FAN'S VIEW: Little Christmas cheer- or mutual support - for committed followers at The Rec
Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at Bath Rugby...
After the mildly exotic adventures and less-familiar competition provided by back-to-back fixtures against Italian side Calvisano in the Amlin Challenge Cup, it was back to the reality of Premiership rugby last weekend.
And back to reality it certainly was, as Bath landed with a very heavy bump on their return to league action against Saracens.
The 22-0 drubbing represented a considerable setback in what had been the slowly-developing conviction that Gary Gold’s plans were starting to bear fruit and that Bath were capable of competing with – and beating – the teams at the top end of the table.
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The deserved home victory against Harlequins and the combative narrow defeat at Welford Road – despite being outnumbered by Leicester for long periods – had promised an upturn in fortunes as the season progressed into the New Year.
But Saracens exploited ground and weather conditions well-suited to their style of play, which – despite recent exhibitions of rather more flair than usual – is still based firmly around a gameplan of limited ambition which they regularly execute with skill and commitment.
Their defence was quite outstanding and, matched with their considerable nous and a generally ineffective referee, left the match points already secure in their kitbags at half-time with the score at 16-0.
Charlie Hodgson orchestrated his side superbly and showed exactly what he is capable of behind a powerful pack. Even if his England days are now over, he could still offer Warren Gatland and the Lions an option to Jonny Sexton in Australia.
Why Bath were so outplayed on the day remains a mystery. Saracens were clinically-effective but only did what was necessary to build and then keep a winning lead.
Bath’s inability to break the visitors’ stranglehold suggested a deeper malaise than just their opponents and the difficult playing conditions. Something apparently intangible appeared to be lacking.
I am not privy to anything that transpires in the dressing room or on the Farleigh training pitches but the uncertainty surrounding the future of coach Brad Davis and the mindset of those players whose retention or release is either still undecided or already known to them could perhaps have played a part.
At half-time, with the match already seemingly decided, as chairman of BRSC I was also left despairing that the draw for two hospitality prizes, kindly donated by Bath Rugby, was conducted by the man with the microphone without any mention at all of the Supporters’ Club.
The lucky winners were Ben Hammett (3161) and Arnold Snowball (5034) but the whole point of the exercise had been an incentive for Bath fans to join or renew their Supporters’ Club membership and to generate some worthwhile publicity for our continuing efforts to support the team at home and abroad.
On top of the bitterly disappointing failure of even a single injured player to join us for our quiz night two weeks ago, I do wonder why we bother to do more than just use our season tickets at The Rec – which on Saturday was reason enough for despair.
After all, the somewhat tortuous diverted journeys to follow the team to Calvisano by some of our members – via Milan, Venice and even Turin in some cases – better illustrate what support is all about.
We will no doubt continue to offer that support – and hope for better in return.