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Premiership Rugby

Bath face ‘massive’ game against London Irish

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Michael Foley, the former Wallaby hooker, said that matches do not come much bigger than the clash against fellow strugglers London Irish who are just two points ahead of the bottom-ranked Bath.

"We will not kid ourselves," said Foley.

"We have to understand what is necessary to get ourselves out of this position. I expect the London Irish game to be a tough one. It is a challenge and they don't come any tougher."

Bath Rugby's remaining three matches in the Premiership are against opposition scrapping at the bottom of the table (London Irish, Bristol and Newcastle), and Foley knows that to avoid the drop, would be as big a prize as winning the Premiership itself.

"It is a massive game on Thursday. For us now, staying up is as big as winning the Premiership."

The relegation dog-fight promises to go down right to the wire as just four points separates the bottom five teams with the side finishing bottom apparently being relegated to National Division One for 2003/04.

Foley's side will need to raise their game by another level if they are to beat the Exiles on Thursday, but at least he will be able to take heart from a much-improved second half performance against London Wasps.

"It was a disappointing performance. There were errors and missed tackles and that cost us. Wasps were on the front foot in the first half and a lot of it looked like anxious play from us."

Bath dominated the English league in the early 1990s, winning five titles in six seasons between 1990 and 1996, and won the European Cup in 1998.

* The game against London Irish kicks off at 20.00 BST (19.00 GMT) and tickets are still available from the Bath Rugby ticket office on +44 (0)1225 460 588.

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