Borthwick rues missed opportunity

Bath captain Steve Borthwick admitted his side’s 22-16 defeat to Clermont Auvergne in the European Challenge Cup final had been a “huge missed opportunity”.

It was not until Bath fell 22-6 down after an hour that they began to play and Joe Maddock scored a brilliant solo try.

A third Olly Barkley penalty set up a grandstand finish – but Bath had left themselves with too much to do.

Peter Short had a potential try disallowed by the video referee and then Danny Grewcock knocked the ball on as Bath looked for the winning score with the last play of the game.

It is now nine years since the former giants of English rugby won their last silverware and they have lost three finals in that time – twice in this competition and once to Wasps in the Guinness Premiership.

Defeat also cost Bath a place in next season’s Heineken Cup – a berth which now goes to Harlequins by virtue of their seventh-placed finish in the Premiership.

“This is a huge missed opportunity. The guys showed huge courage in that second half but left it too late,” he said.

“That try was disallowed and I thought that last play we were going to drive them over under posts but suddenly it falls down behind us.

“It is a huge missed opportunity.”

Bath led at half-time following two Barkley penalties but barely deserved to as Clermont had made all the running and blew two golden try-scoring opportunities.

After the interval, the French side were not nearly so generous and scored three times in 16 minutes through winger Julien Malzieu, centre Tony Marsh and fly-half Brock James.

Borthwick refused to blame the fact Bath had not played for three weeks for their slow start.

“The review will be important. Perhaps we could have handled the three weeks better but ultimate responsibility is to the individual,” he said.

“There was quite strong breeze and whether we lacked ambition and thought we would wait until second half to tart playing I don’t know. We need to find out exactly why we didn’t start that game well.

“But everybody out there has played a lot of rugby over their careers. We shouldn’t expect to lose knowledge of how to play the game after three weeks off with a training game in the middle.”

Head coach Steve Meehan insists Bath’s ultimately disappointing season does not reflect the quality of players at the club.

“I feel for the players. They gave it everything in that competition and I am very disappointed for them. We will all have to get heads up and work harder on certain areas,” he said.

“We have quality players and we showed that today. I think you could expect Bath to up their game next season.”

Meehan admitted missing out on the Heineken Cup does not help his recruitment plans.

“Most of our recruitment us in place already,” he said.

“If we had of won it would have made things easier but we are pretty confident we have got the people coming in that we need.”

 

365 Digital

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