Aviva Premiership Round 18 – Bath Rugby vs Newcastle Falcons

Bath vs Newcastle Falcons – 18th March 2016

The Rec

Bath (12) 21

Tries: Rokoduguni 2 Con: Homer Pens: Homer 3

Newcastle (7) 19

Tries: Vickers Cons: Delany Pens: Delany 4

Each game in the Premiership should have the ability to excite the fans in the stands or at home for two reasons. Firstly the game itself should be a spectacle of skill and style, passion and commitment to win each battle and help you’re team towards victory. Secondly its intrigue and impact on the league standings and the race for playoff places and European rugby for the next year.

This game had glimpses of the former and none of the latter.

For Bath, Newcastle (and Worcester) their impact on the league will only come in the form of the upsets they cause on the teams above them, hampering those still playing for something. And they need not worry about what’s below them. London Irish’s inability to gain even a bonus point last week leaves them separated from the rest of the league by a league. Yes, there are still an enormous amount of points still available and mathematically there could catch this group of 3 above them.

But they won’t.

Bath and Newcastle have their Premiership status secured for another year, though not by their own labours. So for both Bath and Newcastle this game could have been the first steps in their journey to next year, a chance to identify an identity to strive towards that would progress their team beyond the current season. A chance to get into the market place first and tout what they need, as well as looking hard at the squads they have and seeing what they don’t.

Instead it was an average run of the mill game, played safe and boring by two clubs that are still focused on this season, lacking the vision to look ahead to the next. Semesa Rokoduguni delightful blend of ballerina and bulldozer twice brought the crowd to their feet as he crossed the line to give Bath a deserved 12-7 lead at halftime and something for the home fans to get excited about.

However Baths constant infringement, sometimes forces by strong Newcastle carrying, handed Mike Delany four converted penalties and the lead. Newcastle’s numerical advantage with Bath having two men in the sin bin should have effectively meant game over. Instead Scott Lawson was lazy and reckless, getting himself sin binned and handing Tom Homer and Bath a straightforward kick for the lead in the dying minutes.

The climax to the game was an exciting one as Newcastle marched downfield to try and win it at the death. However this was excitement caused incompetence. Newcastle got themselves down field, twice, roughly to where they wanted to find themselves. Roughly. On three occasions in the final moments Newcastle weren’t able to get into the exact location Delany needed to successfully kick what would have been a winning drop-goal. Missed, charged down and missed again, this inability to be accurate in set up and execution ultimately cost Newcastle Falcons.

And although Bath won the game, with a palpable relief around the Rec, it was due in major part to the Falcons inability to win it, not their own ability to close out the game. Regardless of the result the facts remain, this season is over for both these teams and their focus should shift from the games directly in front of them to the seasons beyond if they want to make an impact on the Premiership and a create a path into Europe.

Main Photo