Bath 17 Northampton Saints 15: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Dan Biggar saw his late conversion attempt hit the post (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dan Biggar saw his late conversion attempt hit the post (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

If Saints took a step forward against Saracens last weekend, they took two back against Bath yesterday.

In horrible conditions, it was a horrible performance from both teams as they slugged it out at the rain-soaked Rec.

Ahsee Tuala did not have an easy day at full-back

Ahsee Tuala did not have an easy day at full-back

Bath were no better than Saints.

In fact, for long periods, they were worse.

But with the away side's scrum and lineout simply not functioning at any point, Bath took advantage to earn a 17-7 lead.

Saints showed the kind of character they had displayed in the opening three games under new boss Chris Boyd, fighting until the end to give themselves hope of earning a draw.

Piers Francis put himself about

Piers Francis put himself about

But after Tom Collins had scored from the final play of the game, Dan Biggar's difficult touchline conversion drifted towards the right post, rebounding to safety.

Bath breathed a sigh of relief as they celebrated picking up four points that neither team really merited.

And for Saints it was yet another game that slipped from their grasp.

Against Gloucester, they could easily have secured a late losing bonus point and against Saracens they could easily have secured at least two points, or even a win.

Taqele Naiyaravoro was not able to have a say

Taqele Naiyaravoro was not able to have a say

But in those matches and this, Saints squandered good positions.

And in a league that is more competitive than ever, they simply can't afford to be left with so many regrets when the final whistle sounds.

They did get over the line against Harlequins, holding out late on to defeat Paul Gustard's men at Franklin's Gardens.

But that is the only win they have recorded so far this season, with a downbeat Boyd saying his side's start is 'not good enough'.

He will expect much better at Bristol next Saturday in a game that looks hugely important ahead of the following week's Twickenham tussle with Leicester Tigers.

But there is no need to get carried away just yet, with the current league standings nothing more than an early form table.

Saints have not found the form or points they want, even though their performances have largely been decent.

At Bath, there was barely anything to shout about though, and Boyd's men must bounce back quickly, retaining belief in the new system that is being implemented.

There is quality in this group, but at Bath none of that really showed.

Some of the game management was poor and the less said about the set piece the better.

Saints had a faultless lineout prior to the trip to the west country, using that to torment teams through pre-season and the opening three matches of the Premiership campaign.

But their strength turned into their weakness, and it hurt them badly, robbing them of a platform from which to launch attacks.

They did still dominate possession and territory in the first period, but they were hit with a Freddie Burns sucker punch after a careless Cobus Reinach pass.

And from there, the momentum was lost until late on, when Saints showed their teeth and finally put a move together for Collins to race in and score.

Boyd was right to expect better than what he saw between Reinach's try and that Collins effort.

And he will demand a big improvement against Bristol.

Saints really need to kick-start their season at Ashton Gate and banish memories of this day at Bath as quickly as possible.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA

The slippery conditions didn't help his slick attacking game and the Samoan didn't really come to life... 5

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

Wasn't really able to make an impact and was one of many players guilty of failing to find his man with the odd pass... 5

ANDY SYMONS

Only managed to play for 40 minutes as he suffered a knee injury during the first half, but he had looked strong prior to that... 6

PIERS FRANCIS

One of Saints' better performers, the centre played a part in Reinach's try and he never shirked the physical battle... 6

TOM COLLINS

Took his chance late on and was always looking for an opening as he tried to trouble the Bath defence... 6

DAN BIGGAR

Was unfortunate to miss the late conversion, but he had kicked well up to then and did show flashes of his class once again... 6

COBUS REINACH

Went from hero to zero as he scored and then handed Bath a crucial try in the first half. Did some good things but his passing was not always secure and some of his box kicks were not the best... 5

ALEX WALLER

Made plenty of tackles, looking strong around the park, but it was not an easy day in the set piece... 5

DYLAN HARTLEY

The lineout was obviously not all the hooker's fault, but he will have been disappointed with how it went on a difficult day for Saints as a whole... 4

BEN FRANKS

A really tough day in the scrum for the Kiwi as Bath took Saints on up front and got the better of them... 4

DAVID RIBBANS

Has been one of Saints' stand-out players at the start of the season, calling the lineout well, but it didn't work on this occasion... 5

COURTNEY LAWES

Didn't have the kind of influence he usually has on games, but it wasn't for the lack of trying... 6

JAMIE GIBSON

Tried to get involved at every opportunity, popping up on the wing on a couple of occasions and scrapping for everything... 6

LEWIS LUDLAM

Was unfortunate to give away one penalty during the first half, but overall this was a positive performance from the young flanker... 6

TEIMANA HARRISON

Made a few good carries as he tried to step up the intensity but it wasn't an easy afternoon and he did give away one key penalty... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ANDREW KELLAWAY (for Symons 40)

Not an easy introduction to life in England as the centre had to try to adjust to horrible conditions on his debut and was tested defensively... 5

EHREN PAINTER (for Franks 50)

Helped Saints to steady their scrum slightly and also made a few tackles, missing none, in a decent enough cameo... 6

HARRY MALLINDER (for Naiyaravoro 56)

Helped Saints to step things up in terms of creativity late on, but they couldn't salvage the game late on... 6

CHRON STAR MAN - Nathan Catt (Bath)