HISTORY MADE AT THE GARDENS
Bath’s long wait to win at Franklins Gardens was ended on Saturday as the boys in blue, black and white triumphed 18-14, thanks to the boot of George Ford.
Powerful work from the front five in the scrum, led by Henry Thomas and the lineout, led by Dave Attwood deprived a powerful Northampton backline of front foot ball.
Carrying from David Denton and Dave Attwood also gave Bath momentum which George Ford converted into 18 unanswered points until Chris Cook received his marching order for not retreating ten metres.
Cook’s indiscipline was much to the delight of his opposite number Nic Groom who touched down twice on debut to earn Northampton a losing bonus point, Stephen Myler converting both of the kicks.
Kahn Fotouali’i was impressive all over the park with his physicality and game management. Equally Clark outside Ford added some much needed explosive power to the midfield.
The substitutes did not let up and Palma-Newport and Auterac continued the demolition of a shaky Northampton scrum. Tom Ellis also featured early on because of an injury to Faletau performed excellently in his recently adopted back row role.
1 Nathan Catt (7) 2 Ross Batty (6) 3 Henry Thomas (8) 4 Charlie Ewels (6) 5 Dave Attwood (7) 6 Matt Garvey (6) 7 David Denton (7) 8 Taulupe Faletau (5)
9 Kahn Fotouali’i (8) 10 George Ford (9) 11 Matt Banahan (6) 12 Max Clark (7) 13 Jonathan Joseph (6) 14 Semesa Rokoduguni (7) 15 Tom Homer (6)
16 Tom Dunn (6) 17 Nick Auterac (7) 18 Kane Palma-Newport (7) 19 David Sisi (6) 20 Tom Ellis (7) 21 Chris Cook (4) 22 Rhys Priestland (6) 23 Jeff Williams (5)
BACK ROW HEADACHE
The injury to Faletau was compounded by Scotland international Denton also picking up an injury at Franklins Gardens. This means we could possibly see academy back rowers Levi Douglas or Zach Mercer feature this weekend.
The two injuries at Northampton will hurt that much more due to club captain Guy Mercer still nursing a strain picked up in training and with Springbok Francois Louw still away with the South Africa team playing in the Rugby Championship.
Tom Ellis performed well when called upon after Faletau went off and Garvey and Sisi are more then capable back rowers, hopefully both Faletau and Denton will return to action soon.
ACADEMY PLAY PART IN WIN
No less than six academy players finished the win over Northampton ranging from Kane Palma-Newport in the front row to Max Clark in the centre.
It looks as though that number will be bolstered by a back row inclusion this weekend and also the prospect of Scotland under 20 star Adam Hastings and young scrum-half Will Homer who both impressed as they made their senior debuts last season.
Bath have signed Wales international Aled Brew until the end of the season. A smart move as Bath currently only have three senior wingers in the side, Matt Banahan, Semesa Rokoduguni and Jeff Williams.
Bath are also expected to announce the capture of two centres by the end of the week, one of them largely believed to be former Crusader, Robbie Fruean. The Kiwi looks likely to join up with his former coaches Tabai Matson and Todd Blackadder later this week.
The other could be either Toulon centre Maxime Mermoz or this mystery Australian centre. Mermoz was a potential signing over the summer but interest cooled after he announced he wanted to stay with the French giants.
The mystery Australian has been a point of speculation for Bath fans, but three names come up time and time again, those are Berrick Barnes, Ben Tapuai and Anthony Fainga’a. Any of the three would represent some shrewd business from Bath’s new coaching duo, after the departure of Kyle Eastmond (Wasps) and Ollie Devoto (Exeter).
Luke Charteris, Dan Bowden and Anthony Watson who all missed the Northampton game with minor injuries are expected to be available for selection against the Newcastle Falcons for Bath’s first home game of the season.
Charteris a big name move over the summer and he could partner either Dave Attwood or Charlie Ewels in a strong second row also bolstered by the arrival of former Gloucester lock, Elliot Stooke.
1 Nathan Catt 2 Ross Batty 3 Henry Thomas 4 Luke Charteris 5 Dave Attwood 6 Matt Garvey 7 Tom Ellis 8 David Sisi
9 Kahn Fotoauli’i 10 George Ford 11 Matt Banahan 12 Max Clark 13 Jonathan Joseph 14 Semesa Rokodugnuni 15 Tom Homer
16 Michael van Vuuren 17 Nick Auterac 18 Kane Palma-Newport 19 Charlie Ewels 20 Levi Douglas 21 Will Homer 22 Rhys Priestland 23 Anthony Watson
Bath Rugby by 7