Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper believes his side have put their dismal European campaign behind them after an emphatic 38-10 victory over London Irish.
The west country side were out of sight by half-time at the Madejski Stadium, scoring five tries before the break courtesy of Beno Obano, Will Chudley, Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni and a penalty try.
The manner of the victory was the perfect tonic to a poor Champions Cup challenge, where Bath have lost all four of their games so far in Pool Four and are already eliminated with two rounds to go.
“There’s been lots of discussion externally and internally, but the lads have been absolutely spot on,” said Hooper.
“There’s a huge amount of belief among this group about what we’re doing and where we are going.
“We always knew there was going to be some serious challenges over the last month, and today was no different. It was great to see the lads go out then and deliver, and it’s all come off the back of some really hard work.
“The Champions Cup group was always going to be tricky for us, but we can now focus on the Premiership.
“We’ll turn around the learning from today before tomorrow morning, and the preparation for Sale will start as soon as the guys come in in the morning for their recovery.”
“He (Watson) got a slight niggle towards the end, but we’ve managed him carefully and he’s also looked after himself the right way,” he added.
What an incredible highlight reel this is on the Welsh youngster.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 22, 2019
“With regards to Sam, again we took him off because of a slight knock but he’s absolutely fine and he’ll be OK for next weekend.”
In contrast, London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney warned his side they need to sharpen up or they could be quickly sucked into a relegation battle.
Irish have won two of their six Premiership matches since returning to the top flight but Kidney admits they were taught a harsh lesson after starting slowly.
“If you don’t start right in games like this – we knew they’d be raring to go with the tough start they’d had – you make it very difficult on yourselves,” said Kidney, whose team scored a consolation try through Adam Coleman.
“The first half just wasn’t us, and they won pretty much every collision. It’s easy to write this off as ‘one of those days’ but there’s things that happened today that were in our control and if we don’t fix them, ‘this kind of day’ will happen again.
“We have ground to make up now, but because of the way the season has been truncated so far, it only feels like the league is beginning now.”
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