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Banahan: Bath Rugby youngsters are fearless

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Matt Banahan stole the show at the Rec on Friday but the Bath Rugby winger admits he must pay tribute to his supporting cast.

Bath’s European Rugby Champions Cup clash with Montpellier was rugby league convert Sam Burgess’ much-anticipated maiden start for the club.

But it was Banahan who caught the eye, racking up a hat-trick of tries as the hosts clinched a bonus-point win to maintain their fightback from a slow start in Pool 4 – replacement Horacio Agulla completing the job late on.

However, the 27-year-old admits it is the club’s new crop of England internationals – George Ford, Kyle Eastmond, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni – who deserve just as much credit.

“It was good for the team,” said Banahan. “We knew five points would help us massively and it is nice to cross the whitewash a few times.

“It was a nice feeling to be out there and doing what I used to do and I really enjoyed watching Horacio Agulla’s try at the end because I enjoy a team try.

“I played in the two previous games with [Burgess] and we know there is a lot of pressure and we are there to take that off him during training sessions and matches. If I can take some, I will do that.

“You see the youngsters these days – they are fearless and they play what is in front of them. George is a great leader on the pitch and orchestrates thing brilliantly.

“You have got the talent of JJ, Kyle, Roko and Anthony, then there is little old me just finishing off at the end. It is just fun to be out there.”

Bath will likely need to win both of their last two European matches to reach the knockout stages of the competition and Banahan admits it is a tough test.

However, Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes with Exeter Chiefs, Leicester Tigers and Wasps lie in wait before then – as well as this weekend’s derby clash with Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.

“You play these games to make memories to tell your kids and your grandkids and this is the first Saturday night game I have ever played in against Gloucester,” he added. “Hopefully we can give the fans something to shout about.

“We maybe let it slip against Glasgow and that was a big knock to our confidence but we have shown our character as a team since then.

“We have climbed to second in the Premiership and we are second in our pool. We are a squad of good players that will keep battling.

“Now we know we have got a massive ask with Toulouse away and Glasgow at home but we have got four massive games in the Premiership first.

“If we want to be competing with the top teams in this league we have got to be putting some Ws down on the pitch.”

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