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Todd Blackadder hails ‘fantastic’ Matt Banahan as he brings Bath career to an end

Banahan is moving on to Gloucester.

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder could not have been happier for Matt Banahan as he rounded off a 12-year career at the club with a hat-trick in the 63-19 win against relegated London Irish.

Banahan is making the short trip to Kingsholm to join Gloucester next season after finishing with 99 tries in blue and black.

“The best way to end a career is on top,” said New Zealander Blackadder. “The way he played today was phenomenal and 99 tries – not out! I think it’s fantastic.

“There’s no better way to leave a club. It’s a proud day for him and his family, for all he has given to Bath. The club is really proud of him, too. At least we are able to enjoy his company for another couple of days and then we part ways.

“There’s no better way to leave a club than he’s done today.”

However, there was real concern from Blackadder about hooker Tom Dunn, who may have suffered a fractured cheekbone late in the game.

“It just doesn’t look great,” he said.

Blackadder is already looking ahead to next season and another European Champions Cup campaign, which looked unlikely two weeks ago.

But a six-try win at Gloucester and another nine tries against London Irish transformed Bath’s fortunes and allowed them to pip their West Country rivals for sixth place in the Premiership.

He said: “I’ve learnt a lot myself, about what we need to do and what we need to stop doing. Next year we’ll have to do better than just playing in patches.

“The silver lining is that we are a lot clearer in how we need to play the game. We built the depth of the squad and have some quality players coming through in the Premiership as you saw today.

“But we need to have our best players available. People came back from international duty injured and really struggled. I don’t think we will be missing many to this summer’s tours though.”

The club received a big boost this week when Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau signed an extension to his contract.

Blackadder added: “That we’ve got our best players recommitting their futures to this club is a fantastic message.”

Declan Kidney, recently brought in by London Irish as technical coaching consultant, has already started planning for next season in the Champioship.

He said: “We picked a team today with a view to next year because these lads will obviously want to go well in the Championship with a view to getting back into the Premiership. Today was an opportunity to show them what is needed.

“There are things that we need to improve that are within our control. We’ll have to reflect now on how things went today.

“I see the work ethic but we need to work a bit smarter.”

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