Burns deserved his red says Blackadder
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.
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