After the poor performance from Bath last week against London Irish everybody was hoping for a good win against Sale, especially to give Olly Barkley a farewell to remember.
Many will disagree with me but I left the Rec feeling positive about Bath's performance. There was signs that intention of the game plan was starting to take shape.
Yes some kicks were fruitless and poorly executed, but quite a few were lofted high giving the players to Chase down and add pressure. In the first half Biggs executed this brilliantly nearly forcing the player into touch he inturn threw the ball wildly back in field to bobble into the hands of an oncoming Donald, sadly Sale managed to halt his progress.
At times there was an air of frustration when Bath's back line took the ball and on several occasions instead of releasing either Biggs or Eastmond opted to dink through for them to Chase. In that situation isn't ball in hand in more secure than chasing an oval bobbling ball? I understand when facing a flat heavy defence it could be a good option, but a one-on-one with the dancing feet of Kyle 'Michael Flatly' Eastmond I know where my money would lying.
Yes the game was at times a little scrappy but a fan I saw the improvements were there to be seen. For some they require perfection and the point Sale are yet to win a fixture could be passed, I'm pretty sure as a fan a 21 point victory regardless of who it is is a positive step to take away from the game?
Hipkiss tackled like a man possessed even if he was seeming mildly concussed at one period, one concern was the huge hit he did make may see him up against the citing committee again. He may of received his man of the match award but me personally saw a man with a stronger performance and he scored! Stand up and take the plaudits Davey Wilson. Every breakdown he was there and on the ball he was like a rampaging bull, which is what lead to his try, a move he started and finished.
As all Bath fans may wonder and pose the question......why is Biggs not in the English set up? Between him and Wade there is only one victor. Rugbying abilities its hands down Tom Biggs all the way. When he unleashed a tackle that made everybody in the Rec's bones crack its true proof this guy is more than just a speedster. To take a lose pass From Barkley and chip and Chase down the wing taking Play 60/70m down the park and force Sale into conceding a penalty is another display of his insight on how to read the game move it forward when you as an individual aren't receiving much ball. So Mr Lancaster please take note get Biggs sporting the Red Rose on his chest.
Everybody knew it would be an emotional send off for Barks and this would be the case. He played with his normal kicking continuity and even passed a lot more than kicked. And what a dream finish it must of been by scoring the last kick if the match and his last appearance in the Blue, Black and white colours.His heartfelt speech at the end showed he's not just a Bath player but also a Bath supporter. You could sense the teams loss with the unified lap of honour finishing with the squad bringing him home with a guard of honour clapping through the tunnel. Mr Barkley you may be gone but won't be forgotten!
I am a firm believer that a win is a win, a cliche some will definitely state but I'd rather take four points over no points regardless of the style and prowess the team plays with. I'm also a firm believer of respecting the referee.....sadly yesterday I could not follow through with this respect. Certain decisions made by Mr Davey yesterday seemed slightly obscure. To signal a forward pass by Bath when Sale were in possession was unique luckily the Novia stand were on hand to correct his misjudgement. I'm pretty sure a few of his hand signals were closely linked to the Hokey Cokey rather than rugbying signals. It is fair to criticise an official especially with lack of TMO, although why just televised matches allowed it surely all but that's a bigger discussion at another time. The Sale try seemed to be a double movement and Perenise appeared to have downward pressure on the ball as he put the ball on the line but was judged to knock it forward. My problem with Davey was he seemed to a little influenced by the crowd, there was obviously the forward pass which was correct but then came the Powell yellow card. Powell hit the tackle starting at the chest but his arm went up to the neck, I do feel the chants of 'off off off' helped his decision to sin bin Powell (I may be wrong but this why my perception, please correct me if I'm wrong). Sadly a player I rate highly who plays with power and aggression allowed himself to demonstrate his frustration. Unfortunately telling the crowd to politely 'to away' wasn't the wisest of choices, but there was worse to come from him. While leaving the pitch to make his way to the changing rooms a large group from the terraces opted to show their disapproval of his actions started to 'boo' him, this behaviour from fans I personally don't condone but nor do I accept Powell throwing his empty water bottle into the crowd. It may of been a gingerly thrown bottle as to show his anger but attempt not to get in any extra trouble, unfortunately he still did the act regardless of the force.
I would much rather see Bath take four points over nothing at all! Progress seems to be on the up and with players returning from injury I left the ground feeling a lot more positive.