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Sinners v Saints: Bath v Northampton

Cook: tempo

By P G Tips
March 6 2018

It will be a case of “sinners” hosts Saints in Bath’s Anglo Welsh Cup Semi Final on Friday. Todd Blackadder attributed Bath’s poor showing against Quins last Sunday to ill discipline, 15 penalties handing free “get outs” to the home team. He added sins of omission to those of commission – players not listening, failure to do the simple things well and to grasp opportunities. The team now face a short turnaround to try to turn fortunes around.  Will that be enough time to atone?

Saints own halo has lacked lustre this season. They have lost 11 of their 17 Premiership fixtures and lie 10th in the table. Their last match saw Sale Sharks, narrow losers at the Rec the previous weekend, rack up their 4 tries before half time. A team talk ultimatum at the break “start playing or pack your bags” had some effect – inspiring a 3 try come back, but it was too little too late. To add to those woes, accusations that George North “did not want to play” point to divisions within the Northampton camp. Saints fans are more unhappy than Bath’s are.


For all that, honours are even between the two clubs in Premiership matches this campaign, both having won at home. Saints made Bath look pedestrian for the first 39 minutes at the Rec a month ago, before the home side took control late in the second half.  They will hope to exploit the inevitable fatigue of Bath’s five-day turnaround and any dented confidence from the defeat at the Stoop. Danger men Bath must watch out for are likely to be lock Ribbans, back rowers Gibson and Brussow and hard running threequarters Pisi and Tuala.


Increasingly this tournament appears the only chance of Bath silverware this season.  A win on Friday would only be the start as either Exeter or Newcastle await in the final. Bath need to rediscover the energy of their wins over Worcester and Treviso, coupled with the continuity, possession and territory that characterised the last quarter of the recent victory over Sale. As well as discipline, they need to work on penetration and finishing.  Only 5 clean breaks and 9 defenders beaten against Quins is a paltry return for 64% possession in the second half. Twice Bath players were held up over the line in that period.  Such a poor return suggests that the game plan is too predictable and easy to defend. Whatever the solution: set piece moves, more supporting runners, quicker ball or counter attack, Bath must find it fast.


There are likely to be a few changes to team selection after such a short interval. One may be Josh Lewis who is fit and has proven a capable fly half when given the chance. The coaches will be looking carefully at back row balance too –and here both international calls and fitness state will play a part. Underhill is almost certainly lost to England. Could it be that Mercer, whose 21 tackles and an impressive 90-metre chase to haul down Marcus Smith stood out at Quins, will join him? If Garvey and Grant remain injured and Faletau is needed by Wales another new combination may require a lock to help out.


With both teams short on consistency and confidence, control at halfback is essential. For that reason I would start with Chris Cook for the greater tempo he offers and bring on Fotuali’I to close out the game. There is even an argument for resting Khan to give him recovery time and trusting Max Green, who performed tidily against Newcastle in this competition.


Saints are likely to arrive on Friday fuelled by a combination of hope and desperation. The hope will come from Bath’s stuttering form, the desperation from their own acute need for a cheering performance. Bath’s task is not only to prevent the Saints from marching in, but to send them slinking home. Bath's loyal supporters need a lift too- they want to see a win, by sin or by sanctity, by hook or by crook, they just want to see the team win this one.


Possible Teams:


Obano, Batty, Lahiff, Stooke, Charteris, Ewels, Ellis, Mercer. Cook, Lewis, Banahan, Wilson, Hurrell, Vuna, Homer.

Replacements: Auterac, Charles, Thomas, Phillips, Bayliss..

Fotuali’i, Tapuai, Brew.


Ma’afu, Haywood, Ford-Robinson, Ratuniyarawa, Ribbans, Gibson, Brussow, T Harrison. Groom, Myler. Pisi, Francis, Horne, Tuala, Mallinder.

Replacements: Marshall, Van Wyk, Brookes, Day, Wood, Reinach, Stephenson, Burrell,

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Sinners v Saints: Bath v Northampton
06/03/2018 11:47
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:03:14:08:08:09 by CoochieCoo.

BathBurger (IP Logged)

Re: Sinners v Saints: Bath v Northampton
06/03/2018 12:39
Cheers as always PG! Strangely looking forward to this one in the hope that the short turn-around means we switch on a bit more and really attack this game. Wouldn't like to give a score prediction though!

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