Booth bemoans Exiles' shortcomings
January 1, 2012
Bath's Nick Abendanon stretches the London Irish defence © Getty Images
Toby Booth admitted his battered and bruised London Irish team "did not come up with enough answers" after they suffered their heaviest Premiership defeat for more than five years.
Irish had no answer to a fired-up Bath side, crashing 30-3 in heavy underfoot conditions at the Recreation Ground and dropping out of the title play-off zone as a result. Bath claimed a first Premiership victory for two months, having last won in the league when they edged past Irish 13-12 on October 29. A fifth successive reversal would have signalled their worst Premiership results sequence for 10 years, but they never looked back after prop Anthony Perenise scored an early try.
"We didn't come up with enough answers, and quite often we gave away too many gifts," head coach Booth said. "When you have got a side that is desperate to get on the winning trail, like Bath were, and the conditions being like they were, it made it very difficult.
"We put ourselves under unnecessary pressure, and that is really disappointing. This is the most competitive league going, we all know that, but the good thing is you get a chance to put it right straight away. We have Sale next, and we are going to need to show our character and bounce back. We will find a lot out about ourselves this week."
It was Irish's worst Premiership loss since they slumped 35-3 to Leicester in May 2006. Irish showed the effects of just a five-day turnaround from their last league game - in contrast, Bath had more than a week - and that difference told during an attritional contest in gloomy conditions that was lit up by scrum-half Michael Claassens' thrilling counter-attack try sparked by full-back Nick Abendanon.
And to complete a miserable afternoon for the visitors, their England international full-back Delon Armitage, who had an abysmal disciplinary record in 2011, was sin-binned for a late tackle on Claassens. Reflecting on Armitage's latest transgression, Booth added: "It doesn't help, does it? To be fair, it had no bearing in relation to the game because of the scoreline at the time, but it is not going to help for the long-term, that's for sure."
Bath fly-half Stephen Donald kicked 15 points, but it was the form of England full-back candidate Abendanon and a powerful Bath scrum that proved the most telling factors.
"There are a lot of good players in the Premiership. Ben Foden has got the (England fullback) shirt, and Mike Brown is playing well at Harlequins," Bath rugby director Sir Ian McGeechan said. "If Nick keeps playing like that, they have got to be in the equation because these fellows can change games.
"If you have that sort of player knocking on the door for an international jersey, your international set-up is in pretty good shape. I thought the attitude of the players right through the 80 minutes was spot-on. We put a good game together.
"We had done it for spells in games, but not for 80 minutes. We kept control of the game today, and the result was in our hands going into the last 20 minutes. That makes a big difference. The scrum was outstanding, but people like Nathan Catt and Anthony Perenise are also natural ball-carriers. It wasn't ever going to be a really quick game because of the conditions, but we had eight forwards comfortable in ball-carrying positions."
Asked if he had felt under pressure from Bath's millionaire chairman Bruce Craig during the run of league defeats, McGeechan added: "We [coaches and players] are more critical of ourselves than Bruce is. We've got a good environment, and he knows there are a lot of things right."
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