Week Two: Analysis and Round Up

EIGHT TRY BATH THRASH SORRY FALCONS

Bath’s first home game was definitely one to remember as devastating attack and powerful forward play saw Bath run in eight tries.

The scrum was on top straight away and that was how Bath got their first points with Ford converting the resultant penalty and then knocking over his third drop-goal of the season having grabbed two against Northampton.

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Semesa Rokoduguni scores one of his two tries.

The tries started to come after former Leicester winger Niki Goneva was yellow carded for deliberately pushing the ball into touch which gave Bath a penalty try.

George Ford was simply sublime, his kicking out of hand found space and touch time after time turning the Newcastle defenders. He also kicked six from eight conversions.

Rokoduguni scythed open the defence and scored a brace, Banahan plucked a Ford kick out of the air to score, the unbelievable Dave Attwood also got a brace, new recruit Stooke dotted down and local boy Kane Palma-Newport scored his first Premiership try.

Dave Attwood was sensational, his physicality is unmatchable and his carrying gave Bath front foot ball with Fotouali’i and Ford controlling the game expertly, the Samoan taking the pressure off Ford with his excellent box kicking game.

Bath are well and truly on the right track and the backs look back to their exciting best coupled with a powerful pack and youthful fearlessness, this team have exciting times ahead.

PLAYER RATINGS

1 Nick Auterac (8) 2 Ross Batty (7) 3 Kane Palma-Newport (8) 4 Luke Charteris (7) 5 Dave Attwood (9) 6 Charlie Ewels (6) 7 David Sisi (7) 8 Zach Mercer (8)

9 Kahn Fotouali’i (8) 10 George Ford (9) 11 Matt Banahan (8) 12 Max Clark (7) 13 Jonathan Joseph (7) 14 Semesa Rokoduguni (9) 15 Tom Homer (8)

16 Tom Dunn (7) 17 Beno Obano (6) 18 Max Lahiff (6) 19 Elliot Stooke (7) 20 Tom Ellis (6) 21 Chris Cook (6) 22 Rhys Priestland (6) 23 Jeff Williams (6)

ACADEMY ADDITIONS

Prior to Bath’s thumping win academy duo Will Homer and Max Clark were added to the senior squad.

Clark has made a statement in his opening two matches of the season stepping into the team as if he were a regular first team player. He is physical, abrasive and fast, he is balanced well with the electric, pacey Jonathan Joseph.

Will Homer performed admirably at the tail end of last season, he has searing pace and does the basics of a scrum-half extremely well.

HOMECOMING FOR HOUSTON

Fan favourite Leroy Houston is returning to Bath Rugby following a brief spell with Australian franchise Queensland Reds, who he joined in May in a bid to make Cheika’s Australia squad but he is yet to earn his first cap.

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Australian, number eight Leroy Houston is set for a return.

Houston will take over from David Denton due to the Scottish international having to undergo surgery which could keep him out for up to four months, so Houston should be around until Christmas at which point he will return to Queensland.

MERCER PLAYS SIGNIFICANT PART

Number eight, Zach Mercer played some excellent rugby, he carries well with power and strength.

He made some really important inroads against Newcastle, the Bath back rower is explosive and powerful and didn’t look at all out of place playing in the Premiership.

Charlie Ewels also played a large part and Kane Palma-Newport was excellent in the scrum. Levi Douglas, Beno Obano and Tom Ellis all made a contribution towards the thrashing.

With the squad rather small it is inevitable that the team will have to introduce a number of the younger and academy players into the senior team over the course of this season.

FANTASTIC FORD HAILED

After the brilliant performance of George Ford, Todd Blackadder was quick to point out the performance of his fly-half. Ford captained the team superbly and the faith Blackadder is showing in him seems to be putting the England international on this whole other level.

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George Ford has enjoyed a strong start for Bath.

Dean Richards also was full of praise for the 23 year old saying that he should have been awarded the man of the match award which instead went to Dave Attwood (who was also excellent).

POTENTIAL 23

1 Nick Auterac 2 Ross Batty 3 Kane Palma-Newport 4 Luke Charteris 5 Dave Attwood 6 Matt Garvey 7 David Sisi 8 Zach Mercer

9 Kahn Fotouali’i 10 George Ford 11 Matt Banahan 12 Max Clark 13 Jonathan Joseph 14 Semesa Rokoduguni 15 Anthony Watson

16 Tom Dunn 17 Max Lahiff 18 Henry Thomas 19 Charlie Ewels 20 Elliot Stooke 21 Chris Cook 22 Rhys Priestland 23 Jeff Williams

VERDICT

Bath by 25

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Bath’s Chances

Bath Rugby is undergoing a major overhaul this summer with the new coaching team, new players and even a new stand.

