Boost for Wales as Fale­tau impresses on Bath come­back

Bristol Post - - SPORT -

BATH di­rec­tor of rugby Todd Black­ad­der reck­ons Taulupe Fale­tau is al­ready in good shape to take his place in the Wales squad for the Six Na­tions Cham­pi­onship.

The British and Ir­ish Lion has been out for 13 weeks, re­cov­er­ing from a bro­ken arm, but made an in­stant im­pact on his come­back in the 18-16 Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup win over Wasps at the Recre­ation Ground on Satur­day.

After Fale­tau made a stun­ning break from his own half to cre­ate Bath’s first try, Black­ad­der said: “He looked great, didn’t he? Re­ally sharp. If only we could have given him more ball.

“I have to give a big pat on the back to our strength and con­di­tion­ing staff, for the work they do be­hind the scenes in get­ting the guys ready.

“Be­fore the game, he (Fale­tau) was re­ally, re­ally ner­vous. But it’s good to see those nerves from an ex­pe­ri­enced guy like him.”

Asked if Fale­tau would be ready for Wales’ Six Na­tions cam­paign, Black­ad­der said: “Yes, I think so. They know he’s a class player. He looks spot-on now.

“He’s been train­ing as he al­ways does. He just grows an­other arm and a leg when he gets out there on the field!”

Black­ad­der is also hop­ing to in­clude Jonathan Joseph in his squad for the fi­nal Pool One match away to Toulouse next week­end. The Eng­land cen­tre has been out for nine months after an­kle surgery but was in­volved in Bath’s warm-up drills on Satur­day.

“He trained re­ally well this week and is look­ing very sharp. If he can get through some ‘big load’ days in train­ing next week, he could be good to go.”

Wasps’ di­rec­tor of rugby Dai Young re­fused to fo­cus on a 79th-minute penalty at a scrum in analysing his side’s nar­row de­feat, one that al­most cer­tainly con­signs them to bot­tom place in Pool One, even be­fore the fi­nal matches.

For Young it wasn’t just the end­ing that was dis­ap­point­ing.

“Win­ning would have been a big shot in the arm but would it have made the per­for­mance look a whole lot bet­ter? No, it wouldn’t have,” he said.

“There were ar­eas that were dis­ap­point­ing. With the ball, we didn’t look that threat­en­ing. We didn’t look like cre­at­ing much or caus­ing them prob­lems.

“We had ball, we had pos­ses­sion, we had ter­ri­tory. But we didn’t pos­sess that cut­ting edge to turn that pres­sure into points. And on the flip side there were two pretty poor tries which were down to sim­ple missed, first-up tack­les, which is pretty hard to leg­is­late against.

“There were parts of the game where we were prob­a­bly on top but didn’t have con­trol. We tried to push passes which weren’t re­ally ‘on’.”

Fred­die Burns scores Bath’s first try in the win against Wasps at the Recre­ation Ground

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