Bath focus on European honours

When Bath play Saracens on Sunday in the European Challenge Cup, the West countrymen know that making a success of their season hinges on that match alone.

While Saracens are vying for Guinness Premiership honours as well after a terrific second half of the season, Bath have little to play for beyond this semi-final, and as hooker Lee Mears explained, it will be the difference between success and failure.

“Since we are secure in the Premiership and can’t make it into the play-offs, this tournament has become the focus of our season,” he said.

“Silverware is always the key to a club’s season and to have the opportunity to bring home a European title is a strong incentive for us.

“After being in the team who lost out to Biarritz in the semi-final of last year’s Heineken Cup, this match has a personal importance to me as well as the rest of the team.

“It is a great competition and everyone is always up for it and, once you build up a bit of momentum then confidence and form usually follow. I just hope it takes us through the match on Sunday.”

Bath, as with Northampton in the Heineken Cup, have suffered domestically but have prospered in Europe; they have not won away from the Rec in the Guinness Premiership but are undefeated in the Challenge Cup including wins away at Connacht and Montpellier.

Now they must travel to the home of the Guinness Premiership’s in-form team, but it is one of Mears’ favourite grounds..

“Home advantage is clearly something you always want, but Saracens are a really tough side home or away,” added Mears.

“That said, I actually like Vicarage Road because it is a great playing surface, but it can still be an intimidating ground and Saracens usually play very well at home.

“In Europe, the usual tactic is to concentrate on winning all the home games and then try and snatch a couple of away victories, so to have come through the Pool stages undefeated was a big boost.

“But Saracens are certainly the in-form side at the moment; you only have to look at the way they play and their strength throughout the team with a great set of forwards and lethal backs.

“They are going to be tough to beat.”


365 Digital

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