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News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec

By Jonathan Stockham
February 23 2015

Northampton Saints travelled home from the West Country with another Aviva Premiership victory in the bag after a hard fought match between the top two sides in the league. Apart from a worrying first 5 minutes when Bath scored a converted try after powerful running by their backs, Saints’ powerful pack and better game management put the visitors in control for the rest of the game.    



Aviva Premiership Round 15

The Recreation Ground, Bath.

21 February 2015

Bath Rugby 13, Northampton Saints 21

A visit to the fair city of Bath is always something to be eagerly anticipated, given the historic setting and fabulous architecture. However, many Saints fans travelled to Bath with a certain amount of trepidation, given recent performances by the team  against Racing Metro and London Irish, added to the fact that Bath have not lost at home for a year. On the other hand, the counter-statisticians would point out that Bath haven’t beaten Saints in any competition since 2011. In the bars around the ground before the game there was much talk about players missing on international duty and through injury/bans. The best estimate was eight first teamers apiece. Game on then!


Following an immaculately observed minute’s silence for the 4 victims of the runaway truck accident nearby a week before, Bath kicked off towards the IPL Stand and were very quickly on the score board. Within only 2 minutes, a rather uncertain Olly Woodburn trotted over in the left corner having been put into space by what looked like a forward pass, dropped the ball backwards, danced inches in play along the touch line and then ran round in goal to touch down for the try without anyone laying a finger on him! The TMO was asked to check whether he had dropped the ball forward but not if the final pass had also been illegal. Hmmm…


Bath might have been over in the right corner earlier in the move but for Jamie Elliot’s last ditch tackle on Semesa Rokoduguni who was just starting to celebrate the try when the fearless Saints’ winger clattered him to the ground inches short of the line.


So, 7-0 with some spectators still taking their seats! That lead edged further ahead with home debutant Tom Homer, ex of London Irish, slotting over a penalty. No panic amongst this Saints team however. Sitting just behind the posts, it was obvious that the leaders in the team calmly had a word, encouraged the boys and sorted one or two misunderstandings.


The table started to turn after about 15 minutes. Although Saints’ were by no means dominant in the scrum, they were able to win and retain enough possession to attack Bath and the pressure eventually told with two finely worked tries for the visitors before half time.


The first, was by James Wilson, who managed to dot down in the left corner just milliseconds before his foot hit the touch line whilst being tackled by Francois Louw. The TMO had a long look at it and it was almost an indentikit of Vuniploa’s recent try for England. The try came after a break upfield by Elliot and with Tom Stephenson timing the pass the Wilson perfectly the Kiwi full back had to retain his composure in getting the ball down in the nick of time.







Stephen Myler, missed the conversion but was on target a few minutes later to claim the extras after Saints’ second try. This came
from some brilliant counter attacking rugby when Bath overthrew at a line out, the ball being snaffled by Calum Clark. The attack moved upfield, out to the left, recycle and back to the right through slick handling by Gareth Denman and Ken Pisi to Mike Haywood who angled back towards the posts, wrong footing the defence and strolling over for the 5 points. 10-12 at half time and starting to look good for the visitors.

Saints had lost the services of James Craig to a bang on the head and a nasty cut after a clash of heads with Calum Clark. [Insert own jokes about thick skulls here!] Phil Dowson came off the bench with Samu Manoa moving to second row.


Saints improved the lead to 10-15 soon after the restart when Rokoduguni took the ball into touch near the Bath goal line and then threw it over the ad hoardings to prevent a quick throw! Dull boy! And the gap widened even further to 10-18 with a Saints penalty kick after a rather harsh decision for a deliberate knock on by Woodburn.


Just as harsh was the same decision against Phil Dowson who knocked when tackling minutes later but Homer missed the kick. He was successful, however, later in the half after Micky Youngs charged up field for a rare foray into Saints territory and the visitors were pinged for one of any variety of tackle/maul/ruck offences! 13-18 with 23 minutes left.


Saints now really put game management to the fore. Kicking penalties for touch deep in Bath’s 22, rather than going for points but having a restart kick to contend with meant that Bath were kept pinned down deep in their territory. Saints had the confidence to apply “offensive defence” to play in the right part of the pitch, not necessarily with the ball. The pressure eventually told with 10 minutes left when a penalty ended the scoring for the day with Myler adding another 3 points from a penalty to bring the total to 13-21. No losing bonus point for Bath and 4 hard earned points away from home for Saints!


