Ford: Bath won’t stop running

Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Bath boss Mike Ford has vowed there will be no let-up from his players after they moved back into Aviva Premiership play-off contention with victory over Recreation Ground visitors Sale Sharks.

Full-back Tom Homer kicked four penalties as Bath sunk Sale 12-3. It ended a run of three league defeats and saw Bath climb three places from fifth to second.

“We are pleased we got the win,” head coach Ford said.

“They are a tough side to beat, they get under your skin, they try to put you off your game.

“I thought we might have played too much in the first-half. Their defence was very good, and they slowed the ball down really well.

“But our game management was better in the second-half, and I felt comfortable once we were nine points in front because our defence was that good. They didn’t like scoring.

“We will have a couple of good weeks off now, and then we should have a full squad back.

“We were top-four last season until the last day, and then we got knocked out. There is no way we are going to relax this season.

“We will keep knocking games off one by one and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Bath recorded their first Premiership win for almost two months as they moved second in the table behind runaway leaders Northampton. They had suffered successive defeats against play-off rivals Saracens, Saints and Exeter.

For large parts of a dour encounter Bath looked short on confidence, yet Homer inched them home by punishing Sale’s set-piece indiscipline.

Fly-half Danny Cipriani landed a first-half penalty for Sale, but their failure to secure even a losing bonus point delivered fading play-off hopes another major blow.

When Bath resume Premiership action against hapless London Welsh later this month, they will do so buoyed by returning England men George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Dave Attwood.

And compared to some teams around them in a congested play-off picture, Bath’s Premiership run-in does not appear – on paper at least – to be anywhere near as difficult.

The only disappointing aspect for them, though, was a shoulder injury suffered by their England prop Henry Thomas that forced him off just 16 minutes into the contest. Bath are already without two other international props in David Wilson and Paul James.

Reflecting on the result, Sale rugby director Steve Diamond said: “There was a lot of hard work and a great defensive effort, and not to get a bonus point is disappointing.

“You would probably say no (in terms of a top-four finish) now, but there is still a lot to play for. We were pretty equal out there tonight for long periods of time – we just lost a bit of composure in attack.

“We are tired. We have a small squad, so everyone plays 80 minutes. We have just come to the end of four hard games, and it showed. In attack, we were just off the pace a little bit, but the endeavour was fantastic.

“We would have liked a bonus point, but we are still knocking around the top half of the league and giving sides a run for their money.

“We weren’t the best side tonight. They deserved their win, and we move on.

“Last week (against Leicester) we didn’t show up, and this week we didn’t put as many things together as we have been doing.

“If you want to be in the top four, you have got to be better than we were tonight.”

Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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