Bath Rugby’s backline may not be striking with the same ruthlessness as last season in Aviva Premiership Rugby, but with the forwards delivering the goods up front, Ross Batty is confident they can rediscover their title-challenging form.
No.8 Amanaki Mafi has scored each of Bath’s last three tries in the league, but any reliance on their forwards would have been unthinkable last season when Bath’s free-flowing rugby almost saw them to the title.
Mike Ford’s side are without the likes of his son George, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph – who are all on international duty with England – and have struggled with a lack of fluidity going forwards this term.
But hooker Batty believes the side are close to their best form despite slipping to five defeats from their last six games, and is hopeful the forwards can provide the basis for a revival in the business end of the season.
“After that first half an hour against Exeter we hardly spent any time out of their half, so there were positives to take from it even if were massively disappointed with the result,” said the 29-year-old.
“Two tries from the rolling maul is good news. The conditions were difficult to start with, but it’s good to have that drive going as well as it is at the minute.
“It’s something that we work really hard on, and we work very hard on our scrum as well. We didn’t have the same joy on Sunday as we did with the driving maul, but it’s important to have that string to your bow. It is something we can fall back on to get us points.
“Amanaki has impressed since coming in, but to be fair it is all our hard work up front that does it for the lad!
“He carries the ball very well, he’s energetic, he works very hard and he has been massively involved in the games so far.
“It’s nice to have that with people like Leroy Houston and Amanaki flying around and getting that front-foot ball for the whole team.
“We’ve just got to take every game as it comes now and keep on looking at ourselves. All the games recently have been so tight, and you can see from all the losing bonus points that we’ve had that we’re not far off.”
Batty has endured a frustrating season so far, with an ongoing back injury limiting him to nine Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances for Bath and only six starts.
But having featured in each of their last three games, Batty is confident he has turned a corner looking ahead to the rest of the season.
He said: “I’ve had a few niggles with my back. I’ve had a lot of involvements in the games but then periods where my back just didn’t heal properly.
“I played against Toulon and felt like I had a really good game there, and then came up against Sarries desperate to be involved and hurt my back in the training week.
“That’s just the nature of the beast as it’s a physical game out there, and you’ve just got to make sure you are as good as you can be without taking any risks.
“You only get one back! The physios have told me I have to look after it so it is the way it is, and I’m only looking forwards.”