FAN’S VIEW: Bath’s home comforts restored in combative West Country derby
Bath Rugby supporter Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at The Rec...
Gloucester’s excellent recent record at The Rec came to a timely end in last Friday’s Aviva Premiership contest, with Bath edging ahead 2-1 in this season’s meetings between the two fierce rivals after a close and thoroughly absorbing contest.
After many years of professional league rugby, during which they had never bested Bath away from Kingsholm, since Gloucester finally ended that hoodoo a few seasons ago they had enjoyed inflicting successive – and sometimes comprehensive – defeats upon their hosts.
The struggle for possession of the so-called bragging rights between the two sets of supporters may not yet have been finally determined for this season, however, as there is still the fascinating prospect of the two clubs contesting the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup in Dublin come mid-May.
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For the time being though it is those in blue, black and white who have most reason to feel slightly smug in terms of local superiority, but Gloucester’s losing bonus point might yet turn out to be important in terms of the end-of-season table.
The Cherry and Whites are still ahead of Bath in the race to secure Heineken Cup participation for 2013-14, let alone having a better outside chance at the moment of finishing in the top four through a strong finish from now until May.
Thoughts of a play-off spot may seem fanciful to some but there are still many points available to be won and so to discount Bath’s chances at this stage would be just as premature as making plans for a Twickenham appearance.
Perhaps a place in the top four will prove to be an improvement too far for Gary Gold’s existing squad after a below-par first half of the season in terms of expectations, but that should still be the goal from where we are now.
Realistically, fifth or sixth positions seem more attainable, but the ambition to achieve in sport is always crucial to ultimate success and settling for mediocrity inevitably delivers it.
Likewise, Bath must travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday without fear of failure against Harlequins if they are to exceed last season’s exploits in the LV= Cup and reach the final at Sixways the following weekend.
The severe disappointment of last year’s eclipse by Leicester – ironically and largely due to the smart boot of the young George Ford – came after Bath had marched boldly through the pool stage, winning all of their games by emphatic margins.
This season’s progress has been less certain so far, with other results being needed to ensure qualification for the knockout rounds, but if Conor O’Shea’s young Quins side can be overcome then the first of two possible cup final trips will be booked.