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Max Lahiff: Bath Rugby must not settle for second best

Max Lahiff was one of Bath Rugby’s star performers as their scrum put heavy pressure on Saracens last weekend – but the loosehead admits standards are still not quite good enough at the club.

Bath have yet to really find their feet this season though at Allianz Park on Saturday it looked as if the tide was about to turn – against the Aviva Premiership Rugby champions no less.

Indeed the clash was far closer than Bath’s loss to Saracens at Twickenham last May but Saracens have only lost once this season for a reason.

Though Bath were leading 13-0 at half-time, a Maro Itoje-inspired Saracens came roaring back and finished with a ten-minute flourish to win the game.

Lahiff, who had replaced the injured Nick Auterac early on, had given the Saracens scrum more than a run for its money.

But the fact remains that Bath have won just three of their nine Aviva Premiership Rugby games this season, and 26-year-old Lahiff says his side must raise the bar higher.

“We were massively disappointed but I had a lot of fun in the game, especially as we were playing the champions,” he said.

“But we’ve got to keep that intensity up for 80 minutes, I’m sure Mark McCall put a rocket up them up at half-time and we couldn’t quite get over the line.

“We’ve got the structures in place but at the moment what is letting us down is the silly penalties, I think we’re conceding almost two points on average from them a game.

"And when that’s happening, it’s quite difficult to cope with that. The system in defence is what made us one of the best teams in that area in the league this year.

“We’d watched what Saracens had been doing and what Petrus (du Plessis) had done in the last couple of games was making some good players look a bit silly.

"So many penalties, penalties tries had been coming from his side and I was massively up for the challenge. The ability to get into them in the scrum was always going to be one of our main strengths in the match.

“When we are on the money we one of the best in Europe, let alone the Premiership.”

The next chance for Bath to get on track comes no less in a West Country derby with Gloucester Rugby, who suffered their own late defeat to Leicester Tigers last weekend.

And Lahiff added: “There’s a massive refocus going on for us, we know we need to come out really strong in the second half of the season, to break into that top four we’ve very much still got the hunger and know it’s possible.”
 

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