Black­ad­der: Fight­back should breed new be­lief

Bath Chronicle - - SPORT - Daniel Evans Head of Sport @daniel­e­vans28 | 01225 322300 daniel.evans@reach­plc.com

Todd Black­ad­der hopes Bath Rugby’s come­back against Glouces­ter will pro­vide the self be­lief needed to pull out some big per­for­mances from the first whis­tle. His side were 21-0 down in the first half but led 31-24 with two min­utes to go, only for Matt Bana­han to score what was the equal­is­ing try once Billy Twel­ve­trees had con­verted it. The Blue, Black and Whites’ de­fence was por­ous early on and, al­though they had plenty of ball to at­tack with, they didn’t cause the Cherry and Whites many big prob­lems. But with a Tom Dunn brace and an El­liott Stooke try af­ter the break, plus flaw­less place-kick­ing by Fred­die Burns and re­place­ment Rhys Pri­est­land, Bath came out of the match with three league points, as did their West Coun­try ri­vals. Tak­ing the pos­i­tives out of the first Premier­ship game at the Rec this sea­son, di­rec­tor of rugby Black­ad­der said: “From 21 points down it was a fan­tas­tic char­ac­ter test for our play­ers. “They had to dig deep to come back and put our­selves in a po­si­tion to win it. I’m re­ally proud of them. “I think we’ve got a a great op­por­tu­nity to build from that. We’re def­i­nitely on the right track. “We know that wasn’t the com­plete per­for­mance but a hell of a lot of self be­lief came out of that.” Try­ing to fathom how they were 21-0 down in the first place, the di­rec­tor of rugby added: “We had the ball but we weren’t run­ning onto it, we were hold­ing off in our [ruck] cleans and kicked a lot of ball away. “When we stopped giv­ing the ball away and did the sim­ple things re­ally well it just showed that when we get on the front foot we can foot it with any­one and Glouces­ter are a qual­ity side. “You can al­ways come back if the mind­set is right and the be­lief is there, and that came from that group of men.” Black­ad­der saw the funny side of the fire in a lit­ter-pick­ing truck just be­fore half-time. It didn’t af­fect the re­sump­tion of the game as the fire brigade dealt with the blaze. “We ac­tu­ally needed a bit of a spark and we were on fire there for a while,” he joked. “We just need a bit more of that at the start.” In the fi­nal shake-up, Black­ad­der thought the draw was a fair re­sult. Bath came out af­ter half-time with more ag­gres­sion and ur­gency than they had at­tacked with in the first 40. “There was no rol­lick­ing at half time,” Black­ad­der said. “We were fo­cus­ing on what we needed to do to get our­selves back in the game and all the things we could con­trol. “The boys went out there and did that. They car­ried hard, cleaned some rucks and got our­selves back in the game.” De­spite Bath fail­ing to win the restart when they were seven points up with two min­utes to go, the di­rec­tor of rugby wasn’t too up­set with that. It was taken by 6ft 7ins Matt Bana­han, do­ing what he had done many times for Bath over the years, as he re­turned to face his for­mer club. “It was re­ally good skill from Matt Bana­han,” his old boss said. “We’d ac­tu­ally pre­pared for it, but it’s just one of those things that hap­pens.” Black­ad­der was im­pressed with the per­for­mance of 22-year-old scrum-half Max Green in his first Premier­ship start and de­lighted Sam Un­der­hill was able to show his power, speed and skill for 80 min­utes af­ter a frus­trat­ing, in­jury-hit first sea­son at the club. “The for­wards clean­ing out a bit more ac­cu­rately in the sec­ond half gave Max the plat­form to play,” Black­ad­der said. “I thought he was man of the match and did a fan­tas­tic job for a young man. “Sam was on the ball all day. It was good to see him get re­warded late in the game.”

PIC­TURES: Stu Forster & Harry Trump/getty Im­ages

Joe Cokanasiga let’s a cross-field kick slip from his graps ag­o­nis­ingly just short of the try­line

Danny Cipri­ani can­not stop Tom Dunn charg­ing to­wards the line

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