Bath 22 Northampton Saints 13: Tom Vickers' review

Frustrating was a description that didn't quite cover it after Saints lost at Bath on Saturday.

Sunday, 10th November 2019, 7:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 7:24 pm
David Ribbans and Co were left disappointed as they were beaten at Bath

Disappointing, yes.

Deflating, yes.

Infuriating, certainly.

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Tom Collins was in action for Saints

But no single word could sum up the final 32 minutes at The Rec.

Because Saints went from having the game in their grasp to letting it slip.

So often red cards change games, but rarely in favour of the side that is a man down.

However, that was what happened here.

Zach Mercer scored a crucial third try for Bath

Saints, from almost exclusively bossing territory for some time, and having plenty of possession, started to slide.

And they couldn't arrest it as they were ground into the rain-soaked turf by a brutal Bath pack.

The home fans were fired up by Aled Brew's dismissal for a forearm smash on George Furbank - and so were the home players.

It was reminiscent of the latter stages of a couple of games Saints played against Tigers a few years back.

On those occasions, Saints had men sent off and somehow found a way to win.

That was the same for Bath, who deserved immense credit for the way they fought, not only late on but throughout.

Because make no mistake, they had to soak up plenty of pressure, particularly during the first period, making huge hits and scrambling successfully.

On another day, the ball would have stuck for Saints and they would have scored many more than the two tries they garnered.

It was just the last passage of play that let them down on several occasions, continually fuelling that frustration.

That this often razor-sharp team only managed to add five points to their tally after the ninth minute was a surprise.

But perhaps it shouldn't have been, given how tough it has been for the black, green and gold to win at The Rec in recent years.

They have now lost each of their past five matches at Bath, who are good at executing their obvious game plan on home soil.

They did it against Exeter in their first home league match of this season, and they did it against Saints.

But there is no doubt that Chris Boyd, his fellow coaches and supporters have reasons to be positive at the end of this first Premiership block.

They are second in the table on points difference to Bristol, and have shown they can win in different ways.

Yes, they were eventually outmuscled at Bath, but that can't take away from the fact that their forward game has been improving in recent times.

And all in all, this has to be viewed as one of those days when things just didn't work.

Lessons can, of course, be learned, and they will need to be ahead of huge games to come at home and abroad.

For now though, Saints can put this bad day at Bath to bed and ensure they retain the belief they have been so impressively building.