It’s make-or-break time for Bath Rugby this weekend as they host Newcastle Falcons and full-back Tom Homer has challenged his team-mates to dig deep.
A win for the Falcons at the Recreation Ground could see them move even further away from London Irish at the foot of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, while a win for Bath would see Homer no longer looking over his shoulder at the foot of the table.
Mike Ford’s side have won just twice in the last eight rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby; 16-14 at Worcester in February and 25-17 at home to London Irish in March.
But what Bath would give for back-to-back home wins for the first time in this year’s tournament is immeasurable.
Last Friday they slumped to defeat against Harlequins but Ford’s men did produce a late comeback that almost saw them claim the unlikeliest of wins, and Homer is looking to build on the final ten minutes at the Stoop.
"We've just got to live play-by-play and do the best we can as an individual, and as a team, in that play,” he said.
"Mistakes happen. That's rugby, that's sport, but as long as your next action is a positive one that's got to be the main focus, going forward.
"No-one likes losing, it's very disappointing. But I'm proud of the boys' effort to dig deep and get the losing bonus point, considering how far ahead Quins were ahead.
"It was just kind of devil may care at the end. We chucked the ball about and attacked Quins.
"The speed of the ball and our tempo was difficult to live with, but they did that to us earlier in the game. Credit to them, they played some good rugby.
"It just happened out of nowhere. It's always going to be hard in this league to claw your way back from being so far behind, but we had patches of brilliance and patches of really very average rugby.
"We need to play like we did in the last 20 minutes for the full 80. That's the bottom line."
Newcastle Falcons have lost their last three matches against Gloucester, Worcester Warriors and Exeter Chiefs and are one of only two sides yet to win away from home in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season.
Newcastle did beat Bath 19-14 at Kingston Park in round eight, but have only once before achieved a season's Premiership double over them – when they were champions in the inaugural campaign of 1997/8.
The Falcons' most recent victory at the Recreation Ground was 27-16 in October 2009, but despite those unwanted statistics, Falcons boss Dean Richards is refusing to be downcast.
He said: “We lost our shape defensively a couple of times down the short-side last week against Exeter, which caused us a problem, but once we got used to that threat we coped with it really well.
“A couple of silly penalties here and there cost us dear, and then our lack of accuracy compounded that.
“Exeter had a few boys missing, as we did as well. It wasn’t down to the players who weren’t there or anything like that – it was a good game and we just needed a little bit more accuracy in attack.”
(Recreation Ground, 7.45pm)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (103rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Andrew Small. TMO: Stuart Terheege.
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