Sunday, 30 September 2012

Bath victory as Barkley sets Sale for France

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.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

An invitation I couldn't refuse!

Every now and again you get an invitation that you would be foolish to refuse.

After the Warriors game I wrote a tweet about what I believed to be aimless kicking by Bath. In the tweet I mentioned Gary Gold. What came next I truly didn't expect......a Direct message from the man himself! After a small discussion via direct messaging I had a better view of the tactics deployed in the match. From this original discussion I was invited to join him for a coffee at Farleigh House and have a relaxed chat. I later received a confirming invite from a certain Mr Flatman to meet the two of them. My eldest son was hugely jealous, as an aspiring prop he has huge admiration for Flats and I was off to meet him and Gary Gold. Well who would turn that offer down?

As I pulled up in front of Farleigh house it suddenly dawned on me how lucky and honoured for such an invitation, as walking to reception just scanning across the field and seeing the Squad in training mode in truly stunning surroundings. I waited in reception to be greeted by Flats who then progressed to walk me through to make ME a coffee! A guy I'd watched and supported for his nine years at the Rec making a coffee for me, instantly I realised just how relaxed and friendly the whole set up is at Farleigh.

For a period of time I sat in a room almost chewing the fat with Flats while Gary Gold finished up on the training field. From talking to Flats his passion for the club has continued off the field after his retirement and you can tell his friendship with the squad is still just as strong. Whilst in the conversation I was informed of quite nasty messages delivered to him and others in regarding the way the Barkley situation was handled. From talking to him he made total sense stating 'until all of the facts were in place why do any form of press releases, how would that help'. Olly Barkley made his final decision and shortly after they announced that it was going to happen, Bath don't wish to speculate or add to rumours and believe the fans are entitled to the entire story.

Upon Gary Gold's arrival Flats left us to it. The one thing I took from talking to GG was his intensity and passion as a coach, he is here to get Bath back in the map and playing clever and strategic rugby. His knowledge of statistics, facts and the working of the game is phenomenal. From watching relentless hours of rugby researching endless statistics is how the Bath game plan has come to light. It's not a plan he has conjured up its a plan that the 'facts' have developed. The issue that he raised was that the plan isn't the issue it's the execution of the plan.

From all of the statistics he told me the most frightening one, through all matches across the board there is only an average of three and a half phases played before a penalty is conceded. So much research has been put into this and with so much potential for an infringement playing to much ball in you're own territory could spell danger, playing too much rugby and going nowhere is far too dangerous and leave you having to defend rather than you pressuring up in their half. Possibly this could be the change of laws and rules now on trial in the premiership this season in which the players and officials have to adapt to. For the referees it must be even harder, for example Wayne Barnes refereed a fixture in the Championship tournament going on at the moment, where they are using the cadence 'crouch, touch, pause and set'. Then he has to officiate an Aviva Premiership game where the new cadence is 'crouch, touch and set' is in place. So for international players and Refs its a confusing time hopefully when the trial is over we will see a global ruling as in which other sport has different laws in different countries?

After a small time sat talking to him he invited me to his office where he had video clips to show me and help explain the theory behind the plan. Bath have been accused by many people (including myself) of relentlessly kicking the ball away, I was proved wrong! In the clips I viewed showed that Quins and Super 15 champions Chiefs, who are considered the most running rugbying teams, kick from hand more than you would believe. The problem is Bath get spotted as the kicks aren't going to the destination required whereas Quins and Chiefs execute theirs well. If a ball is kicked over a flat line into space to put them under pressure to potentially knock, make a mistake or even rush a short kick into touch that would be well executed. If you punt it straight down the throat of the full back allowing them to either counter attack or pick a well placed kick it is wasted ball. A prime example he made for Bath was in the saints game, Biggs chip for Abendanon's try and Barkley's chip through at the end. Biggs chip was barely mentioned as it was the right choice and worked. Barkley's chip through was far from the right choice and went dead. It's all about making the right choice and executing it well!

