Close, very close. By the skin of their teeth the lads pulled victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday as Chris Ashton's exuberant last minute try and Stephen Myler's calm conversion edged Saints past Bath at the death.
We have not seen such a late, late show at the Gardens since Ben Cohen scored in what seemed to be the 20th minute of overtime to down London Irish a few years ago.
Thoughts from the Chron
10th December 2009
On that day Bruce Reihana's cool as a cucumber kick sealed the win and on Saturday Steve Myler's punt for goal looked just as much confident and assured despite the weight of duty on his shoulders and the Bath chasers bearing down on him.
In the euphoria of the win we sometimes forget the 80 minutes before and course we will all celebrate the win and the home record at ‘Fortress Franklins' but the draw might have been the fairer result when all is said and done. I wrote last week that Bath might just have a big game in them. They did, but given our current run of form prior to this game I didn't think we had the better run of things on Saturday. In fact I was surprised we did not have the usual big game in ourselves, especially at home. Overall looking at the game as a whole some might even argue that the better side lost but then again maybe some other factors played their part.
A lot was made of referee David Rose's handling of the front row battle. We know refereeing is a thankless task, we hear that from certain quarters often enough, but clearly some interpretations of what was right and wrong in Mr Rose's eyes were riling the Saints. Having only played wing or fullback myself I cannot claim any expertise in the area, the art of binding is all Greek to me, but the body language of our pack after being hauled back for another reset or when they were penalised spoke volumes. If it was purely a case of gamesmanship on our part or trying to hoodwink the ref as some would probably claim then we would see it every week.
No doubt about that especially when you are on the receiving end of a bit of a going over as we saw at Leicester, but no, not like we saw on Saturday. The frustration we did see might well suggest our pack had some cause for concern and it may well have affected performance overall as it does if you don't think you're getting a fair crack from officials.
That is of course not suggesting Mr Rose was biased in any way or that he favoured Bath intentionally, just that his interpretation of what Saints were doing and what Bath were doing in return when they packed down might have differed somewhat to what the team have been used to so far this season from other officials. What we have increasingly seen as a strength was somehow nullified for whatever reason and clearly not to our players liking.
Much was also made of the red card dished out to Matt Banahan for stamping and how the late try was scored down his wing. True in some respects but if you live by the gun then you die by the gun and despite protestations on the nature of sentence dished out television replays did show he had a case to answer. To be fair to Saints though they were ramping it up a gear or two just prior to his dismissal and as we have seen in the past the team losing the player galvanises their efforts. Having seen the Saints raise their game in the previous home game against Quins after Neil Best was sent to the cooler for ten minutes again we saw the team down on numbers up the ante. Some never say die staunch defending after Banahan had trundled off by the Bath fourteen looked to have won the day but for that last frantic minute. Or two minutes according to the referees watch...
So fair play to Bath, they almost put a very large dent in our proud home record but as the saying goes, a win, is a win, is a win. Despite perhaps not getting everything our own way more than one person reminded me on Saturday night of something said of the likes of Leicester in the past. It shows the makings of a good side if you are not at the top of your game for whatever reason but you still grind out the win. I'd go along with that.
BACK TO THE MAIN EVENT
The Guinness Premiership takes a back seat now until the clash with Worcester down at Sixways on Boxing Day. In the intervening two weeks it is back to the main event, the Heineken Cup.
After already having played the two ‘big boys' of the group, Munster and Perpignan in the run up to Christmas we have a double header against the other member of the pool, Italian side Treviso.
A week on Saturday some of you lucky souls (not me sadly) will be out in Bella Italia enjoying all that the town of Treviso, and nearby Venice, has to throw at you but first up we entertain the Benetton owned team at the Gardens this weekend.
Currently sitting third in our pool the intention of the next two weeks is clear, two maximum point victories. Hoping that Perpignan and Munster cancel each other out in the double header of their own over the next two weeks in Catalonia and Limerick it is our chance to steal a march at the head of the group before the final rounds of games in January.
When the draw for the Heineken is made every summer you will hear more than one media outlet describe the Italian sides as the ‘whipping boys' of the competition. They are expected to lose, and heavily, and having an Italian side in your pool is seen as a passport to the quarter finals as a runner up.
However try telling someone from Perpignan that. In the shock of the first round at the Stade Monigo, Treviso beat the newly crowed French champions to really put the proverbial cat among the pigeons. The game was expected to be a cakewalk for the Catalan side, a sure fire five pointer to ease them into their Heineken campaign. However on a day when everything the Italian side tried came off and nothing that Perpignan side did Treviso won 9-8.
Yes maybe there was talk that Treviso got the rub of the green and the bounce of the ball all day but luck alone does not keep you in touch, let alone allow you to beat, a team of Perpignan's strength and personnel. The very same Perpignan that beat us just six days later.
So what can we expect on Saturday? Well I am sure, as always, Big Jim and his coaches will not be underestimating the opposition in any way and a strong side will be selected to do the job. That Perpignan game may well have been Treviso's day in the sun for this years competition but anything more than a comprehensive win for Saints on Saturday might have the Italians thinking they could pick up their second big scalp in the return leg. It is a comprehensive win I am banking on, then all eyes to Italy.
Good article Chris but as far as I am concerned, we got a 2 point draw against Barf last year instead of what should have been a 5 point win..hence denying them a draw this time around is a fair result IMHO!
Look at it this way though Chris, you get to go to virtually every match especially at home. This is I get to go to Treviso home and away and the Oirish match. Living in Staffordshire is rubbish! Much rather be back home watching the Saints!
Enjoy your spaghetti, if your nice then we'll bring you back a bonus point and/or a Peroni!
The hint that Bath only did well because the Saints were under par does not rest easy with me. Bath are a goodish dide going through a difficult patch, just as talented as the Saints in my view and showed it in the game.
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