Defeated at the death, this weekend’s Gallagher Premiership fixture at Sixways will be remembered as much for the excitement of a 100-minute match, as it will be when an 11-man Bath rugby team were defeated by the Worcester Warriors, 21-19.
With so many points of interest, the news of the Bath rugby team’s demise both stunned and alarmed their fan base. Leading 3-19 at the break, it will go down as one of the clubs most disastrous second halves ever. Not only was the team having to survive; after Ross Batty was walked from the field in the 64th minute. But the side appeared to lose their self-control, and in the end, with three further players sent to the bin, and a determined Worcester team bombarded the downcast Bath Line. Resulting in more ill-disciplined home side inflicting a heartbreaking defeat for Bath.
The finale at Sixways today was truly EPIC! 😱
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 5, 2019
The drama-filled second half lasted nearly 60 minutes. This included referee’s time added on, delays for the high number of penalties, and in the delaying tactics the home side attempted. It tended to backfire, with unheralded decisions made by match official Ian Tempest. He would duly find the replacement Bath front row at fault, sending the two substitute props to the Sin Bin. All this was after hooker Ross Batty was red carded after coming off the bench.
It all became too much, when the packed Warriors side heaved all their weight against a defending Bath team. With the match balanced. Bryce Heem scored the try, with a conversion meaning Bath would leave the match with a single point….but aggrieved and wondering how they got themselves into this mess.
Head coach Todd Blackadder lamented post-match, “when you put yourself in a position to get a red with 20 minutes to go it’s always going to put the team under pressure.
“Then the team put itself under more and more pressure by giving penalties away.”
Record of ill-discipline a title Bath Rugby wish not to hold
If anything can be found in a game ended with only 11 players defending their line, it is that the relationship with the referee was tested. The balance of asking for your side to play hard, yet to play fair, has been one played out for many, many years.
But at Sixways, did the Bath rugby team push the limit? What caused four men to be sent from the field? One to a red card, and three to the Sin Bin – all as the visiting team saw a huge lead dwindle, to end in defeat.
Do Bath rugby now hold the unwanted record? In Premiership rugby, No. Well, Yes (but not in this match). That unenviable record also involves Bath rugby when they visited Gloucester in 2014. On that dreadful day, a total of seven yellow cards, and two Red Cards were issued, in a bad-tempered game that will live in infamy.
I think there was a Gloucester v Bath match at Kingsholm about 5 years ago where Gloucester finished with 11
— Angus Bujalski (@AngusBujalski) January 5, 2019
Knowing that Bath have ‘form’ could rugby fans take from that news, that Bath are a dirty team? Hardly form, but a history that means Blackadder and the board must act quickly to remove any shadow over the team’s 2018/19 Premiership hopes.
Still, the publicity and bad press will hang over the team for the short term. The spotlight on the legitimacy of the neck roll tackle will identify Batty’s actions as poor technique. So at training, the side have to look hard at themselves. Blackadder confirmed that self-analysis when he said “It will be fascinating to go back, have a look at it all and try to work out what the hell happened.
“At 19-3 in front in a commanding, dominant position, to being penalised off the park and down to 11 men at the end. I can understand some of them [penalties], but some of them will be very interesting to go back and have a look at”.
The side must step-up quickly, as they invite the Newcastle Falcons to the Rec. If Bath can take advantage of the Falcons poor recent form, then they might just resurrect their season….as much as, repair their character with fans [and with match officials].
“Main photo credit”
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