He said in regards to Barkley it wouldn't be fair as a coach to stop him from moving on, its a deal many would not say no to. With Donald, Heathcote, Banahan and Williams plus young Olly Devoto coming through as an exciting prospect at 10 Bath have a good depth in 10's and 12's. Barkley has been a good servant of the club and everybody supports his decision to move on and wishes him nothing but good luck.

Another little issue I asked about was regarding Bret Sharman. Because of his Twitter discrepancies he has become far from liked player in England, so why would Bath want him? Bath need to have four hookers listed for ERC competition, with Webber out they're one short. It's only a short term loan and as Sharman is very remorseful for his actions and is hungry to play and show he demonstrate his ability. So Bath really have nothing to lose, a hungry, talented and wanting to prove his worth as a player filling a space in the squad surely that's a positive move.

There was many other topics discussed ranging from the Rec, Rugby World Cup, Bath rugby history, Dewi Morris and Stuart Barnes. For me it was a very enlightening meeting and learnt a great deal.

I felt lucky to meet a Bath legend and I believe a future Bath legend. All Bath rugby fans want nothing more than to see them run out victorious and with GG at the helm I truly believe that is possible. I have learnt and hope many others will look at the bigger picture rather than the short term.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Exiles catch Bath napping

Every player in rugby has an off day and who can blame them they are only human.
With Bath lining up against the biggest sieve defensively London Irish what myself and most Bath fans didn't expect was a whole team whose minds seem to be AWOL. We as fans can understand a players off day but all of them??

A tentative beginning with Bath breaking the deadlock from an Olly Barkley penalty. A little tit-for-tat on the penalty count with both teams trying to open the game up, but mostly Irish seemed to have the bit between the teeth. Nearing the half an hour mark a fantastic move from the Bath backline had the travelling fans to their feet. A good interaction between the backs saw Donald float a pass to Eastmond after looping from behind him, he then released Abendanon who tore off down the pitch with Biggs and Eastmond in support. Abendanon in turn passed back to Eastmond who picked up his second try of the season, Barkley happily took the extras. With Bath in the lead 9-13 it seemed they were ready to take a firm grasp on the fixture and march on to victory.

Sadly this wasn't the case.

Another penalty followed for the exiles taking them within one point. Then just before the stroke of halftime they themselves ran in a try and Shingler converted taking Irish to a 19-13 halftime lead.
Infringements and lack of passion seemed to be making Bath their own worse enemies.
Unfortunately the second half continued this trend, Bath leaking points through penalties and silly mistakes. Bath managed to get into some strong positions but sadly either knocked on or failed to release the ball. It wasn't to be their day!
Another try and Shingler penalties saw the exiles run out victorious 29-22 gaining their first win of the season and Bath lose their second successive fixture.

So what went wrong? Lack of the fundamental skills, lose of concentration or just complacency? Were they just thinking we'll turn up and breeze it who knows.
One thing is certain the worst critic of a player is the player themselves, and I'm sure there is a squad tearing themselves to pieces.
A bad loss but sometimes a bad loss can give players a kick up the rear end and help motivate. It's only game four and too early to judge a long way to go and I for one believe this will only help to move Bath forward.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Exiles up next for The boys in Blue, Black and White

The next challenge for Bath Rugby is the 'old boy' exiles- London Irish.

Off the back of last weeks disappointing defeat to Saints how does this fixture fare for the boys in Blue, Black and White?
Yes this bout brings Bath up against Irish at the majeski stadium but the exiles are having potentially a worst season than the 'new boy' exiles London Welsh.
Irish's defence is likened to a sieve, conceding 40+ points a game in their first three games. Any team with this defensive tag line would now be in some major defence training.

Could Bath be meeting Irish at the right or wrong time? That's a tough one.