The scrummage had gradually started to go Saints way with the introduction of Alex Corbisiero on the loosehead, not that the other Alex (Waller) had been too shabby up to that point. Bath have a highly rated pack and a front row containing Paul James, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas is to be respec
ted. Add to that Stuart Hooper at lock and a heavyweight (too heavy?) but crafty back row, the pack are no push over.


Where Bath looked vulnerable was at half back, especially at 10. Without George Ford, away on England duty pulling the strings, the back division never really sparked into life after their initial flurry led to the try.


Sam Burgess was given huge praise by his teammates for his first ever turn over in Bath colours, apparently, but the national press reporters and some of the Bath support in the IPL Stand sat near me are getting very restless to see something significant from this guy. I’ll say no more to add to the misery but we saw much more promising displays from some young England qualified backs in the form of Elliot and Tom Stephenson.


Jamie Elliot is fearless, tackles hugely above his weight, has great acceleration and running lines and a tremendous side step. Tom Stephenson was greatly improved compared to his performance against London Irish last week and was a constant threat to the Bath defence.


Despite spending the last 8 minutes with only 14 men after George Pisi’s yellow card for making contact with Rokoduguni in the air, the management of territory and possession ensured that Saints closed out the game with a series of phases to keep the ball before Bath eventually strayed offside on 80 minutes.


Job done away from home against the second top side in the league and a gap of 9 points opening up between first and second. The battle for 3rd place and below is developing into a real dogfight which may well take the focus away from Saints as teams like Saracens, Sale and Chiefs aim to get into the playoffs.


Come on you Saints!




Bath Rugby: Homer; Rokoduguni, Burgess, Eastmond, Woodburn; Devoto, Young; James, Webber, Thomas, Hooper (capt), Day, Garvey, Louw, Fearns.

Substitutes: Batty, Auterac, Palma-Newport, Faosiliva, Houston, Stringer, Jennings, Arscott.


Northampton Saints: Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, Stephenson, Elliott; Myler, Dickson (capt); Waller, Haywood, Denman, Craig, Day, Manoa, Clark, Dickinson.

Substitutes: Williams, Corbisiero, Mercey, Harrison, Dowson, Fotuali'i, Olver, Tuala.


Ref: Greg Garner


Attendance: 13,349

Jim Says


Mikey Hayward Says


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News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 12:08
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
St Marlowe (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 12:13
Thanks Cap'n a grood read !

David L

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

- Live wrong and preposterously

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
smurfomatic (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 12:38
On the other hand, the counter-statisticians would point out that Bath havenít beaten Saints in any competition since 2011.

On the other hand, some counter-counter-statisticians might point out the 46-14 demolition Saints suffered at the Rec in the LV cup game of January 2012...(Sm100)

A cracking report Stockers, you'd almost think you were right behind me (and about twenty seats to the right)

Photo Gallery

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
LaurieK (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 13:03
I didn't realise your front room was that big, Smurf.

Still gutted we couldn't get down but from what we saw your report is a good reflection, Jonathan. Thanks.

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
St Dormouse (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 13:13
My word,a very well written and detailed match report, much appreciated.

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
Howlin (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 13:24
Great report thanks; what with Claire's photos and the Saints TV interviews that is better than anything on offer in the national media imo.

Saint 'til I die

Eif Jones
Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
Eif Jones (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 14:06
When a team scores early and easily there is a danger of relaxing whilst the oppos are forced to raise their standard. That's what happened, as Saints got going, Bath lost their way. At the crucial turning point, Bath failed the first commandment of the long line-out throw i.e. do not throw too long, if you err then slightly short is far better than slightly long. Your last man in the line-out is lifting whilst oppos last man is free to take advantage, and the Saints last man certainly did that. Bath went from a good attacking position to conceding a try in a fraction and, despite their command of the scrums, they never got back into the game.

As for the media super-star Burgess, he was so out of his depth in the centre. Surely, there is no way for him to be challenging for an RWC spot.

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
Dave Jackson (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 14:51
Eif. You missed the bit out saying good report well written.

Look forward to the day when we see your match report published

And. Yes good report. Summed the day up well.

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
Bartonsaint (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 15:33
Come off it, Dave. You know there would only be such praise if it was written by a Welshman, off his left hand!

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
Phil. (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 17:12
Nice one, Cap'n - many thanks!

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
riverlodge (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 20:46
Very good report, only missing any comment about the hail. so no weatherman bonus.

Re: News: Saints put Bath away in a bold display at the Rec
ballagher (IP Logged)
23/02/2015 22:11
A very predictable report I thought.

Predictably good. Thanks Jonathan smiling smiley

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