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Author Archive for Paul Rees at The Rec

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Tadhg Beirne powers Scarlets to verge of last eight in masterclass at Bath

• Bath 17-35 Scarlets• Tadhg Beirne shows the way as Scarlets give Bath a masterclass in broken playThe Scarlets are on course to make the last eight of the Champions Cup despite losing their two opening matches after giving Bath, who started the night…

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Anthony Watson double sinks Toulon in Champions Cup to take Bath top

• Pool 5: Bath 26-21 Toulon• Home side hold firm despite late rally from visitorsBath showed heart in defeat in Toulon last week but here a pacemaker made the difference. The England head coach, Eddie Jones, was among the spectators as Anthony Watson, …

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Josh Lewis scores 13 points on first start as Bath beat wasteful Treviso

• Bath 23-0 Treviso• Aled Brew and Zach Mercer score a try apieceTreviso had only won on the road four times in 19 European Cup campaigns, the last time at the Dragons, a side with a record in the tournament almost as undistinguished as their own. They…

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Rhys Priestland inspires Bath to an impressive victory over Saracens

• Bath 31-21 Saracens
• Semesa Rokoduguni scores two late tries for home side

Rhys Priestland squatted in the shadows at Bath for two years as the light danced on George Ford, but one of the more reserved playmakers has emerged unblinking to more than offset the loss of the England fly-half. He set up a victory that initially looked routine only to become remarkable when in the final four minutes Semesa Rokoduguni scored two solo tries.

Few sides find time to breathe when confronted by Saracens’ suffocating defence, but under Priestland’s gentle prompting, Bath regularly worked the ball wide and so discomfited the European champions that by the end of the first half Schalk Brits was remonstrating furiously with the officials after Kahn Fotuali’i milked the hooker for a penalty.

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Jack Nowell’s all-round excellence for Exeter outshines Semesa Rokoduguni

England coach Eddie Jones’ selection of Nowell over Rokoduguni seemed vindicated as the Exeter winger helped his side to a 17-11 win over Bath

There was no shortage of advice for the watching Eddie Jones from the home supporters in the first half as the Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, who had just been left out of the England training camp in Brighton this week, ran rampant.

He scored one try and was denied another by a wing Jones selected ahead of him, Jack Nowell. “It was like Harry Potter had given him his cloak of invisibility,” said the Exeter head coach, Rob Baxter. “We couldn’t lay a hand on him.”

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Exeter’s James Short scores two late tries to seal fightback at Bath

• Bath 11-17 Exeter
• Exeter score twice in last nine minutes against 14-man Bath

Exeter have, in their seven seasons in the top flight, tended to reserve their worst for Bath, the only Premiership club they had not travelled to and won. For 70 minutes here, they never threatened to erase that blot only to end a year that had seen them achieve two firsts, the knock-out stage of the European Cup and the play-off final at Twickenham, on a high that was all the more elevated because even Nostradamus would not have seen it coming.

Bath were leading 11-0 going into the final quarter, comfortable in their superiority. Exeter were dogged in defence but laboured in attack, unable to create space through passing. Even when Gareth Steenson scored their first points with a 45-metre penalty after Nick Auterac had been ruled to have taken down a scrum, it looked a sure home victory. And then the Chiefs, like some volcano long declared extinct, erupted, sealing their first league victory here with two tries in the last 10 minutes by their replacement wing James Short.

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Anthony Watson sent off as Saracens beat Bath to extend league lead

• Bath 10-30 Saracens
• England’s Watson shown red card for dangerous challenge in the air

The England wing Anthony Watson was sent off for a dangerous challenge on his international team-mate Alex Goode as Bath slumped to their fifth home league defeat of the season and the champions, Saracens, all but confirmed their place in the play-offs.

Bath had beaten Saracens only once in their last 11 Premiership encounters, – here last season. They went into this match on their best run of form of the campaign, two victories, but were behind on six minutes after a passage of play that summed up their year.

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Wasps up to third as two Frank Halai tries take the wind out of Bath

• Bath 18-24 Wasps

Wasps had scored eight tries and 64 points at Saracens six days before, but while everything stuck then, it tended to fall apart here. Not that it mattered as they breezed their way to their fifth successive Premiership victory, which hoisted them to third in the table and condemned Bath to another home defeat.

Wasps were not helped, perversely, by Bath’s bashfulness. Such was the lack of confidence of a side that had lost five of its past seven home matches that they played like the away team, defending for long periods. Tackling was what Bath were most proficient at. They lacked the imagination and fluency of their opponents in possession; their set-pieces were, until the final minutes of the opening half, so unproductive that when they launched their first attack on 21 minutes and won a lineout in the Wasps’ 22, the crowd responded with an ironic cheer, groaning again when the move was botched.

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Tom Homer reboots Bath’s play-off ambitions by sinking Sale Sharks

• Bath 12-3 Sale

Bath returned to second in the table, if only temporarily, with one of the ugliest victories their supporters have witnessed for a few seasons. After three successive defeats, it was considered to be all about the result which was just as well because as performances go, this was, 27 penalties and all, one of most joyless in many a year, a cure for insomnia.

Bath looked secure in second place before the start of the Six Nations but three successive defeats had taken them out of the play-off positions. Sale, with seven victories in their previous 10 Premiership matches, had moved stealthily into top four contention and had won on two of their last three visits here.

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Sam Burgess cuts frustrated figure as Bath struggle to cope with Northampton

• Bath 13-21 Northampton
• Victory helps Saints remain top of Premiership table by nine points
Russell Crowe: Burgess should be playing for England

Reality has come home for Sam Burgess. The hype that greeted his arrival from rugby league last autumn and his expected, quick promotion to the England squad has faded and on a cold day against the leading side in the Premiership, he cut a frustrated figure waiting, mostly in vain, for the ball.

He went looking for it and tried to get involved, but has moved from a sport where he was regularly involved in matches to one where play passes him by for long periods. He was at outside-centre on Saturday, but Bath won so little possession after the opening 20 minutes that he may as well have been seated in the stands.

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Northampton’s Stephen Myler on the spot as Bath run out of steam

• Bath 13-21 Northampton

Bath had not beaten Northampton since this weekend four years ago but they were defending an 11-month unbeaten home record in the Premiership. Both sides were shorn of their leading England players, either through unavailability or injury, and it was the home side who missed their regulars most, blowing an early 10-point lead with no one taking hold of the rudder.

The early impression was made by two players not required by England. Kyle Eastmond’s failure to catch a pass cleanly confused the Northampton defence and the centre slipped through to free Semesa Rokoduguni with what should have been a try-scoring pass. The wing, who was capped against New Zealand last November and then discarded, was caught by Jamie Elliott. Bath went left and had so much space that Ollie Woodburn had the time to spill and then collect Tom Homer’s wayward pass to cross.

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Richard Cockerill and Leicester have no answer to revitalised Bath

Bath 45-0 Leicester Tigers pointless for first time in the Premiership Continue reading…

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Bath take heed of owners warning to trample Leicester into the ground

Bath 45-0 Leicester Continue reading…

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Extra training for Bath after poor defending in win against London Welsh

Bath 53-26 London Welsh Defence treated as an optional extra against London Welsh Continue reading…

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London Welsh look clueless as freestyle Bath run in seven tries

Bath 53-26 London WelshIf London Welsh thought it could not get any worse after their opening-day defeat to Exeter, they conceded one more point and the same number of tries in a frolic that had little of the Premierships renowned attrition. They did s…