I think it is safe to say the Bath against Saints game wasn't exactly the game we'd all hoped it would be.
I could sit here and and dissect the game and give a damming review. After watching the game again you could say there was lot's of bad points but also some positives that are emerging.
The main issue that came from the fixture was the impetuous kicking and inability to spread the ball out wide. It appeared that was plan A but there didn't seem to be a plan B.
There was very few times the ball went along the back line or went past Barkley before being punted down field. The theory of such a plan is to gain territory and put pressure upon the full back and either turn over or force a penalty. Unfortunately for Bath they chose Ben Foden, the current England full back, and opted to kick too deep allowing Saints to clear their line or counter attack.
With Nick Abendanon going over in the first minute after a chip through from Biggs expectations for the win went through the roof. Unfortunately that was the one and only try of the game. Penalties from either side filled the rest if the points in the 14-18 loss at the rec.
There was a few notable flashes from Bath-
- Abendanon had a a strong game. Obviously a try, a few little 'Bendy' runs and a kick from the tightest of angles in the corner to clear the line with good distance.
- The forwards are in my opinion starting to look a strong and solid unit, so much more of an improvement on the previous seasons.
- Defensively stronger than against Wasps, countless tackles being put in and being under that much pressure sadly infringements will occur.
For me the biggest proof it was an off day at the Rec came at the end. Finally a Bath attacking move with good pressure, four points down so nothing to lose as losing bonus point was basically in the bag. As the ball was about to go along the line in Saints 22 Bath were gifted a four player overlap, guaranteed try if passed along and Biggs would of only had to walk over, Barkley opted not to use the players and chip through but it went too far over and went dead. You could see Biggs frustration as he thrust his hand aloft in anguish knowing the win was there. Barkley may not of known the full circumstances so made a choice he thought was right these things can happen and I'm sure they do in all teams.
Many said the ref was poor on the breakdown Bath's continuous kicking led to the loss either way sadly it was a loss, and the first at home this season. But not many teams can go an entire season undefeated, we must remember this is a new coaching regime and building a new structure and basis to the squad. Before the season began we all believed this campaign was a learning curve to climb back up the table, and the Saints game certainly was a lesson to learn from. I still believe things will only improve and get better........Allez Bath