After finishing ninth last season the fans will be demanding much more from their side this season.

Having swapped Mike Ford for Todd Blackadder and Tabai Matson Bath have brought in two experienced, clever coaches. Blackadder has spent years honing his craft at one of New Zealand’s most successful franchises the Crusaders and was joined by Matson just two years ago.

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Todd Blackadder takes over from Mike Ford.

The experience the former Crusaders duo will bring will be hugely beneficial, a southern hemisphere perspective will give Bath a new view on the game.

The West Country club have bolstered the pack this year bringing in Wales duo Luke Charteris and Taulupe Faletau, England under-20 hooker Jack Walker, former Leicester forward van Vuuren and promising lock Elliot Stooke.

In the backs Bath have brought in Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotouali’i and 22 year old winger Harry Davies from Cardiff but it is widely expected a couple of other players will join the club now Blackadder and Matson have arrived in Bath.

The city expects and with the squad they have at their disposal Bath should be fighting for a top half finish this season. They could finish higher but with this season being one to rebuild and restart.

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Devoto has joined Exeter Chiefs.

A top half finish would reap the reward of a place in the Rugby Champions Cup which is Europe’s premier rugby competition.

With squads like Saracens, Leicester, Exeter and Wasps the top four is a very big ask.

Bath also will still have concerns about 12. The departures of Ollie Devoto and Kyle Eastmond to Exeter and Wasps respectively have left the resources at 12 rather empty.

Overall it is an intriguing time for Bath fans, patience may be needed and Bath fans should not be expecting miracles overnight. It will take time but should the coaches get Bath firing soon intrigue could become expectation.

Bath’s New Boys

Bath endured a challenging 2015/16 season but with that behind them and a fresh start ahead although Bath’s cards remain close to their chest with regards to appointing a coach a number of new faces have already been added to the Bath squad.

Jack Walker

Age: 20

Position: Hooker

Signed From: Yorkshire Carnegie

Honours: England U16, U17, U18, U19 and U20

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England Under 20’s captain alongside England prop Paul Hill.

The England under 20’s captain is a hugely promising hooker and could fill the void left by Rob Webber who has joined Sale Sharks. Walker is a very athletic hooker expect to see him make the odd burst upfield over the course of the season.

Michael van Vuuren

Age: 24

Position: Hooker

Signed From: Leicester Tigers

Honours: South Africa U20

Another addition to the front row brings valuable experience from Super Rugby as well as a short spell at Bath’s oldest rivals Leicester. The 24 year old will hope to become a big part of the team and try and push for a place alongside youngsters Walker and Dunn and the experienced Ross Batty.

Luke Charteris

Age: 33

Position: Lock

Signed From: Racing Metro 92

Honours: Wales U19, U21 and Wales

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Charteris wins a lineout against England.

A hugely experienced lock who has been massively influential for Wales over the past 12 years since making his debut. The lock studied at the University of Bath before moving back to Wales to play professional rugby. He should be able to provide experience to replace that lost by retiring captain Stuart Hooper.

Elliott Stooke

Age: 22

Position: Lock

Signed From: Gloucester Rugby

Honours: England U20 and England Saxons

The young lock is another addition to the tight five for Bath. His loan spell at London Irish showed just what an asset he can be in the line out despite an awful season for the Exiles. Bath will be hoping the former Gloucester lock can build on that potential shown whilst he is at the Recreation Ground.

Taulupe Faletau

Age: 25

Position: Number Eight

Signed From: Newport/ Gwent Dragons

Honours: Wales U20, Wales and British and Irish Lions

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Faletau dives over to score against the All Blacks.

Faletau the biggest name arriving at Bath after Wales’ tour of New Zealand. He is a force of nature regularly making World XV’s around the pubs and clubhouses of the world. With both Mafi and Fa’osiliva leaving the club he should more than fill the void and at only 25 he still has many years left in him.

 

Kahn Fotuali’i

Age: 34

Position: Scrum-Half

Signed From: Northampton Saints

Honours: Samoa

The Samoan man should be a good addition to Bath and could act as a mentor to Bath’s three young scrum-halves. His pace set him apart and he should be able to provide the quick ball to the backs that was lacking last year.

Harry Davies

Age: 22

Position: Wing

Signed From: Cardiff Blues

Honours: Wales U20

Not much is known about Bath’s young winger. He is 6’4” and 16 stone so looks a real threat. The Welshman looks like a real man for the future as he joins up with a rather strong Welsh contingent at Bath.