Burns de­served his red says Black­ad­der

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By TOM BRAD­SHAW

TODD Black­ad­der says Bath have “no com­plaints” af­ter Fred­die Burns was red-carded for a tip-tackle on his full de­but for his home­town club.

Bath played the fi­nal 16 min­utes with 14 men fol­low­ing the fly-half ’s reck­less chal­lenge on Josh Adams, which prompted Burns to im­me­di­ately head to the touch­line be­fore ref­eree Luke Pearce bran­dished red.

But Bath hung on for a bonus-point win de­spite Burns’ ab­sence, thanks to a brace from wing Aled Brew and tries from Ben Ta­puai and Jonathan Joseph.

“It was a def­i­nite red card, there are no ex­cuses or com­plaints from us,” said di­rec­tor of rugby Black­ad­der. “Know­ing Fred­die, there was noth­ing in­ten­tional in that.”

Black­ad­der also con­firmed that Ben Ta­puai, who had been Bath’s at­tack­ing lynch­pin un­til he was stretchered off fol­low­ing ten min­utes of med­i­cal treat­ment, had not suf­fered a se­ri­ous in­jury.

“Ben is talk­ing, co­her­ent and seems to be ok, which is a re­ally good sign. I think he was knocked out. He got his head on the wrong side of a tackle.”

Worces­ter re­main rooted to the bot­tom of the Premier­ship, with the War­riors ex­tend­ing their away los­ing streak in the league to 16 games.

But there were bright spots for the visi­tors, not least the per­for­mance of Will Spencer, who car­ried tire­lessly against his for­mer club,

Jonathan Joseph – a per­sis­tent hand­ful in the first half – scored Bath’s open­ing try with a dart-and-step.

But Jamie Shill­cock quickly put Worces­ter on the board with a penalty, and when Dean Ham­mond came off his wing to score a de­li­cious first-phase try for the visi­tors, War­riors found them­selves a point up.

Ham­mond’s score served as a slap in the face for the hosts. Hav­ing stut­tered and splut­tered for much of the first half, Bath fi­nally fired into ac­tion. They dis­played ex­em­plary pa­tience in a multi-phase at­tack. Joseph and the stylish Zach Mercer were in­stru­men­tal in the build-up, and the pres­sure even­tu­ally told with Brew dot­ing down.

A canny Burns chip al­most put Ta­puai in the at the cor­ner, but a su­perb tackle by Shill­cock de­nied the Aus­tralian.

Worces­ter were seek­ing to change ends at just 12-8 down, but a mo­ment of bril­liance by Mercer took the match away from them. Shrug­ging off three tack­les and dis­play­ing the feet of a ball­room dancer, Mercer drew the fi­nal line of de­fence and popped the ball to Ta­puai on his left shoul­der. Burns con­verted.

Worces­ter began the sec­ond pe­riod at some lick, and Shill­cock cap­i­talised on some en­ter­pris­ing han­dling to touch­down and re­duce the deficit to six points. How­ever, Bath re­stored some breath­ing space when Brew latched onto Burns’ pin­point-ac­cu­rate cut-out pass to grab his sec­ond.

Bath looked com­fort­able but then came Burns’ send­ing off and Ta­puai’s in­jury. Worces­ter couldn’t make the ad­van­tage tell, how­ever, and when re­place­ment fly­half Josh Lewis kicked a late penalty for the home side mat­ters were sealed.

With Burns fac­ing a ban and Rhys Pri­est­land out with a knee in­jury, it looks as though sum­mer sign­ing Lewis will start against Benet­ton in the Cham­pi­ons Cup on Satur­day.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Todd Black­ad­der con­firmed Bath are set to sign Bed­ford Blues’ James Wil­son, as re­ported in Blind­side last week.

“James has come in and trained with us this last week. At the mo­ment he’s un­avail­able (due to a three-week ban).

“He’s not signed a con­tract yet. Hope­fully it will be un­til the end of the sea­son but we've still got to work through those de­tails.

“I’d love him to be avail­able sooner but we’ve got one week be­fore we can do any­thing.” Threat: Bath try scorer Ben Ta­puai makes a break ahead of Dean Ham­mond

I’m go­ing: Fred­die Burns keeps walk­ing as the ref waves a red card

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