Bath I'm sure will be out to prove a point after the Saints game. Bath had the potential to beat Northampton but it was not to be and I'm sure the coaching staff have a few wrongs tactically to right this week. Hopefully for Bath the execution of the plans will implemented in the correct fashion. As Irish have leaked so many points to Sarries, Gloucester and Wasps Bath surely now have to bring the wings into action and let Biggs and Eastmond run at them.

The downside of the fixture for Bath is in Irish's only home fixture this season may of seen Gloucester out 40 points past them but they also got 31 in return. This is a sign that Irish will be a big challenge at home so Bath need to show their defensive qualities in full strength. Also the distraction of one Mr Barkley leaving the Blue, Black and White force for the sunnier climes of Paris.

Let's truly hope we get to use the back line and show the league what fire power Bath have got and over the next few weeks let Olly see what he's losing.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Saints learning curve

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

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

BT go sky high!!

So how many rugby fans out there subscribe to certain channels just so they can see their beloved team strut their stuff in the Aviva premiership?

And now many of those subscribers appear to be facing down the barrel of yet another one!

I was the proud owner of BT vision in Bath which is fed from the Bathampton transmitter, therefore I was paying for many channels I could not view. BT works as a glorified freeview box with Internet connection for the interactive extras. I subscribed to ESPN but couldn't actually watch it, genius. BT's response was I should get it therefore I had to honour a year's subscription, thank you so much BT.
Now with Virgin I have sky and ESPN and I'm a happy rugby viewer.

So imagine my true delight to see BT managed to out bid sky for the premiership rights. I may aswell give up trying to watch Bath on the box as the powers that be appear more interested in the £'s not the fans.

Can we all afford another subscription fee to buy another channel to watch rugby? Probably not I know for one I can't.

I hope for the premiership this is a deal that is lucrative but also it's one that doesn't detract armchair spectators from seeing the games.
I know more us to be released on exactly which media forms and platforms the matches will be dispatched for our viewing. Let's just hope and pray the poor fans on the street aren't going to pay for the hierarchy's apparent greed!

Please just let us watch live fixtures in peace!! It would be ever so nice of you.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Home at last and pest free.

On a little patch of grass in the middle of Bath a small group of people gathered together to watch a few guys have a bit of a run about for a quiet low key game of rugby.......who am I kidding! Welcome to the Rec for round two of the Aviva premiership Bath's first home game against Wasps.

After a scrappy nip and tuck victory against Worcester last week many were hoping to see a much more open and fluid game this week. A glorious sunny afternoon on a plush green carpet of grass at the rec was certainly geared up for it. Both teams had the wings bundled up with pace and skill the expectations leant theirselves to that hope.

Apart from being the first home fixture of the new term but a celebration of the 250th appearance in Blue, Black and White for one Lee Mears. A huge accolade for any player to represent their club on so many occasions, but as such a well decorated international and lion shows how much of a legend of rugby he is not just in domestic but internationally.  Not many hookers can notch up 42 England caps and 4 lions caps and get a try for both. Regardless of the international front he's the pint sized hero to so many fans and children, a player who always plays with 100% passion and commitment, just simply Bath Rugby Legend.

Both sides started to a trepid beginning and a little bit of aerial ping pong. Barkley started of where he finished last week taking the first three pointer. A wait until the 15th minute for anymore points to grace the board when Robinson brought Wasps back to level terms.
You could sense both teams were almost sizing each other up as there was small inclines of breaks and ball starting to move about but no noticeable scoring opportunities. Eventually the half an hour mark came and one of the new boys Dominic Day gathered the ball in the line out setting up a great back line move we had been waiting to see. Barkley picked out Hipkiss who in turn slipped the ball to a rampaging Banahan who happily charged across the line, gifting Bath with the first try of the campaign. Without doubt the ever reliable Barkley took the extras. 10-3

Wasps were not there to be rolled over and passed by they had the intentions of making a game of it, but Bath had the same idea's....the game was now on. Nathan Catt put in a chip and chase but lost out to Simpson. Simpson then began the counter attack and released one of the danger men Christian Wade down the wing, a dead cert of a try seemed imminent had it not been for a true last ditch try saving tackle by Barkley.
Wasps now had their tails up and sensed there were points to be had before the interval. Bath's defense held firm to a barrage of pressure until Wasps earned themselves a penalty and Robinson gratefully accepted taking it to 10-6 at half time.

