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Booth wants stronger starts

Bath coach Toby Booth believes the Aviva Premiership title contenders cannot afford a repeat of their discipline lapses against play-off rivals Wasps on Saturday.

Booth looked on as Bath's five game unbeaten league record came to an end through a 17-8 defeat at Leicester last weekend.

And it was a poor start to the match that effectively cost second-placed Bath any hope of victory.

"If you look at the first 20 minutes to the last 20 minutes against Leicester, there is a massive difference between the two, and we need to work on our discipline early in the game," Booth said.

"We gave ourselves too much to do with poor early discipline last time out, and that is something we are looking to work on against Wasps.

"It is a cliche, but there are no easy games in this league.

"Wasps will be another tough test, especially since they are still on a bit of a high off the back of their move (to Coventry)."

Wasps will arrive in the west country following an eventful week, with rugby director Dai Young having agreed a new contract, in addition to the signings of half-backs Jimmy Gopperth and Dan Robson for next season.

It is now back to on-field business, though, and Young has no doubt about the size of the task awaiting his team this weekend.

"For me, Bath are the team of the season, so it doesn't come any tougher than playing them away this weekend," Young said.

"The Premiership is so tight - every single point counts.

"This is a significant period of the season and a massive run of games for teams - in the league, LV= Cup and the European Rugby Champions Cup, where the next two games will determine whether or not we reach the knockout stage of the competition.

"The next five weeks will really shape the latter part of our season.

"We have built good momentum with five wins on the bounce, but we know we are up against a formidable Bath squad who will be hurting after last weekend's loss against Leicester.

"They will also want to make amends after we produced one of our best performances of the season to beat them at Adams Park last year, when they were flying high."

Sale Sharks' home game against Premiership leaders Northampton on Saturday is highlighted by a fly-half head-to-head between England elite player squad hopefuls Danny Cipriani and Stephen Myler.

Both players have produced consistently impressive form this season, with Cipriani hoping to inspire a return to winning ways for Sale following defeats against Leicester and Wasps.

"We had a good run leading up to Christmas, but to lose like we did against Leicester - playing so well and then dropping off late in the game - and the game against Wasps, was disappointing," Sale skipper Dan Braid said.

"We really look forward to these games. These are the ones that you want to play in - against a top side at your home ground.

"We've got good memories of the same clash last season where we managed to tip them over, so it's very exciting going into this weekend."

Sunday's Premiership action, meanwhile, sees Newcastle hosting Premiership bottom club London Welsh, with play-off contenders Exeter tackling London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.


From Belfast Telegraph