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Faletau: welcome news

By P G Tips
February 20 2018

A big change will be required when Bath host Sale on Saturday. “Small margins” is the phrase often used to define the difference between victory and defeat, but following a humbling on Tyneside, the squad will know that their next game needs much more than small change. The final third of Premiership fixtures pose several traps that could send Bath’s fortunes into decline. To avoid that they must now snatch a bargain with further depleted resources.

Sale have gained only two Premiership wins on the road this season – both against the teams in the bargain basement, London Irish and Worcester. Since Christmas though they have shown some improvement, picking up losing bonus points at Gloucester and Toulouse, beating Irish and most recently giving Saracens a scare last weekend, particularly in the forwards.


The Mancunians’ preparations will be less disrupted by 6 Nations duty and injury than those of Bath, although they will be without Tom Curry and may lose Josh Strauss to Scotland and possibly Denny Solomona to England. Even without these three they will be hoping to catch Bath napping as other visitors have this season and profit from the defensive frailty so evident at Kingston Park last Friday. They will expect to pressurise Bath’s set piece to force errors and disrupt Bath’s kicking game. In old stagers like Harrison, Webber, Ostrikov, Ioane and Neild they have the men up front to do it, plus the athletic talents of Beaumont and Ben Curry. Behind the scrum they have  a scrum half capable of making small change out of unpromising situations- de Klerk and  are hopeful of a return to fitness by O’Connor. They will aim to bring their direct and dangerous runners into play-Addison, James and Haley to make openings for quality finishers like Yarde, Charnley or Odogwu.


Bath, beset again by injury worries, the latest to Grant, Burns and Charles, will have turnover on their minds. Against Falcons they conceded 22: free gifts that the Geordies grabbed with delight. This generosity made a mockery of Bath’s latest improvement- an increase in possession to 67%. Having most of the ball is a false gain if it’s not retained and it was Falcons who got the return on Bath’s week of training investment. Other big changes will be needed in mindset – especially defensive aggression and set piece solidarity. The scrum creaked last week after improved showings against Ospreys and Saints, while 25% of tackles were missed.


In the final run in Bath must play 3 teams above them in the table and 4 placed below.  That 3 of the latter occupy the 3 places immediately below means slip- ups will be fatal to chances of European qualification, never mind Premiership playoff places. Blackadder will have much on his mind as he prepares the squad to set out their stall for yet another “crucial” encounter.


He will almost certainly be forced to shuffle his wares. Josh Lewis will have to take on the fly half role, placing extra demands on his half back partner to run the game. The choice of nine is a delicate one –the experience and game management of Fotuali’I, or the tempo which Chris Cook can offer?  The back five of the pack will need adjustment too, due to Grants calf strain, while garvey is being considered for lock this weekend so the news that Taulupe Faletau has been released by Wales to get more club game time is some of the most welcome news for a while.


With luck at a premium this season Bath need a game plan that ensures the balance sheet at the end of 80 minutes is not left to chance. There is only one metric that counts. A win is the essential requirement for a successful Saturday’s trading. The margin is simply an extra dividend.


Possible Teams:


Noguera, Batty, Lahiff, Charteris, Garvey (Capt.), Mercer, Bayliss, Faletau. Fotuali’i, Lewis. Jack Wilson, Tapuai, Hurrell, Brew. James Wilson.

Replacements: Obano, V Vuuren, Perenise, Douglas, Phillips. Cook, Vuna, Williams


Sale:  Harrison, Webber, John, Beaumont, Ostrikov, Ioane, B Curry, Ross.
de Klerk, O'Connor. Yarde, James, Addison (Capt.). Charnley. Haley


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20/02/2018 20:03
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:02:27:13:16:04 by CoochieCoo.

P G Tips
P G Tips (IP Logged)

20/02/2018 20:09
Sorry about the triplication readers - seems to be a glitch in the system.

I have reported it to Sportnetwork.


P G Tips

Alex Davies: my adopted Player, 2018-19.

gaz59 (IP Logged)

20/02/2018 20:27
Excellent review, great read

Beergoggles (IP Logged)

20/02/2018 21:48
Phew, I thought you were announcing a kickoff switch to Friday night. Poor punning to give up the ‘Bath Rugby For Sale’ headline though.

P G Tips
P G Tips (IP Logged)

20/02/2018 22:08
I had hoped the ? might be a clue BG!

With our form against northern clubs this season I thought "BIG DEAL" might be tempting fate!


P G Tips

Alex Davies: my adopted Player, 2018-19.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:02:21:07:48:25 by P G Tips.

Bathovalballer (IP Logged)

21/02/2018 00:19
Where is Stooke? Is he injured? He is one of our very few physical players and to go into any game without him is unthinkable, especially against a Sale side who are known for their physicality and will be out to impose themselves on our forwards. He must start at all costs, not Garvey who offers nothing like the physicality Stooker does. Also think I would start Phillips as well keeping Garvey on the bench.

This is a must win game and that means we have to get parity up front to stand any chance. Everyone of our squad is going to have to muscle up and make every tackle and contest every breakdown with determination and a true will to win. We mustn't rake a backward step or their forwards will rumble up the ground and release their speedy, straight running backs in our 22 which will inevitably lead to tries.

Must say try as I might, I am struggling to see how we can win, especially after watching Sale give Saracens a huge fright last weekend. Please Bath prove me wrong.

rainbow (IP Logged)

23/02/2018 08:48
So a complete turn around from Newcastle.

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