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'That looked a season-defining game - you ask how do Bath come back from this?'

By Paul Smith

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Pressure is mounting on Bath boss Stuart Hooper following his club’s thrashing at the hands of in-form Saracens.

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Hooper’s team, who are bottom of the Gallagher Premiership table after opening their season with four consecutive defeats, shipped ten tries in a humiliating 17-71 home defeat.

This is the highest total Bath have conceded during their unbroken 34-year spell in English rugby’s top flight, while the 54-point margin of defeat at the Rec created another unwanted record.

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Dave Rennie on Quade Cooper
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Dave Rennie on Quade Cooper

It is 20 years since Hooper’s club last suffered four consecutive Premiership defeats, while their 45-point half-time deficit was the third highest in the league’s history.

BT Sport’s Ben Kay questioned whether the club’s owner Bruce Craig will consider changing the management team.

“The big worry for Stuart Hooper is not only that they haven’t had a win, but that things are getting worse since they started with a close defeat against Sale,” he said.

“As he admits, that performance is not good enough for anyone associated with Bath and he is going to be under pressure.

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“Bruce Craig and everyone involved have to decide if they can make things better by making changes now and who’s available if they do want to.

“No-one wants someone to lose their job but they have to find some answers because that looked like a season-defining game and you ask how do Bath come back from this?”

Fellow pundit Topsy Ojo also pointed to some worrying signs.

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“When you look at the playing staff you wonder how can a squad that talented look like they have no direction, bereft of ideas and completely shell-shocked?” he said.

“Were they physically and emotionally ready for that game? When your basic skills and ability to perform under pressure go missing you have to question the whole culture and direction and who is going to provide the answers when things are tough.”

Bath finished in seventh place last season which represented a disappointing return following a 2019/20 campaign which took them to a semi-final appearance.

Hooper is at least free of relegation fears due to the Premiership’s decision to further expand the league, but nonetheless his post-match comments acknowledged the scale of his concerns.

“It’s as bad as it gets, but our responsibility is to stand up and be counted,” he said.

“In every aspect of the game, physically, mentally, we were steamrollered today. They were hot today and we were spectacularly poor.

“There will be questions about me, my players and my staff, but the important thing is we keep looking each other in the eye and feel this pain together and move on.

“The players need to take responsibility but that starts with me. It’s a tough situation and it hurts, but when you’re in that situation you need to step up, stand up and be counted. That’s me, the rest of the staff and the players.”

Former Bath prop David Flatman summarised the situation with a typically wry tweet.

Bath now face a daunting trip to champions Harlequins next Saturday.

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'That looked a season-defining game - you ask how do Bath come back from this?'

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