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Ford wants Bath to drive on

Mike Ford believes Bath are ready to take risks and make their attacking game a more potent weapon in the pursuit of Aviva Premiership honours this season.

The west country club made an impressive start to the league campaign by winning 21-0 at promoted Newcastle last week.

But they must now be ready for a different ball game at the Recreation Ground on Saturday when champions Leicester, albeit wounded by a lengthy injury list, provide the opposition.

"We came in last season as a new coaching group and thought we had to put a bit of toughness in there - defence, discipline and getting field position," Bath first team coach Ford said.

"This season, we want to challenge, so we want to score more points.

"We are not hiding away from that, and with that comes more attack, more risk. We think we've got the platform to do that.

"Teams will be respecting us more and preparing more, so we have to go up to another level again.

"Success for me this season will be how we attack and doing a lot better than last year in terms of the league position. Those are the two things for me."

Bath hand a Premiership debut to much-travelled Wales international centre Gavin Henson, but Leicester are without the likes of Tom Croft, Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Geoff Parling.

Wasps make the trip to Devon on Saturday with rugby director David Young expecting Sandy Park opponents Exeter to come out firing following their 38-11 thumping by Northampton last weekend.

"I think last week's loss will have focused Exeter's minds." Young said.

"You cannot underestimate the squad and the team that Northampton have put together for this season - they are going to be formidable - but I was still a little surprised by the distance they put between the two teams.

"Certainly at home, it is going to be a different kettle of fish for Exeter. It's an ideal opportunity for them to bounce back, and we have to start well and not allow them to get their noses in front."

Wasps, who will be without their prolific try-scoring wing Tom Varndell after he ruptured his biceps in training earlier this week, suffered an agonising one-point loss to Harlequins last Saturday.

And Young added: "Our discipline needs to be better, and we know too that we have got to be more clinical in attack.

"We also need to continue our defensive effort, which I thought was really good against Quins, but it will be tested again because Exeter keep the ball alive far more than any other team."

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has made just one change, handing a first start to highly-rated England Under-20 centre Sam Hill as the Chiefs look to bounce back immediately from events at Franklin's Gardens.

"We are not suddenly sitting here thinking everything is going wrong. It doesn't work like that," Baxter said.

"We know we are a good Premiership side that has had a poor game - that just about sums it up - but we need to make this weekend a lot more about us and what we want to do, and that is how you tend to get performances and results.

"An opening day defeat is only what you let it be. If we were sitting in the dressing room saying that we had lost our first game so we were going to have a bad season, then that would be a pretty poor attitude to take.

"I would like to think we will look at it by asking what we can learn from it and going from there. Sometimes it can drive the rest of the season and become a real positive for you."

Saturday's other game sees Worcester and London Irish clashing at Sixways - both sides suffered opening weekend defeats - while Saracens are at home to Gloucester on Sunday.


From Belfast Telegraph