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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

Johan van Graan has quietly set about improving every facet of the West Country club and results are starting to come

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'Obviously being selected for England is out of their hands'

By PA
England's Ben Loader (UP) is tackled during the Rugby Union World Cup U20 championship match England vs Scotland at the Mediterranean Stadium in Beziers, southern France, on June 7, 2018. (Photo by SYLVAIN THOMAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

London Irish’s director of rugby Declan Kidney quipped that his side were “inclined to entertain” as they won a game of 13 tries 47-38 against Bath.

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A breathtaking first-half performance from Irish saw them build a 35-5 advantage before taking their foot off the gas to concede five second-half tries and nearly allow the visitors a second losing bonus point.

Irish wings Ben Loader and Ollie Hassell-Collins both scored hat-tricks, with Paddy Jackson also scoring a try and converting six.

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Replacement Niall Annett scored two tries for Bath on his debut. Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Matt Gallagher, Joe Cokanasiga and Piers Francis were also on the try-scoring sheet, with Orlando Bailey adding four conversions.

Kidney said: “We are inclined to entertain but the second-half performance wasn’t acceptable.

“Fortunately we were able to score at the right time to keep our noses in front, but we will have to learn some lessons from it for on other days we could be on the other end of a tonking.

“When you lose momentum it’s very hard to get it back, for if you concede a try it’s probable that you are in danger of conceding more.

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“We scored some good tries in the first half and were on our game for 36 of the 40 minutes. In the second half we were only on it for 10 of the 40 minutes.

“They scored a good try in the first half and I knew they were capable of scoring others and to be fair to them they came out fighting despite losing a couple of players to injury.”

The Irish wings were electric in the first half to reward some slick handling from their inside backs.

Kidney added: “The two hat-tricks will be one for the record books and they finished well, but what pleased me more was the work done inside to create their opportunities.

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“Obviously being selected for England is out of their hands, all they can do is concentrate on their game and keep impressing.”

Bath’s new head coach Johann van Graan saw his side endure a miserable first half for the second week running.

They lost Josh McNally and GJ van Velze to dislocated shoulders and No 8 Josh Bayliss picked up a yellow card as their opponents ran riot.

Van Graan said: “It’s another loss so I’m not proud of the performance, but I am proud of the reaction to come back.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to concede 35 first-half points and then win the second half 33-12, but we began by losing our first line-out, then two scrums before giving away needless penalties.

“It’s simply not good enough and there are no excuses as we have to learn to play for 80 minutes.

“You can’t control injuries, but we lost two line-out callers with serious problems which could put them out for months.

“We are looking to bring in some bodies as we’ve had a lot of big injuries in the first three weeks.”

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