Bath refuse to give up hope
April 30, 2011
Tom Biggs attacks a gap for Bath © Getty Images
Defence coach Brad Davis believes Bath can sneak a play-off place after they kept their slender hopes alive with a 14-11 win over Newcastle at Kingston Park.
Bath's fourth win on the spin, which also confirmed their place in next season's Heineken Cup, moved them four points behind fourth-placed Northampton with a round of fixtures to play.
Bath will fancy their chances of claiming the win they need as they host the relegation-threatened Falcons in an immediate return encounter. They will, however, also need bottom-placed Leeds to claim victory over Saints.
While that is an unlikely scenario, Davis is hopeful his side can still squeeze into the top-four following their impressive last-season run.
"We had two main aims going into this match. The first was to secure Heineken Cup qualification and the second was get to the last game of the season with the target of making the Premiership play-offs," he said. "We have done that, we have taken it to the last day of the season and now we have to finish off the job."
Bath had to grind out their victory with Michael Claassens scoring their only try in the first-half as they relied on two penalties from Butch James as well as another three points from Sam Vesty to secure the win.
"We would have liked to have scored more tries but Newcastle fought hard as you would expect from a side battling to stay up," Davis added."We had to make numerous changes and that disrupted our game."
The pain of defeat for Newcastle was softened considerably by the losing bonus point secured by a debatable late try from Luke Fielden after he narrowly won the race to Tane Tu'ipulotu's well-weighted kick behind the defence.
The point edged them two clear of Leeds and, barring an unlikely final-day win for the Tykes, their place in the Aviva Premiership for another season. The Falcons players embarked on a subdued lap of honour after the match, and director of rugby Alan Tait said: "The lads didn't know whether to celebrate or not.
"I asked Luke if he'd scored and he shrugged his shoulders, so there you go. But given the fact we've been on the end of some really contentious decisions this season, we'll take that one.
"It was a great kick from Tane and he's moving on at the end of the season so he's paid us back big time with that kick. We were very nervy and we couldn't get anything going at the scrum, at the line-out or in the backs. You name it, we couldn't get anything going and we have to learn to keep the ball.
"We have to go to Bath and get a result. We have to go there believing we can win because we really didn't perform today although we are pleased with the point."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson