Burns’ big blun­der sinks Bath

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Bath full­back Fred­die Burns has apol­o­gised on Twit­ter fol­low­ing his mon­u­men­tal mis­take which cost his team vic­tory in their home Cham­pi­ons Cup match against Toulouse.

The 28-year-old former Eng­land in­ter­na­tional was left wish­ing the Re­cre­ation Ground could swal­low him up fol­low­ing his side’s 22-20 de­feat yes­ter­day, af­ter two big er­rors late in the piece.

Trail­ing by two in their open­ing Euro­pean game of the sea­son, Bath had a penalty in front of the posts with seven min­utes re­main­ing, which Burns duly smacked into an up­right.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, much worse was to come, when two min­utes later he looked to have made up for his er­ror by glid­ing over the try­line, only for his pre-touch­down cel­e­brat­ing to bite him in the back­side when the hand of Toulouse winger Maxime Medard knocked the ball from his grasp as he went to ground it one­handed.

With a stunned home crowd not know­ing what hit them, Toulouse, who had former All Black Jerome Kaino sin­binned just be­fore half­time for an il­le­gal tackle, duly went on to record the vic­tory.

Bath’s di­rec­tor of rugby – Kiwi Todd Black­ad­der – re­placed Burns shortly af­ter his botched try, and later said his play­maker was ‘‘a lit­tle bit’’ men­tally shot.

‘‘It’s just an hon­est mis­take, and he will never do it again,’’ Black­ad­der said. ‘‘It’s about what you do next. But Fred­die is pretty tough and pretty re­silient.’’

Cap­tain Rhys Pri­est­land tried to spread the blame post-game, but blasted his team-mates for even think­ing they could cel­e­brate tries early.

‘‘We’ve got far big­ger is­sues than Fred­die drop­ping the ball or miss­ing that kick,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s some­thing for us to talk about, cel­e­brat­ing be­fore scor­ing tries. Fred­die hasn’t cost us the game. We weren’t good enough.

‘‘But, as a squad, I can’t be­lieve we do cel­e­brate be­fore we put the ball down. It’s not the first time. I hon­estly don’t know what boys think they’re go­ing to achieve by do­ing it. For me, that’s non-ne­go­tiable. We can’t do it again.’’

A cou­ple of hours af­ter the game, Burns – who played five tests be­tween 2012 and 2014 – took to Twit­ter to ex­press an apol­ogy.

Mean­while, there were mixed for­tunes for the other Kiwi coaches in the day’s four other matches.

Vern Cot­ter’s Mont­pel­lier went score­less in the sec­ond half but held on at home to beat Ed­in­burgh 21-15, where former Auck­land and Blues first five-eighth Si­mon Hickey was kick­ing goals for the vis­i­tors.

Wayne Pi­vac’s Scar­lets had former Cru­saders winger Johnny Mcni­choll score one of the team’s two tries, but the hosts were pipped 14-13 by Rac­ing 92 thanks to a late penalty try.

The other games saw Ul­ster win 24-10 at home to Le­ices­ter, while Mun­ster drew 10-10 away to Ex­eter.

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