Will Bath run hot this weekend ?

Bath Rugby face London Wasps on Saturday looking to banish the memory of their 25-10 Guinness Premiership defeat at Adams Park at the tail end of last year.

After eleven completed rounds, Bath sit third in the table but with a game in hand on the teams above them.

Yet, despite their healthy league position, they have lost two of their last three matches; that defeat to Wasps in round nine and a 26-20 defeat to Saracens in round eleven three weeks ago.

Those recent defeats however were the exception to a good away record, with their only other defeat on the road coming at the hands of reigning champions Leicester Tigers at fortress Welford Road in round two.

The foundations of Bath’s success have been firmly laid, in the metaphorical sense at least, at the Recreation Ground, with a perfect record of six home wins in the Guinness Premiership.

The highlight was surely their 10-5 victory over leaders Gloucester Rugby in torrential rain at the Recreation Ground in early January. Had the fabled Doctor Foster travelled instead to Bath that evening, he would have found more than enough puddles of middling depth and it was a credit to the ground staff that the match kicked off at all.

Once it did, Bath put on arguably the performance of the season, playing fast, attacking and attractive rugby which belied the conditions and required skill and confidence to execute.

It is a brand of rugby that has become synonymous with Steve Meehan’s side since their opening day victory against Worcester Warriors.

In that match, they selected two Guinness Premiership debutants on the wing; six foot, seven inch Matthew Banahan and six foot, four inch Jack Cuthbert. Cuthbert claimed the headlines that day with two tries, but it is Jersey born Banahan who has made an impact in every sense, on the Guinness Premiership so far this season.

Banahan is Bath’s top try scorer with six tries from his eight matches, including a hat-trick against Leeds Carnegie at the Recreation Ground just before Christmas. That total leaves him second only to Gloucester’s Lesley Vainikolo in the race to be the league’s top try scorer.

The Opta statistics also show that Banahan is a frequent and effective carrier for Bath, averaging 68 metres per match for his total of 547 metres carried, placing him seventh in the list of metres carried by players in the league.

Despite his size, the statistics show he makes plenty of those metres through deft footwork. Banahan leads the league in terms of defenders beaten with 26 and is second in terms of clean breaks with 13.

London Wasps will hardly fail to see Banahan, but will need to keep an eye on him if selected. For their part, the visitors have two of the top ten tacklers in the league in their ranks in the shape of Riki Flutey and England’s current number six, James Haskell.

Despite languishing in eighth place in the Guinness Premiership, Wasps boast a defence that has conceded just 19 tries in the league, a record only bettered by their hosts on Saturday and Leicester Tigers.

Bath Rugby versus London Wasps kicks off at 2.45pm on Saturday 16th February. The match is also live on Sky Sports 2, with coverage starting at 2.30pm.

The full list of matches in round 12 this weekend is as follows.

Guinness Premiership round 12

Friday 15th February 19:45 Sale Sharks v Leeds Carnegie

Saturday 16th February 14:45 Bath Rugby v London Wasps

Saturday 16th February 15:00 Harlequins v Worcester Warriors

Sunday 17th February 13:15 London Irish v Leicester Tigers

Sunday 17th February 15:00 Bristol Rugby v Gloucester Rugby

Sunday 17th February 15:00 Newcastle Falcons v Saracens

 

Rugbyweek.com


 

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