Bath came back to the party with the bit between the teeth,a Gary Gold half time team talk seemed to fire them up. Some strong scrummaging From Bath saw Wasps get penalised, step up Barkley and thank you for three more on the tally.
Over the next few minutes a mix of errors and lack of concentration would see an influx of points. Bath were able to capitalise on a rogue pass by Simpson which the pinged off Palmer's back landing in the path of an on coming Biggs enabling him to kick the ball on heading a one on one race to the line with Wade, Biggs becoming the victorious winger and holding out the race to collect and score the try. Biggs at his best. Once again Barkley slots the conversion giving the home side a 20-6 lead and looking good.

A little problem that's still floating around from the last few seasons is Bath inability to deal with the re-start. Once again they lost possession and within minutes of the Bath try Wasps had one in return, a cross field kick from Wentzel collected by Vardell dropping over for the score. With Robinson converting Wasps were back within seven.

Bath undeterred by their try Bath seemed more eager to prove the critics wrong and show they're on the way back to their best.
Like a rampaging rhinoceros Carl Fearns charged towards the line and look almost certain as he looked to offload to either Biggs or Claasens rather than go for gold himself Wasps managed to stop him and also clear their lines.
What was to follow could be one of the best passages of play we've witnessed from Bath produced for many a season. Matt Banahan demonstrating another skill in his repertoire with a kick from almost 22 to 22 giving a huge territorial gain. From the lineout the ball got passed about as Bath made inroads towards the Wasps line, Abendanon flipped the ball to Barkley who in turn released Kyle Eastmond on the edge of the 22, the run from Eastmond would if not left a single Bath fan seated, carving through seven attempts to tackle him he moved his feet and shimmied his way over for a breath taking try. The speed in which his feet moved would surely of put Michael Flatley to shame. An all round go team try finished with a moment of individual genius. Ball back to Barkley who once again popped in another two points.

Another wave of Bath pressure followed and as Banahan took the ball into contact received an injury to his knee and being turned over by Wasps. The ball suddenly found itself in the hands of an ever dangerous looking Wade who was met by Mears in the wing rather than his major foe for the afternoon Tom Biggs. Once the legs of Wade were opened there was only one place the ball was going, a chasing Barkley could reenact his earlier tackle leaving the ball to be dabbed under the post allowing Robinson the simple task of the conversion.

The fixture was drawing to a close as Barkley again converted another penalty taking Bath up to 30-20 removing Wasps bonus point, as the final whistle beckoned an infringement by Bath gave Robinson a chance to gain the visitors the bonus point back, he rightfully did so ending the game at 30-23.

All in all a much more fluent performance by Bath well balanced tactics- kicking from danger and gaining territory but spreading the ball out to the wings and creating good ground when in good positions. Very patient in build up and no rash desperation running if yesteryears.
Man of the match going to a much deserved Claasens who played a clever game linking forwards and backs, comfortably keeping Simpson out of the game. From the whole team a solid performance, just a shame the two tries came from lacking in concentration but I'm sure this is something Gary Gold will address this week in training. Biggs coverage of Wade must also be commended to almost contain a handful for the game is no mean feat.
Hoping Banahan isn't to badly injured as his display at 12 is ever improving and along side Hipkiss a good partnership is brewing.

If this is the future of Bath Rugby under the Gold regime I can only say hallelujah.

Next up Saints.....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Anyone for pest control!!

Game one done. Bath took the win of a scrappy nip and tuck fixture against Warriors, and as they say four points are better than none. A win is a win and as I have had pointed out to me running rugby hasn't been overly successful for Bath, which is true I would rather they win ugly rather than lose pretty.

