Ben Spencer’s Bath debut may have been played in front of empty stands but he made just the impact that director of rugby Stuart Hooper hoped he would in the win over London Irish.
An early interception try marked the perfect start for the England scrum-half, with Bath running in four more tries on their way to a bonus-point 34-17 victory at the Recreation Ground.
And Hooper was more than satisfied with the performance given by Spencer, signed from Saracens earlier in the summer.
“He had a quality debut and showed what he brings to the game, especially the control and accuracy on his box kicks,” said Hooper.
“All those things, alongside the standards he demands from the guys around him. I thought they raised their game today around that.”
Hooper was just as pleased with the quality of ball his forwards gave Spencer, saying: “They delivered an awesome platform particularly in the line-out and the drives.
“To get over the line three times from that. We sapped the energy from the Irish boys with our scrum and maul.”
Tom Dunn added two tries for the home side, with Jonathan Joseph and Jack Walker also crossing, although Hooper knows there is always room for improvement.
“You’ve got to compare these games with pre-season friendlies. There’s always plenty to work on,” he said.
“I don’t like the way we let them score at the back end of both halves. We’ve got to sharpen up there. We’ve got to be cleaner with our discipline in those periods when a team gets a bit of momentum against you.
“It always happens and with the way the referees are interpreting the game now, things get a bit messy if you get on the end of a run of bad penalties. There’s a bit to tidy up there.
“Overall though I’m pleased and very happy to get the five points.”
London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney believes his side are on the right track despite the defeat.
“A lot of our play is heading in the right direction,” he said.
“We played a lot of good football but that never wins you matches. You’ve got to be able to do the basics as well.”
On the new rules around the breakdown, he added: “There wasn’t a whole lot different in my view. It was pretty stop-start.
“One of the things we need to improve on is timing and that will come with practice and more matches. We just need to work harder in those areas to get things right.
“We’ll be looking to referees to do what they say they are going to do and clear the ball to open the game up. There were one or two times too where our ball presentation could have been a bit better.”
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