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BUBBLE OR QUITS? BENETTON V BATH
Bath’s European hopes hang by a slender thread as they prepare to play Benetton on Saturday. Last week’s shock defeat by Scarlets has handed Bath the steepest of challenges. Knockout qualification is mathematically possible but will require one of their pool rivals to hammer the other and a number of improbable results in other pools to go their way. Whether they make the knockout rounds or not, the squads response will set the tone for the rest of the season.
COML has been invited to join with other groups to give input into the development of the Rec. I have agreed with Hasta and PG Tips to represent COML on these meetings which are monthly. The meetings are for a communication line between us and the Club and vice versa.
RAGS TO RICHES? BATH V SCARLETS
The Rag Doll will be up for grabs in Bath’s European Cup encounter with Scarlets on Friday. The iconic mascot has been the trophy in Bath: Llanelli matches for over a century, but this week Bath will have a bigger prize in mind- a passport to the knock out rounds. Bath lead a close pool, with Scarlets third. Either side can qualify, but defeat would almost certainly end their hopes before the final pool round. The two clubs scored 13 tries between them last weekend: a great clash is promised -in a pivotal match.
SEVERN BELLS? WORCESTER v BATH
Neither coach will need to wind their team up much when Worcester host Bath on Friday evening. Both sides have frustrations to work out –for different reasons- and will want to knock seven bells out of each other. Warriors climb off the bottom of the table has stuttered with defeat in 3 of their last 4 matches, while Bath could suffer their 4th premiership defeat in succession. The prospect of celebration bells for Worcester ringing out over the Severn sounds alarm bells for Bath.
Ring in the New: Bath v Wasps
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.
The Christmas Market closed last week but Bath travel north on Saturday in search of a festive bargain. Two stirring performances against Toulon have sharpened their edge and buoyed their confidence, so they will be hoping for an early Christmas gift. Bath have snapped up several pedigree presents in away matches this season, but Sale are a notoriously tough nut to crack at home. So-what sort of Bath performance can we expect, absolute cracker or total turkey?
Fourth Time Lucky? Bath v Toulon
Bath will be hoping for better luck in their fourth meeting with Toulon in three seasons this weekend. Toulon have prevailed by a single score margin in each of those previous Champions Cup encounters and Bath can argue that they were ill served by fortune in Toulon last week. Despite home advantage and the heroics of that close defeat, they will need more than luck to get their revenge on Saturday evening.
Siege Mentality: Toulon v Bath
Having delivered too little, too late at Exeter, Bath must now avoid playing too loose against Toulon. With enviable quality strength in depth and a refined counter attack game, Fabien Galthie’s side seem likely to punish any sloppiness as sternly as Chiefs did. Toulon lie a modest 7th in the Top 14, but it would be foolish to write off their cup pedigree. They will expect to snatch the leadership of Pool 5 from Bath and drive for the knockout stage in the New Year rounds
Challenge of the Chiefs: Exeter v Bath
Bath face their toughest challenge of the season yet against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. Chiefs, now leading the table by a clear 5 points have hit form in time for a demanding run of European and Christmas domestic fixtures. Bath, facing a tough December themselves, enjoyed their best 20 minute spell of this campaign against Quins before fading. They will need to play the full 80, at greater tempo and intensity, to get any change from the Chiefs.
Autumn Colours: Bath v Quins
Multi coloured Quins visit the Rec this week depleted by the chill winds of Autumn Internationals. Their November results have been chequered in the past few seasons, deprived of their key decision makers and most colourful characters. Bath, having already lost twice at home this season and having scraped a pallid victory at strugglers London Irish could also be missing 6 star players. Despite these absences, Saturday’s game promises to be a close encounter. But will it bring colour to the grey weather?