Whisper it, but Bath can spring a surprise against Leicester
To say that Leicester are there for the taking at Welford Road this weekend would be a statement as daft as it is misguided. But I'm going to make it anyway.
Okay, so maybe not "there for the taking"; after all, the Tigers never take things lying down. But as chances to beat Leicester on their own turf go, I suspect Bath will not have as good a chance as this for many years.
With a goodly chunk of their key personnel either away on international duty or carrying injuries, Leicester's starting XV will be quite different to the side director of rugby Richard Cockerill would field if he had the full ranks at his disposal.
In recent years at Welford Road, Bath have been dismantled – to a greater or lesser degree – at the set piece. If they can stand up to Leicester in that department, then I think they stand a decent chance of causing a surprise result.
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That is a big if, because against Harlequins on Friday night the Bath scrum was under a lot of pressure on occasion and escaped one scare on its own 5m by the skin of its teeth.
But the key point here is that the scrum did escape – and if that spirit of defiance can be taken to Leicester on Saturday, then just maybe the home forwards won't get it all their own way.
I'm confident that Bath will have some ball this weekend, because the Bath lineout was a joy to behold against Quins. Head coach Gary Gold has the benefit of being able to select from a full contingent of fit lock forwards at the moment, and Bath's strength in that position was highlighted against the champions by their superb strike-rate on their own throw.
Captain Stuart Hooper orchestrated matters superbly in conjunction with hooker Lee Mears, presenting half- backs Michael Claassens and Stephen Donald with the kind of service that just wasn't arriving last season.
I could pick on individual aspects of Bath's play that were impressive against Quins but the fundamental point is that the team played with an all-round cohesion and dedication that was truly impressive – a point graciously conceded by Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea, a man whose standards are set very high.
The qualities of team cohesion and dedication are, of course, synonymous with Leicester, but it could just be that Gold has imbued Bath with sufficient doses of those powerful attributes to make Saturday's game a riveting arm wrestle.
We can expect confidence to be high among the Bath camp after the Quins win.
To back that up with a win at Leicester would lift such confidence to stratospheric levels. It would be the mid-season equivalent of a play-off final victory.