February 9 2017
it's back to Premiership action this weekend as Northampton Saints travel to the West Country to take on Bath Rugby in ANOTHER Friday night fixture. regular COYSDC messageboard contributor, WesternWanderer, looks forward to the game...
BATH RUBGY vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Friday, 10th February 2017 - 7.45pm
THE RECREATION GROUND, BATH
And so back to the regular business of Premiership rugby. The Wreck is, in my opinion the best away trip in the league shoehorned next to the River Avon, the floodlit Georgian spires overlooking the ground and ample bars and restaurants to sustain the enthusiastic fan.
Saints have a good recent record against the West Countrymen bar the aberration in September, but this match will be significantly impacted by absentees: Hartley, Lawes, Wood, Harrison, Picamoles and North all on international duty for Saints with Bath missing Watson, Faletau and Charteris through injury and Ford and Joseph with England, although Priestland was not selected by Wales. The Saints physios’ couch is packed with the talent of Burrell, Pisi (G) and Clark.
The clubs had different policies for the Anglo Welsh Cup – Bath used Saturday as a development match so their XV on Friday will be well rested whilst the Saints used it to test out combinations due recent returnees from injury needing gametime and players missing in key positions. The meeting with Scarlets allowed the backs to trial some moves with Mallinder, Pisi (K)and Foden all impressing but some weaknesses in defence a concern. David Ribbans looks a prospect at lock – the heavyweight enforcer we have been missing, but expect him to make the bench at best. Ethan Waller’s carrying and scrummaging were highly effective which makes his departure all the more galling whilst Paul Hill seems to have declined this season. Jim is a conservative selector so expect the Scarlets team to all return bar Ethan Waller with brother Alex back at loosehead.
Bath have fewer players missing and will be particularly strong at half back with Fotuali and Priestland and only the two Welshmen missing in the pack. Blackadder has done a good job of restoring morale, but Bath have lost their last three Premiership matches, so expect this to be a tight error-strewn affair: Bath by a score in a low-scoring game.