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Bath will blot out external criticism after Harlequins defeat - Stuart Hooper

By PA

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Stuart Hooper admitted Bath would be blotting out external criticism after Saturday’s 31-17 defeat at Harlequins condemned the club to their worst start to a Premiership campaign.

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It was Bath’s fifth straight defeat this season and they have lost 10 of their last 11 league matches, but after the previous Sunday’s 71-point capitulation at home to Saracens, they pushed the champions all the way at the Stoop before succumbing in the closing minutes.

“We understand what we need to do next weekend against Wasps,” said Bath director of rugby Hooper, whose side led 17-12 at half-time after scoring two tries, while England prop Joe Marler was in the sin-bin for a no-arms tackle.

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Chris Robshaw on Marcus Smith
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Chris Robshaw on Marcus Smith

“We have our backs against the wall and need to move forward.

“One of the great things about sport is that people have opinions, but we know where we are headed and the steps we need to take.

“We got back to a level we expect of ourselves physically today, but we gave away too many penalties in the second half and could not get out of our own half.”

Quins crossed over through Andre Esterhuizen (2), Marcus Smith and Joe Marchant (2), with Smith successful with three conversions, while Sam Underhill and Will Stuart replied with tries for the visitors as Orlando Bailey added the extras.

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Bath captain Charlie Ewels said it was up to the senior players to show the younger ones the way on Saturday when they face opponents who have won on five of their last six visits to the Recreation Ground.

“Players are putting their bodies on the line as you saw against Harlequins when Tom De Glanville, Joe Simpson and Beno Obano all played on despite suffering injuries that meant they had to come off,” he said. “Confidence is the thing.

“We are not happy to be stuck in a losing rut, but I hope people are seeing the desire and the fight in the side.

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“Confidence was the difference today: one side had it, the other did not.

“The experienced guys have been in this position before and we know that you get back on track by doubling down and blotting out the noise from outside.

“The young guys bring energy and we older ones need to steer the ship.”

Harlequins moved to second in the table with their ninth-successive home bonus-point victory, but they will lose key players Smith, Alex Dombrandt and Marchant while they are away on England duty, along with Marler.

“I do not know the opportunities they will get, but I wish them well,” said Quins head coach Tabai Matson.

“Good players like Marcus keep their powder dry until something arises and not many forwards can do what Alex does, although the international game is another level.”

Matson hopes Marler will not be cited for a no-arms tackle on Tom De Glanville.

The prop was sent to the sin-bin and the Bath full-back limped off with a knee injury after trying to play on.

“Whenever someone lands on their shoulder, it has to be looked at, but there were mitigating factors,” said Matson.

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Bath will blot out external criticism after Harlequins defeat - Stuart Hooper

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