Next step is the rejuvenated Wasps. They struggled to stay in the premiership last season taking to the wire with Falcons on the last day. A few new members of personnel and the returning Haskell saw them play what can only be an epic match against last years champions Quins at Twickenham on Saturday. After losing a 27 point lead to lose 42-40 Wasps will be up to prove they're ready to put last year behind them. The game against Quins controversially came down to two decisions by the new TMO system and seemed to affect their game. Against Bath they will want to right their wrongs.

Similarly Bath had a slightly exuberant Ref who became a little to swift to blow up and not allow the game to flow. Luckily for Bath the Boot of Barkley managed to take more of an advantage of the frequent penalties than Andy Goode could. The first game of any campaign is always a tricky undertaking and to come out victorious will always aid the path through the season.

So what can we expect from a fixture between Bath and Wasps? If the game is allowed to flow all I can say is fireworks.
Lining up opposed to each other is four of the most explosive wingers in the league. Bath have Biggs and Eastmond and Wasps are armed with Varndell and Wade, so if the ball goes wide in the right territory of the park we may be treated with some pacey tries.
Claasens will have his work cut out squaring up against Simpson as both have the integral role of linking the pack and back line potentially releasing either set of wingers or allowing the two packs to drive it forward.
Bath's pack against Worcester was the strongest and showed the most stability I have seen for a long time. Louw may be toasting the bench for south Africa this weekend but one thing Bath have is a good depth in back row. Although the pack may be strong a certain few of the Wasps boys aren't to shabby either, enter messers Haskell and Palmer. Haskell since his little globe trotting experience tour has returned in good form and looks very powerful. Palmer has and is always Mr consistent and a handful for any forward.

We could be faced with firecracker of a fixture and hoping the Blue, Black and White faithful are there to lift the boys at the Rec and turn it back to the Fotress it once was. Regardless of the way in which the tactics may go, be it kicking or passing, I hope to see Bath 2/2 at the end of the weekend. So everyone practice for Saturdays encounter all together......'COME ON BATH'

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bath Barks back!

All the hype and expectations came to a head as Bath rugby squared up against Worcester Warriors at Sixways for game one of Bath's 'new beginning' campaign.
Bath lined up with a strong pack and a back line with pace to burn, a supporters dream expecting a bounty of tries.

From the onset things didn't seem that this was going to be the dream start we'd all dreamt of. Within four minutes Bath had been pinged twice in which Andy Goode gratefully accepted.
Bath seemed to have to objective to kick and chase as every ball that reached Barkley was rapidly punted down field.
On ten minutes Bath again penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown allowing Goode his third successful kick taking Warriors 9-0 up. With Worcester starting to build a good head of steam up and starting to pass the ball about Banahan was deemed to of deliberately knocked on leading to him going off to the naughty step for a ten minute time out.
Allowing Goode scoop up his fourth kick and taking Warriors to a 12-0 lead after only 15 minutes.
Despite the deficit Bath's game plan still didn't change not stringing together more than two passes and relentlessly kicking possession away. When Hooper and Schofield exchanged handbags off the ball saw both the captain's take a seat with Banahan taking Bath down to 13 and Worcester with 14.
Finally with 25 minutes played Bath opted to start spreading the ball and tried to get the ball to Biggs who was tackled into touch, but the ball was taken back for a Worcester infringement allowing Barkley to slot home the first three points for Bath. For the remaining 15 of the half a scrappy whistle filled game continued with both teams picking up another three points a piece. With half time the supporters hoped an inspirational half time talk from Gary gold could flip the game on its head.

