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PREVIEW: BATH v ULSTER
Bath will need to reprise the defiance of their win over Saints against Ulster at the Rec on Saturday. Resistance has been the defining characteristic of Ulster since 1690, epitomised by the apprentice boys watchword “No Surrender” at the siege of Derry and evident in the politics of the Province to this day. It would be fitting therefore for Bath to trump it with a performance for “Fortress Rec” to be proud of. So, in this season’s opening European tie, who will triumph?
TOPSY TURVY? BATH v NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Top meets bottom on Saturday in the week that turned the Premiership topsy turvy. Saracens 35 point punishment for salary cap breaches, since suspended pending appeal, is the biggest news of the week, overshadowing even the return of an England squad who gave their best World Cup performance for 16 years. For Bath and Saints though the news, although loaded with implications, is secondary: they have a match to play. So- who will cope with the distraction best and who will win?
Build on the Buzz: Wasps v Bath
Bath will want to harness the buzz of last week’s victory when they visit Wasps on Saturday. The character and tenacity that turned the team’s fortunes from one derby to the next are just the start. Now they will be looking for a complete performance and the first away win of the season. Winless Wasps sit only a point off the bottom courtesy of a losing bonus point. They seem highly vulnerable, but will be desperate for a first win of their own. Will they react with venom when their nest is poked?
Circle The Wagons: Bath v Exeter Chiefs
Bath will need to circle the wagons for the onslaught of Exeter Chiefs at the Rec on Friday. Last week’s record derby defeat to Bristol will have all Premiership rivals eager to add to Bath’s pain. There was little to cheer in the score line or manner of defeat, while Mercer and Clark are likely additions to the growing injury list. This seems a bad time to be hosting last season’s top try scorers, who are ruthless in finding and exploiting weakness. The Rec must expect a brutal siege.
BRISTLING WITH INTENT? BRISTOL V BATH
Will Bath be bristling with intent when they travel to Ashton Gate for Friday’s Premiership opener? They should be. Defeat by the Bears in the corresponding fixture last season set the tone for another inconsistent and disappointing campaign. Pat Lam has suggested he may play his battle hardened World Cup returners, while much of Bath’s strike power remains in Japan and their back row is depleted by the tournament and injury. Can Bath bait the Bears in their own pit and begin with a bang?
Glaws v Bath - A day out at our dear neighbours
If its possible to have a friendly against our dear neighbours, then surely this is it, with both teams already eliminated from the knock out stages of the Premiership Cup, relegates this match to preparation for the real action of the premiership in a fortnight’s time.
Tigers in the City
You were expecting the usual masterful prose and analysis by PG Tips for this week’s fixture, so was I until the summons to attend the drawing room on the estate, the conversation was succinct. “Pay attention Frivolous I’m on sabbatical take care of the pre-match review. You can go now” so here it is…
WINNING OR WAITING? BATH V WORCESTER WARRIORS
Bath host Worcester Warriors on Saturday hoping to open their account in the Premiership Rugby Cup. Tenth in the Premiership last year, Worcester have languished in the relegation zone or the Championship for the past twelve seasons, though last season were capable of some potent attacking play and made the semi finals of the Cup. Last week, fielding a comparatively strong team they walloped a youthful Leicester Tigers team 57-23. So will Saturday’s visitors prove to be Wuss or Warrior?
Scary Start? Exeter Chiefs v Bath
Bath could hardly have a tougher start to the season than Saturday’s trip to Sandy Park. This may be a tie in a minor competition to keep domestic rugby in fans minds during the opening rounds of the World Cup, and neither side will be at full strength, but Bath’s record away to Exeter has been poor for some years. Stuart Hooper has already said that the club will treat the Premiership Rugby Club like the pre season friendlies of previous years. The result though will still matter.
Who Should Be Captain?
Bath’s 2019-20 Captain is due to be named “shortly”. Stuart Hooper stated at a recent season ticket holder briefing that he is a “one captain man”. His chosen skipper will be both Club Captain and First XV Captain and the “co-captains” experiment of recent seasons will end, with one captain in charge of each match. An off season poll in the Chronicle gathered votes for 20 different players, but does that signify a wealth of leadership talent, or the lack of a stand out candidate? Let’s take a look.