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Ben Spencer explains 'what this Bath group has done really well'

By PA
Bath's Ben Spencer celebrates beating Sale last Saturday (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

It says everything about the Bath trophy drought that captain Ben Spencer has won six more major titles than his club during the past 17 years.

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Last crowned league winners in 1995/96, Bath have not lifted silverware since the 2008 European Challenge Cup final victory over Worcester when current England head coach Steve Borthwick was skipper, and his teammates included the likes of Danny Grewcock and Olly Barkley.

Across the same period, Spencer helped Saracens land four Premiership titles and win three Champions Cup finals before moving to Bath in 2020.

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But England scrum-half Spencer will now lead Bath out at Twickenham on Saturday with every chance of the club securing a Gallagher Premiership crown after losing on previous visits to English rugby headquarters in 2015 and 2004.

Spencer has proved a pivotal figure this season in terms of the sleeping giants’ awakening. His half-back partnership with Scotland star Finn Russell will be to the fore against a Northampton side they finished level on points with at the Premiership summit.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Northampton
25 - 21
Full-time
Bath
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“(Bath head of rugby) Johann (van Graan) speaks about moments in time, and you have got to embrace them – be in the moment and love it,” Spencer said in the wake of Bath’s semi-final victory over Sale.

“This club has had some dark days since I have been here, so from where we have come from to where we are now is a huge step forward.

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“I talk about those times, and we sold The Rec out when we were bottom of the league. These fans are like nothing I have ever seen before. They keep turning up week in, week out.

“There is a lot of growth in this team. What this group has done really well is their eagerness to get better. This team has worked tirelessly to get better. Johann has brought a massive amount of belief to this squad.”

Bath beat Northampton 43-12 in the league just over a fortnight ago, although Saints are likely to field just two players who started that day – centre Burger Odendaal and wing Ollie Sleightholme – this weekend.

“It [the final] is about trying to get your game onto the pitch and not trying to reinvent the wheel in terms of coming up with a new game plan,” Spencer added.

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“We played Saints a couple of weeks ago, so it is fairly fresh in our minds in terms of how they play the game. They have a great defence and are a great attacking team, so it should be one hell of a final.”

Russell, inevitably, will be the centre of attention for Bath supporters and potentially Northampton’s defence, given his consistent match-winning influence.

Since arriving in the west country from French club Racing 92, he has proved an imperious playmaker, often delving into his sizeable box of tricks, while also proving a master tactician and goalkicker.

“He is an unbelievable rugby player,” Spencer said. “There is a calmness about him, a class about him that just oozes throughout the team, and he gives boys so much confidence and allows them to be themselves.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Finn. What he has added to this group this season has been unbelievable. You probably watch Finn’s highlights reel, and you see the crossfield kicks and the big, long passes, but underneath all that is a really strong defensive game as well.

“Some of the tackles and hits he has put in this season have been back row-esque. He reads the game so well.”

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1 Comment
E
Ed the Duck 14 days ago

More than a few English pundits and England fans eating humble pie over FR these days…

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