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Bath to wash away smell of defeat

Bath captain Luke Watson accepts his team's Aviva Premiership demise against Gloucester last week was "an absolutely shocking" performance, but the South African number eight does not expect any fall-out to hamper Bath in Sunday's Heineken Cup opener against Biarritz.

Watson and company return to Recreation Ground action just nine days after their fierce west country rivals stunned them 18-3 - hardly ideal preparation for the start of a European campaign.

"It wasn't a characteristic display for us," he said. "We've had many good games this season, and it was just one of those games that was absolutely shocking. We could attribute it to a lot of things, but I don't see it as a determining factor going into this weekend's game. It could be a real wake-up call, so I do think we are in a lot better, much stronger position."

He added: "We were completely below par. Our accuracy was below standard, everything was below standard. Even our attitude, perhaps.

"It was one of those days when we didn't do ourselves justice, and we have to look at ourselves technically and the attitude we came into the game with."

Bath host last season's Heineken Cup runners-up without the services of their England skipper Lewis Moody, who suffered an eye injury during the Gloucester encounter.

Scotland international Simon Taylor replaces him at openside flanker, while head coach Steve Meehan calls up props Nathan Catt and David Wilson against a Biarritz side featuring ex-Bath back Iain Balshaw and is spearheaded by goalkicking scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili.

One of Bath's key tasks will be to keep Biarritz and France back-row star Imanol Harinordoquy in check, although it was a job that proved beyond most of his opponents last season.

"He is really, really good - one of the best in the world," acknowledged Watson.

"In the last Six Nations he was unbelievable, the best player in the tournament in my view. We play very different styles, but I am looking forward to it."


From Belfast Telegraph