Bath Rugby have a score to settle after losing last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final but winger Semesa Rokoduguni admits there is also revenge to be had on the season’s the opening weekend.
Mike Ford’s side suffered not one, but two pre-season defeats to Exeter Chiefs – their opponents at the Rec on Saturday – most recently a 43-16 reversal last weekend.
However, Bath have lost just once on the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s opening weekend since 2006 – a 24-5 loss to Gloucester Rugby in 2009 – and won their last six regular-season games.
They have also lost just one league game at the Rec since March 2014 and Rokoduguni believes Bath are ready to end a long off-season – following a 28-16 defeat to Saracens at Twickenham in May – with a win.
“The boys have learnt their lessons from last weekend’s result against Exeter,” he said. “We’ve been doing the reviews with the coaches and the staff about where we went wrong.
“It’s about playing our own game and not getting drawn into anything else. Obviously it was not great to lose last weekend but this is a fresh start in the Premiership so we can’t read too much into that game.
“I’m sure the crowd will be up for it down at the Rec so hopefully we can put a marker down for the season again.
“Obviously we just lost out in the final last year, we perhaps lost a bit of the detail around our game, so it’s important to start this weekend well.
“I set myself goals and targets for the season but it’s about taking it one week at a time, and hopefully playing well this weekend.”
Exeter have been defeated just once in round 1 since being promoted into Aviva Premiership Rugby for the first time in 2010 and they finished off last season with a pair of victories, at Saracens and at home to Sale Sharks.
Rob Baxter’s side also beat Bath for the first time on their tenth meeting in the competition at Sandy Park in February, whilst their only competitive victory at the Recreation Ground in any tournament was 22-19 in the semi-final of the LV= Cup in March 2014.
However, captain Jack Yeandle – who signed a new deal at the club this week – admits anything can happen on the day.
“It’s a tough place to go and play,” said the hooker. “It always has been but any place you play in the Premiership is a tough place to go.
“It’s an opening game and anything can happen on opening days. We will go up there, try and fire a shot and see what we can get.
“They are a very good squad with lots of strength in depth so it’s going to be a very fierce and competitive game. Fingers crossed we can come out on the right side of it.”
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Recreation Ground, 2pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (96th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell & Gareth Copsey. TMO: Rowan Kitt.