One month into the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership season and Bath have got off to a flying start.
Three wins from four games and sitting third in the current table has left the Bath faithful feeling optimistic about the remainder of the season.
The opening weekend saw Bath travel up to Franklins Garden to take on a Northampton Saints side that they hadn’t beaten away from home in 16 years. Fortunately for Bath that voodoo was ended thanks in large to the boot of George Ford. Ford slotted four penalties and two drop goals to guide Bath to an 18-0 lead. A late yellow card to Chris Cook saw the Saints score two quick fire tries but Bath held on for a massive win.
Northampton Saints 14 Bath Rugby 18
The first game at the newly redeveloped Recreation Ground saw Todd Blackadder’s men play host to Newcastle Falcons. No Bath fan went home disappointed as Bath scored eight tries with Dave Attwood and Semesa Rokoduguni both crossing for a brace. 19-year-old Zach Mercer more than held his own in the number 8 shirt as he stepped in for the injured Taulupe Faletau and David Denton.
Bath Rugby 58 Newcastle Falcons 5
Bath went into the third round of the season hoping to achieve a feat that avoided them all of last season, three successive Aviva Premiership wins. The blue, black and white were given a major boost in the build up to the game as Leroy Houston was resigned on loan as injury cover for Faletau and Denton. The first half would have left many Bath fans wondering whether the opening two games of the season were just a blip as Bath were behind 17-6. However, whatever Blackadder said to Bath at half time worked as they scored four second half tries including one for Houston as Bath ran out comfortable winners and finished round three top of the table.
Bath Rugby 37 Worcester Warriors 22
A visit to Leicester Tigers was Bath’s final game of the opening month. Bath never really got going and the numerous absentees through injuries started showing Bath’s weakness in depth. For almost half the game Bath had recognised wingers Matt Banahan and Aled Brew, recently signed until end of the year, in the centres. Bath didn’t manage to gain any point from this game and lack of discipline meant that Leicester ran out comfortable winners.
Leicester Tigers 34 Bath Rugby 14
Aled Brew and Leroy Houston weren’t the only new faces to be confirmed by Bath this month.
Robbie Fruean will add much needed depth to the centre position. The 28-year-old former World Under-19 player of the year will link up with Blackadder and Tabai Matson for a second time in his career having previously worked with the duo at the Crusaders.
Shaun Knight, a tighthead prop, also joins Bath following David Wilson’s departure to Newcastle Falcons. Knight has previous Aviva Premiership experience having notched up over 70 appearances for Gloucester.
Paul Grant will hope to dampen Bath’s back-row problems as he has also signed with Bath. Grant has played for Nottingham and Montpellier in the Northern Hemisphere as well as representing New Zealand in rugby sevens.
Bath head into the start of October with the following players unavailable due to injuries; Dan Bowden, Luke Charteris, Max Clark, David Denton, Taulupe Faletau, Jonathan Joseph, Niko Matawalu, Guy Mercer, Rhys Priestland, David Sisi and Jack Walker.