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Derby delight for Ford

Bath head coach Mike Ford was thrilled after his side battered derby rivals Gloucester 50-30 to finish runners-up in the Aviva Premiership, just one point off top spot.

Bath ran in seven tries at The Rec, with Kyle Eastmond, George Ford, Sam Burgess, Ollie Devoto, Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni and Horacio Agulla all dotting down on a dream day for the South West side.

Mike Ford was understandably purring after his side's display, but he was also delighted to have come through the contest unscathed ahead of next Saturday's home semi-final against Leicester .

"Everyone's fit," he said after matching table-topping Northampton's total of 16 wins with another bonus point victory. "That includes Stuart Hooper - we could have played him today - and Jonathan Joseph. Nobody's got any injuries.

"Matt Banahan came off as a precaution and the others came off just for a rest really.

"It's a fantastic position to be in, playing Leicester at home with a full fit squad. We can't wait."

The Bath head coach acknowledged that the performance was not perfect, adding: "I just said to the players, I know we conceded 30 and there was a bit of an end-of-season, nothing-at-stake feel to the game.

"But looking at the 22 matches, it's been a great season. Last year we were one point off getting fourth place. This year we're one point off top.

Of the challenge from Leicester, he said: "Next week will be completely different, not unlike a Test match."

He added: "It will be a tough selection next week. We won't fit everyone in, of course, but it's a great position to be in.

"Over the last four or five years, it's only been Northampton, Leicester, Quins and Sarries. We've now broken into the top four.

"We know what we can do, how we can play. We're just looking forward to it. "

Gloucester actually opened the scoring via Lewis Ludlow before Bath took over, with Stephen McColl (twice) and Dan Robson also going over for the Cherry and Whites.

Gloucester's Director of Rugby David Humphreys was not at all downbeat about the defeat ahead of their home play-off against Connacht for a European Rugby Champions Cup place.

"Playing Connacht will be a huge challenge for us," he said. "When Connacht came to Kingsholm the last time they performed pretty well.

"They are now a completely different team to what they were 18 months ago. In terms of recruitment they have brought in some very good players - and Robbie Henshaw has come through as a world-class player.

"We're under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead. It's one we are looking forward to and it gives us a chance to get the club back into Europe next season."

On the performance against Bath, he said: "The positives definitely outweighed the negatives today. We conceded 50 points but at the same time our younger players will benefit from the experience of playing here in such an intimidating venue.

"That gives us a lot of hope - not just looking ahead to the next few weeks and months, but beyond that. We've just got to develop these young players and give them the opportunity to get out and show what they can do, not just in training but in a match situation."


From Belfast Telegraph