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Mike Ford confirms Rhys Priestland will focus on Bath, not Wales, for 18 months

Published 24/10/2015

Bath head coach Mike Ford confirmed Rhys Priestland, pictured, will take a break from international duty for 18 months and focus on club duties after the their 16-9 defeat to Wasps.
Bath head coach Mike Ford confirmed Rhys Priestland, pictured, will take a break from international duty for 18 months and focus on club duties after the their 16-9 defeat to Wasps.

Bath head coach Mike Ford confirmed Rhys Priestland will take a break from international duty for 18 months and focus on club duties after the Welshman made his debut in their 16-9 defeat to Wasps.

A controversial second-half penalty try proved decisive at the Ricoh Arena as Wasps claimed their first win of the Aviva Premiership season in wet conditions.

Two late penalties from George Ford did at the very least salvage a losing bonus point for last season's Aviva runners-up.

Priestland, who won his 40th Wales cap in their World Cup quarter-final loss to South Africa, came off the bench for Kyle Eastmond in the second half.

And Ford, who later confirmed that Priestland will not be linking up with Wales again until 2017, was pleased with what he saw from the former Scarlet.

"I thought he did well. He's trained really well and fitted in," he said.

"He's just learning the calls at the moment, but the way he plays will suit us because he's a guy who can make decisions. He's a guy who can play first or second receiver.

"He can kick, he kicks goals as well, he has that experience and he's an attacking-minded player."

The key moment in the clash came before the hour mark when Nikola Matawalu pulled back Nathan Hughes after a chargedown on the try line and referee Craig Maxwell-Keys - after lengthy consulation with his TMO - gave a penalty try and a yellow card to the Fijian.

The Bath coach continued: "I thought there was cover. George (Ford) was coming across. It's small margins, isn't it?

"It went to the screen, so you've got to trust the TMO and the referee that they made the right decision.

"That seven points there is massive because in these conditions if you get a lead, it's like double, but we managed that sin-bin well. We're getting a bit too good at that after the two sin-bins last week.

"I'm delighted with a bonus point after being 16-3 down away from home in those conditions.

"I thought there was a massive incident in the first half where Kyle got taken out off the ball and he had to come off because he was groggy. I thought that was a penalty to us, if not a sin-binning.

"Hand on heart we didn't look like we were going to score, but it was difficult in those conditions. We'll take the point and move on to Harlequins next week."

Meanwhile, Dai Young was pleased to see his Wasps side get their first win under their belt - although it could have been by more.

"I thought we were by far the better team. We made a little bit of hard work of it," he said.

"Bath are never going to go away. We know that and that's why they got into the top four last season.

"I thought we controlled most aspects of the game and we should have probably won it a bit more comfortably than we did.

"We were found wanting against the top four teams last year. Today, we looked comfortable in that company."

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