FAN’S VIEW: To kick or not to kick – is that the question?
Bath Rugby supporter Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at The Rec...
Last season there were many groans from the home support as Bath routinely kicked away possession without gaining any perceivable advantage far too often for their own good.
On Friday night the increasing incidence of grumbling from the stands betrayed the fact that some dissatisfaction with our kicking game is beginning to return to The Rec.
Bath struggled at times to outwit the well-marshalled Northampton defence and resorted – perhaps too readily – to put boot to ball in what was at times a less than effective manner.
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The employment of a well-drilled kicking game is now part and parcel of every successful team's tactical approach allied, of course, to an appreciation of timely application and skilful precision in execution.
Gone are the days when Stuart Barnes could run the ball at every conceivable – and inconceivable - opportunity with reckless disregard to the territorial situation.
Rob Andrew, by comparison, might have been better regarded these days for preferring his feet to his hands so often, given the vastly-improved defensive capabilities of most professional sides.
To really pressurise the opposition, kicks to touch need to gain sufficient yardage to turn their forwards around, and punts downfield need to either turn the back three or give our own chasers a chance to challenge the catcher.
Against Northampton, the out-of-hand kicking was not good enough often enough.
Gary Gold's men clearly also found it very hard – particularly in the first half - to come to terms with the infuriatingly inconsistent officiating of Mr Small.
Whether a rugby referee at any level is actually performing to the expected standards or not, there is never - nor should there be – anything to be gained by repeatedly challenging his decisions or interpretations of the laws.
The players all know that, of course; but such indiscipline, however understandable to the equally frustrated watching supporter, inevitably proves to be unacceptably expensive – and Stephen Myler certainly made us pay.
We might have thought that this particular referee owed us something after last season's inept horror-show at Wasps, where two unfairly disallowed scores could ultimately have cost us Heineken Cup qualification.
Such 'debts' rarely, if ever, get repaid though, and the truth is that Bath's mouths will have to stay firmly shut the next time Mr Small appears with a whistle in his.