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Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton


Rokodoguni: strike power

By P G Tips
September 18 2018

The Saints will be among us on Saturday with Northampton Bath’s next visitors at the Rec. In winning at the Stoop last weekend Bath enjoyed some sublime moments but also showed enough defensive frailty to warn against premature pretensions of celestial play.  Saints forwards appear stronger than Quins and Bath’ continuity will be disrupted by fresh injuries. So who do we expect to be polishing their halos when the day is done?

Northampton sit in 9th position in the league with Bath 5th but this early in the season their relative standings could be misleading. Bath owe their superiority to bonus points and gaining a draw to place against Saints’ two defeats. Neither boast positive numbers in results or points difference, but Bath can take comfort from the try bonus points they have collected – 2 points from nine tries over the past two matches.

 Saints boast strength, pedigree and promise throughout their squad. In the forwards Lawes, Franks and Haskell can be expected to carry abrasively and, aided by Hartley, Ribbans and Brussow, resist Bath’s rolling maul with steel. In the backs they have in Biggar a less mercurial, but considerably more experienced pivot than Smith for Quins last week. The Welshman is a real threat with the boot, with ball in hand (if sparingly) and as a stern defender of his channel. Outside him Piers Francis has been in fine form at inside centre, offering a Tapuai like threat that will have Bath’s defence worried in light of the latter’s step and break for Care’s try last week. Burrell, Tuala and particularly the robust Fijian Naiyaravoro combine pace with directness and tackle breaking vigour.

 All this talent is directed by Chris Boyd, a DOR with a Super Rugby track record arguably stronger than Blackadder’s’. He has restored pride, discipline and application to Saints. They will be no pushover.

 Bath’s performance last week and the return of injury woes will give Blackadder and his fellow coaches some selection dilemmas. Northampton’s experience up front may force Bath to start Attwood and Faletau. That would be harsh on Charteris whose lineout expertise proved so telling last week and especially on Man of the Match Mercer. The latter could of course offer energy and a game-breaking surge from the bench. Jamie Roberts is out for “four to six weeks” with a broken cheekbone, following his strongest yet showing for Bath. A backline reshuffle is required and will test somebody’s versatility. Willison can switch to 12 but who fills in at outside centre with Joseph injured, Clark expected to be absent for a week and the possibility that Tom Homer may not recover from his hip issue? Aled Brew (if not required at Full Back) could do the job, or perhaps Jack Wilson?

 The snap and flair shown by Green and Burns last week deserve another outing together. Otherwise I would opt for minimum change except those mentioned above. Whoever is chosen, the bench could prove key. At the Stoop the changes seemed to disrupt continuity as Quins surged back, threatening to save a lost cause. Or was their resurgence due to Rokodoguni’s yellow card and Quin’s renewed hope when Cook’s try was disallowed? This Saturday, it will be renewed forward vigour and miserly defence from Van Rooyen, Ewels and Mercer that the coaches seek, plus control from Priestland and attack from whichever of Homer or Atkins strengthens the back three.

 It is early days yet, but this season promises to be a classic, perhaps even crazy campaign. The usual suspects, Saracens and Exeter top the table with Gloucester and Wasps hard on their heels. Behind them come a chasing pack snarling at the heels of the third and fourth placed clubs. Any one of Bath, Leicester, Harlequins, Newcastle or Northampton could force their way into the Playoffs at season’s end. Saturday’s match can boost the hopes of one and dampen those of the other.

Northampton’s approach could well be more devilish than saintly. They will certainly bring down to earth physicality and brutal, unrepentant aggression. Bath must not only resist their onslaught but spring a few surprises: gain the edge up front in new ways. In Cokanasiga, Rokodoguni and Brew, supported by a dynamic back row, Bath have the strike power to prevail. Blue, Black and White can often shine more brightly than the more sombre autumn colours of Green, Black and Gold. Bath must shrug off the expected drizzle to dazzle Saints and dim their glory.

 

Possible Teams:
Bath:
Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Attwood, Stooke, Ellis, Underhill, Faletau. Green, Burns. Cokanasiga, Willison, Wilson, Rokodoguni. Brew

Replacements: Van Rooyen, Walker, Perenise, Ewels, Mercer. Cook, Priestland., Homer.

 

Northampton:
Waller (co-Capt.), Hartley (co-Capt.), Franks , Ribbans, Lawes, Haskell, Brussow, Harrison. Reinach, Biggar. Naiyaravoro, Francis, Burrell, Collins. Tuala

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Painter, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Mitchell, Symons, Mallinder.

 

 

 

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Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
18/09/2018 18:59
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:09:26:09:23:21 by P G Tips.

 
Deckchair
Deckchair (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
23/09/2018 08:31
It was a wet and dismal day and the game wasn't much better. Bath made it by the skin of a missed last kick of the game conversion from Biggar. We almost pulled defeat out of the jaws of victory again.
Yes the conditions were awful and we could not expect flowing rugby but Bath should be better than this. Sitting in the sodden stands the talk around was of no game plan, no leader, no ingenuity and no fly half. Burns was woeful - yes he took the intercept but his kicking and tactical awareness were dreadful. He seems totally disconnected with those around him.
It is a strange feel to the league this year with anyone able to win it and I suspect that injuries and international call ups will shuffle the pack more. It is the kind of league where Bath can play scrappy, rubbish rugby and still find themselves fifth in the league.
Maybe anything is possible. But we will need a better and more dynamic 10. And preferably one who can kick 25m penalties in front of the posts

 
BathMatt53
BathMatt53 (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
23/09/2018 11:10
Freddie kicked a conversion from the touch line into horizontal rain what was ultimately the difference between the teams - is that good enough? Rhys kicking off the tee also excellent.

[Adoptee 18/19: Man Mountain Dave Attwood, back in the BB&W and ready to smash]

 
Boldangrey
Boldangrey (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
23/09/2018 11:45
Freddie also missed two that should have been straightforward for him.

 
BathMatt53
BathMatt53 (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
23/09/2018 12:06
I donít think that any kicking was straightforward in that wind yesterday, as both teams showed (9s, 10s and 15s from hand and tee).

[Adoptee 18/19: Man Mountain Dave Attwood, back in the BB&W and ready to smash]

 
Boldangrey
Boldangrey (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
23/09/2018 19:22
Quote:
BathMatt53
I donít think that any kicking was straightforward in that wind yesterday, as both teams showed (9s, 10s and 15s from hand and tee).

Agreed. Ironic that he kicked the most difficult one (worth only 2 points).

 
Bath Hammer
Bath Hammer (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
24/09/2018 07:19
Quote:
Deckchair
It is a strange feel to the league this year with anyone able to win it

As things stand I canít see any teams getting near Chiefs & Sarries. Obviously that could change but I would have thought it unlikely. However as for the rest I think youíre right. So far we have just scraped over the line in the games we have won & all 4 games could have gone either way & those are, with great respect, not the strongest teams in the league.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:09:24:07:21:08 by Bath Hammer.

 
Boldangrey
Boldangrey (IP Logged)

Re: Saints Among Us: Bath v Northampton
24/09/2018 07:43
Newcastle came close to Ex!

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