Bath boss Ford feels referee was ‘guessing’ in Saints clash

Mike Ford was not a happy man after Bath's defeat to Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Mike Ford was not a happy man after Bath's defeat to Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Mike Ford launched a verbal attack on the refereeing of scrums after Saints beat his Bath side at The Rec.

The Bath director of rugby was frustrated after the west country outfit suffered a 13-11 defeat, which was inspired by Saints’ forward power.

Jim Mallinder’s men won a succession of scrum penalties, just as they had done in their three consecutive wins leading into the game at The Rec.

And Ford was hugely frustrated as JJ Hanrahan’s composed long-range penalty, which was awarded by Craig Maxwell-Keys after a scrum, sealed a vital victory for Saints.

“You can’t control the scrum,” Ford told BT Sport.

“Two weeks ago, we played Leinster here and destroyed four international props.

“The week after, it was 50/50 in the scrum and on this occasion we were on the wrong end of it.

“The game is too much under the influence of the referee.

“We defend really well, they knock it on in midfield, it’s a scrum and they get the penalty from it.

“Then, the last six, seven, eight minutes of the game is just scrums, resetting scrums.

“They’re slowing it down and that’s not what people want to watch.

“We want the ball in play, we want to play rugby and too much influence is on referees guessing at scrum time.”

Saints director of rugby Mallinder disagreed with Ford’s assessment of refereeing.

He said: “I don’t (think they do guess).

“Sometimes they might do, but on this occasion I don’t think he (Maxwell-Keys) was guessing.

“I thought we were the dominant side and we deserved the penalty decisions.”

Bath have now failed to beat Saints in their past nine league meetings, with the west country side’s last win in the fixture coming in February 2011.

And Ford added: “We’re disappointed we’ve lost to a very experienced Northampton side.

“They seem to have the wood over us at the moment and they’ve come away with another close victory.

“We’re disappointed. We’re not playing as well as we can, we know that.

“This was about winning and we haven’t done that, so we’re massively disappointed.”