Bath v London Irish

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Bath v London Irish

by OxonRob on Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:09 am

No chance at all for lacklustre Exiles
By Tweedle-dum

At long last the upstart Irish have been found out, their over-inflated balloon finally popped. Following an inept and ambition-less display in the gay capital of the West Country two weeks earlier, and an undeserved break from their travails in the rarified atmosphere of the GP’s top 5, lowly Newcastle turned up at the weekend and dumped the Exiles unceremoniously in the Madejski mud where they belong. The vaunted Exiles pack found it harder than the Geordies to bend double and pluck the ball from the mud, and seemed unable to pass above knee height.

This game was not a pretty sight, but it gave huge satisfaction to the serried ranks of the press corps, whose dismissive stance towards the London émigrés has long been the subject of complaint by the club’s green-tinted group of unbiased supporters.

The motley crew of assorted passed-over Springboks and Samoans, wannabe All Blacks and never will be Irish hopefuls just have not gelled as a team and there are strong rumours of an imminent player take-over in the dressing room, where the tyrannical Smith-Booth partnership lacks credibility as well as charm.

In fact, the troubled Irish seem to have problems off the park as well as on it. While gallant Harlequins fill both the headlines and their ground fortnight after fortnight in ND1, the Exiles seldom get anything like a 50% attendance in industrial Reading. This is doubtless behind the rumoured demise of Commercial Director Pat Coyne, although extended industrial action by the club’s ticket office, making ticket-purchase impossible, may also have contributed to their lower than hoped-for crowds. Attendance may also reflect the over-hyped publicity of the previous three seasons, in which much was promised and little delivered.

We now await what I forecast at the start of the season – a rapid slide into the obscurity of ND1, and the imminent break-up of the hastily assembled United Nations of rugby. After all, Harlequins they are not.

So, what will happen at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, when London Irish take on Bath, now rejuvenated and creative once more under backs dynamo Brian Ashton?

Mayhem is the answer, mayhem. Tweedle-dummer has forecast a fifty points difference, but I say that sixty is more likely. After all, the Bath ‘A’ team managed to put more than sixty points on the Exiles on Monday, after the London Irish official website thundered beforehand that they were putting out a “strong team” and afterwards that Bath were “a different class.”

The alleged strength of both teams lies in their front five, and on Monday it became quite obvious that Bath’s third team is good enough to put away the Irish first pick unit. However, they probably won’t get a game, for Bath’s international contingent are all expected to be back in harness, while the Exiles will be weakened by the absence of Nick Kennedy with the England ‘A’ team. So, they were never going to win the scrums, and now they won’t win any opposition line-outs either!

Never has it been so easy for a pundit to be proved right.

In the back row, Irish came second against Newcastle, and it is to be expected that Bath will obliterate their opponents in the loose, turning over what scant possession manages to reach such midfield backs as they have available to play. It doesn’t really matter, for their only tactic is to go on predictable charges into contact (where they will be turned over) to send long miss passes to the wing (where they will be intercepted) or to kick ahead into the hands of the Bath back three, who will score frequently from such possession.

I shall not bother to attend, as I have a prior engagement at a wine-tasting in a Peckham vineyard. However, I have already written my match report, and my faithful side-kick will simply enter the scores into the template.

Nothing can possibly go wrong, can it?
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by OxonRob on Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:14 pm

So much for the pundits! They have been writing us off for years, and we've survived. I would not want to be associated with them.

I think we have more than half a chance of showing our better face on Saturday. We usually play better against better teams.
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by Brendan on Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:21 pm

A word from the East side. As all ways another good post, well done.
There are no strangers, only friends you haven't met.
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