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The Way of the Warrior: Worcester v Bath
By P G Tips
February 11 2020


Mercer: return?

Bath will want to pursue the ‘way of the warrior’ visiting Sixways in Saturday’s Premiership fixture. As Storm Ciara gives way to Storm Dennis, high and gusty winds and heavy rain are expected for Saturday afternoon, weather almost as unpredictable as last Saturday at Murrayfield. Constructive rugby may not be the answer in such conditions, but fighting spirit, cool heads and warrior hearts will be prized qualities. Have Bath got it in them to win?

With the mid point of the season approaching both sides are near the bottom of a group of seven mid table clubs, bracketed by only eight points. Victory could catapult Bath towards the top four, while defeat could push them as low as ninth.  Of the 30 Premiership meetings between the two clubs, Bath have won 24, but last year succumbed to one of their most humiliating defeats in a decade. Leading 19-3 at half time (and seemingly in control) they failed to score again. Having lost red carded Ross Batty fifteen minutes from time they suffered three yellow cards in the eighteen minutes of extra time, conceding ten points to lose 21-19. They will be desperate to avoid a repeat but Worcester will feel confident of netting their fifth Premiership win of the campaign.

 

Forwards such as Schonert, Mama, Kitchener and Du Preez should relish the testing conditions while Duncan Weir at stand off could be the ideal man to control tempo and territory with his kicking. If chances do come to run the ball, watch out for Humphreys, Shillcock and the highly rated rising star at centre Ollie Lawrence.

 

Bath have a strong pack and set piece of their own of course and will be hoping for good news from the England camp. Will Stuart may be retained this week in preparation for the Ireland game, but Bath skipper Charlie Ewels, discarded last week, may be released as could Tom Dunn. Taulupe Faletau is available for selection, as is Zach Mercer who is back in full training. If the match is tight he could be the ideal forward to add zest and energy from the bench. Aled Brew and Ruaridh McConnochie are both described as “there or thereabouts”. If all are available Bath should have few excuses if they fail to put in a combative performance.

 

In Henry V, the young King describes his army as “but warriors for the working day.” Saturday’s weather threatens a tough working day for Bath but a workmanlike win, based on warrior spirit, would be very welcome.

 

 

Possible Teams:

Bath
Obano, Dunn, Judge, Ewels (Capt.), McNally, Louw Ellis, Faletau. Chudley, Burns. Brew, Willison, Matavesi, Rokodoguni. Homer

Replacements:
Boyce, Walker, Nixon, Stooke, Mercer. Fox, Priestland, McConnochie

Worcester Warriors:
Waller, Moulds, Schonert, Bresler, Kitchener, Mama, Lewis, Du Preez. Kitto, Weir. Howe, Beck, Lawrence, Humphreys. Shillcock.

Replacements: Taufete’e, Bower, Palframan, van Velze, Hill. Heaney, Lance, Hill.