November wasn’t the best of months for Bath Rugby. No less than 8 players were absent throughout the month on international duties. Some players returned from injuries, with others replacing them in the physio room. Worst of all only a single win in the entire month out of the four games.
However, as is always said every cloud has a silver lining. Bath’s silver lining came in the form of the Anglo-Welsh Cup. 2 matches 2 losses but in all honesty is anyone overly bothered? The Anglo-Welsh Cup is well known for allowing the clubs to rotate their squads and try out a lot of their academy products. Bath has been doing that throughout the season. In any case the thrown together squads made up of whoever was fit didn’t do too badly. A hard fought match against bitter rivals Leicester Tigers was decided by a single point. A Leicester Tigers squad who had far more first team players in, yet the youngsters from the West Country managed to almost hold their own.
The next week was a bit more of a challenge against Scarlets and a definite game of two halves. Bath, fitted with a couple more first team regulars, had a sublime first half. 21-9 up and looking as if the game was already won. Maybe that’s why it all went wrong? The Bath players were far too complacent in the second half and a flurry of changes by Bath favoured Scarlets as they managed to run away with a 44-21 victory. The most demoralising result of the season so far. Then you remember it’s not the League or Europe, the Anglo-Welsh Cup was not out main focus and hopefully it won’t have an affect on league performance.
Into the league and after previously having to wait 7 years for a competitive fixture against Bristol the next one came 4 weeks after the last. Once again it was the spectacle you expect from West Country rugby. Multiple rucks and 1 try, what more could you ask for. Bath were lucky but once again luck seems to be on Bath’s side this season. Bristol have been improving and do have a win under the belts they just lacked that all important clinical finish against a solid Bath defence.
The final game saw Bath travel away to Harlequins. Quins, like Bath, were unbeaten in the league at home and they had already overcome tough opposition in Saracens and Northampton Saints so it was never going to be easy. Once again not a very convincing performance from Bath and this time it reflected on the pitch. Quins were the better side and fully deserved their victory. The fact Bath came within a single point is remarkable and does show great character, but if they plan to win by small margins then Bath can’t always rely on luck.
Looking ahead to December it’s a hard month as Bath take on last seasons top 3 sides and have 2 fixtures in the Challenge Cup but Bath will be welcoming back their internationals, some long-term injuries will regain fitness and the new signings (Fruean, Grant, Tapuai) will be gaining match fitness, so the squad depth is beginning to come in to full fruition.
Only one transfer went on in November as Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu put an end to his spell in blue, black and white as he has now joined forces with the Exeter Chiefs.