineout and get yet another penalty advantage which Priestland duly converts for a 18-9 lead and subsequently the win.
I will say that Bath deserved the win and that the conditions done neither team no favours. An out of sorts Sarries were beaten by the better team on the night. I think Rhodes may be cited for the incident in the first half but we will have to wait and see. Let’s look forward to next Sunday’s Prem Cup final against Northampton and hope that our recent record against them continues. Our coaches have a lot to work on, and we must cut out the penalties as 20 on the night is unacceptable and also the back chat, which costs us metres. Also, perhaps when conditions are bad coach to go for the corner more rather than the penalty, especially if the kicker is having an off night. I’m sure the coaching staff will work on it. Onwards and upwards as always.
Homer, Wilson, Joseph, Willison (Clark), McConnochie, Priestland, Chudley (Fotuali’i), Catt (Obano), Dunn (Batty), Thomas (Perenise), Attwood, Douglas (Ellis), Stooke, Reid, Mercer (Dunn)
Malins, Strettle, Tompkins (Bosch), Lozowski, Lewington (Gallagher), Goode, Spencer (Whiteley), Barrington (Lamositele), Woolstencroft (Gray), Koch (Judge), Skelton (Day) Isiekwe, Rhodes, Burger (Earl), Wray
Bath Rugby: Pens: Preistland (6)
Saracens: Pens: Lozowski (3)
Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU)pqs: qs:
The report is much better than the match was!
You're definitely one of "the team" now
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019:03:20:10:44:39 by Darraghgirl.
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