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George Ford determined to bring silverware to Bath

Published 18/12/2015

George Ford will spearhead Bath's bid for a second successive European Champions Cup victory against Wasps on Saturday
George Ford will spearhead Bath's bid for a second successive European Champions Cup victory against Wasps on Saturday

England star George Ford has revealed his "burning desire" to win trophies with Bath ahead of another key European Champions Cup weekend.

Ford's touchline conversion with the final kick of last Sunday's Pool Five clash against Wasps gave Bath a potentially critical away win in an intense group that also features Champions Cup holders Toulon and three-time European champions Leinster.

If Bath beat Wasps again in Saturday's Recreation Ground return, they will be undefeated group leaders going into a demanding January schedule that features home and away appointments with Toulon, either side of tackling Leinster in Dublin.

And fly-half Ford is relishing Bath's latest challenge during a week when he committed his future to the Aviva Premiership club by agreeing a two-year contract extension.

"I never thought about going anywhere else," Ford said. "It is a great environment for me to be in.

"I love the mindset we play the game with.

"We have had a couple of good years in my first three seasons here, but we have not come away with any trophies, which is a burning desire of mine and the other lads. I am really excited about the future here.

"We know how important this game is on Saturday. To go into the new year with three wins from three (in Europe) would not be a bad position, but we also want to back up last week."

And if Ford finds himself immersed in another possible winner-takes-all moment, he will relish that opportunity.

"Ultimately as a goalkicker, you get these kicks sometimes that could decide the win or the loss," he added. " I think you relish them, really. You are in your own little bubble as a goalkicker.

"You know it's a kick to win the game in the last play of the game. You know that, you understand that, but you just think of the little things you have practised a thousand times in training - all those processes, the things you stick to, the things that work for you - and focus on getting a good strike."

Bath show changes up front following their win at the Ricoh Arena, with prop Nick Auterac returning, while Matt Garvey partners Dave Attwood in the second row and Leroy Houston starts at blindside flanker, and Wasps' switches see starts for wing Frank Halai, fly-half Jimmy Gopperth and prop Lorenzo Cittadini.

"We were all frustrated with the performance and the manner in which we lost the game last weekend," Wasps rugby director Dai Young said.

"But everyone has come back to the club with a positive mentality, and I have been pleased with the reaction we've seen from the players this week."

While Bath and Wasps maintain quarter-final ambitions, Leinster's European campaign will be over if they fail to beat Toulon in Dublin on Saturday.

Three successive defeats have left Leinster facing a potential European pool stage exit for only the second time in 12 years.

"Mathematically, we are not out just yet," Leinster full-back Rob Kearney said. "This week is just about a performance.

"A win this week would do great things for the club, for the team. The chances are that a win and a performance will go hand-in-hand - it's unlikely you're going to beat Toulon and play really poorly."

Runaway Pool One leaders Saracens host Oyonnax on Saturday, six days after posting a 45-10 success against the tournament newcomers in France, and another bonus-point victory would effectively secure a quarter-final place.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Ospreys visit Bordeaux-Begles in Pool Two, Scarlets tackle Glasgow in Pool Three and Stade Francais entertain Pool Four basement team Treviso.

Sunday's Champions Cup action, meanwhile, is dominated by two mouthwatering clashes featuring English challengers Exeter and Leicester.

Exeter are chasing back-to-back victories over French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne after scoring 21 unanswered second-half points against them last weekend, but they face a stern test against opponents buoyed by their Wales centre Jonathan Davies preparing to make a first appearance since suffering knee ligament damage last May that ended his World Cup hopes.

Leicester, meanwhile, will continue their domination of Pool Four if they follow up last Saturday's impressive away win against Munster when the Irishmen arrive at Welford Road.

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