It seemed something had shifted in Bath's direction and it was Luke Pearce's arm. As he kept penalising Bath in the first half it was now Worcester who he would now relentlessly call up for not rolling away from the tackle. His whistling eventually saw both teams reluctant to contend at the breakdown and leaving the game on a nervous edge.
Due to the infringements Bath had three more penalties in the first ten minutes of the second half bringing the score level pegging. Something seemed to spark a change in Bath's performance and on a few occasions they began to pass the ball attempting to break the Warriors defence . Barkley even opting for a chip through for Eastmond rather than a huge boot up field. Eastmond failed to get on the end but the resulting pressure delivered Mr Barkley to let Bath nudge their nose in front at 15-18.
The restart saw the Warriors throw caution to the wind and attacked hard and inched closer to the Bath line, the defense stayed string until James Percival found a gap from close range to regain the Warriors lead and become the only try scorer of the tie. The convertion attempt was the first missed place kick of the game as Goode watched the ball ping off the upright leaving only two points separating the sides.
As this fixture had now formed an eenie-meanie-mini-mo game as Barkley took his turn to add to his personal tally. Next Goode gets another chance for warriors turn for the lead, Sixways hits silence to see Goode miss. The wait wasn't long for Goode to be gifted an identical attempt as the last which this time he makes sure.
With a minute left on the clock and warriors 23-21 to the good Bath went for broke and charged hard for the line and the pressure worked. On the death of time the immaculate boot Mr Barkley stepped up and in amongst the jeering of the home crowd the final touch of the ball flew right between the sticks delivering a 23-24 victory to the Boys in Blue, Black and White.

As the saying goes a 'win is a win' but let's be honest if this is the tactical game plan of the 'new beginning' it could be a long season. The likes of Biggs and Eastmond lining up on the wings surely their pace and skill should be used!! Set pieces on the whole were solid and Barkley hitting 8/8 shows real promise. Barkley's place kicking under pressure demonstrated his return to form and must be the main positive from the fixture. Although a big rethink of tactics is integral for next weeks opponents Wasps who narrowly missed out on victory at Twickenham yesterday against last season's champions Quins.
It may be game one if the new campaign so let's hope then can build upon it and pass the ball.....

Saturday, 1 September 2012

It's game time!!!

It's finally here!! After all the waiting laced with hope and expectations the Aviva Premiership 2012/13 season is ready for our viewing.

All pieces of the Bath Rugby jigsaw are now slotted in to place and the picture looks good.
-The coaching team have taken hold of the squad, tweaked and trained them within an inch of their lives.
-Stuart Hooper is ready to don the captainship for a second term. With a season peppered with injuries and time on the sidelines he's out to prove this season Bath will be back as a contending force.
-The boys in Blue, Black and White took three from three in the pre-season fixtures. Some good looking rugby was played, although it was hard to gauge how the full power of the team will displayed with so many changes of personnel during the matches.
-Now the Bath faithful have a new spanking shirt to parade around the stands. What we received was traditionally known as a 'marmite' shirt. The purist and traditionalist believe is pulling too far from the old school hoops, losing a sense of history. For some the rugby league appearing shirt is new and stepping forward as opposed to looking back. Either way puff your chest and parade your plumage like a proud peacock!

Sadly during the opening pre-season Bath were hit with the injury of Tom Heathcote which will be a big loss, as he was a huge part of last season and a potential top drawer player of the future. Let's hope to see him role out on the pitch as soon as possible.

Step forward Worcester warriors for game one. A trip to Sixways last year was not a successful outing lets hope for a domineering start and get the season rolling. Gary Gold is lining up a strong side filled with power, pace, skill and natural talent.

15. Nick Abendanon

14. Tom Biggs

13. Dan Hipkiss

12. Matt Banahan

11. Kyle Eastmond

10. Olly Barkley

9. Michael Claassens

1. Paul James

2. Lee Mears

3. David Wilson

4. Stuart Hooper ( c )

5. Dominic Day

6. Carl Fearns

7. Francois Louw

8. Ben Skirving


16. Ross Batty

17. Nathan Catt

18. Kane Palma-Newport

19. Dave Attwood

20. Will Skuse

21. Mark McMillan

22. Ollie Devoto

23. Jack Cuthbert

The anticipating times are nearly over and it's in the players hands to bring us the jubilation!! Good luck to all Bath Rugby boys and let's make it an awesome year!