Matt Stevens out to wreck Dallaglio’s retirement

Matt Stevens is planning to tear up his former England and British Lions colleague Lawrence Dallaglio’s retirement party plans at Adams Park on Sunday as he bids for a place in the Guinness Premiership final.

Dallaglio, now 36, is hanging his boots and at the end of this season to bring down the curtain on an illustrious club and international career.

But his England team mate Matt Stevens is backing Bath to make sure the former England captain bids farewell to the game of rugby in High Wycombe on Sunday and not after another appearance in a Guinness Premiership final at Twickenham in a week from Saturday.

“I’d take great delight in ruining Lawrence Dallaglio’s retirement party plans on Sunday because if we do that we will have beaten Wasps and we’ll be in the Premiership final,” Stevens told This is Bath.

“I get along really well with Lawrence. He’s a great guy, a great captain and his achievements in the game will never be forgotten.

“But I’d love to give him a hug after the final whistle on Sunday and wish him all the best in his retirement after we’ve beaten them and booked a place in the Premiership final ourselves.

“He’s won enough in his time and if we beat them, he’d be man enough to take it on the chin and wish us all the best.”

Stevens, the Bath tighthead, was named in England’s tour party for New Zealand earlier this week, limped out of last Saturday’s end-of-season derby defeat by Gloucester at Kingsholm midway through the second half with a knee injury.

The injury forced him to sit on the Bath bench with his knee iced up and watch as Gloucester edged a tight contest 8-6 to book a home semi-final date with Leicester this weekend.

Bath’s defeat saw Gloucester finish four points clear at the top of the table ahead of Wasps, who pulled off their ninth win in 10 games at Leeds’ expense to leapfrog Steve Meehan’s men into second place to claim home advantage on Sunday.

“Gloucester’s defence to limited us and they were allowed to limit us and that was disappointing,” said Stevens.

“We played a lot of rugby but some of it was the wrong kind of rugby but, even then, there were loads of times when I thought we would get a penalty which would be kickable for Olly but we didn’t get them.

“The game was limited by the way by the way the breakdown was refereed and that made the game tighter and slower than we wanted it to be.

“We have taken a long look at that ahead of Sunday’s game at Wasps and we’ve worked on some specific things that we need to change to cope with playing on a narrow pitch at Adams Park.

“We’re going up to Wasps on Sunday to win and, categorically, I don’t think anybody in the team doesn’t believe we can.

“Wasps have beaten us twice during the regular season but this Bath side has developed since we last met them.

“We’ve learned from our mistakes all season and we are, very definitely, a better side now.”

In hindsight, Stevens believes last weekend’s defeat at Gloucester could be just the right wake up call for a drive all the way to the Premiership title – Bath’s first domestic championship since the 1980s.

“In a way, losing at Gloucester may turn out to be no bad thing because it has acted as a wake-up call for us,” he insisted.

“We always knew we wouldn’t be dead in the competition if we lost at Kingsholm last weekend and while we wanted a home semi-final badly, it’s almost a good thing that we lost at Gloucester last weekend in a way.

“And that’s because there isn’t anybody here at Bath who doesn’t now believe that beating Wasps away from home in a semi-final would give us massive confidence to go on and win the final.

“Losing finals is a desperate experience and we’ve had too much of that at Bath and there’s a real will to make sure it doesn’t happen again this season.

“The players here have been through it a few times,

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