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Watson keen to keep the tempo

England star Anthony Watson is determined that the high-pressure environment of a Twickenham final must not be allowed to cramp Bath's style.

Bath are committed not to go off-message when they tackle Saracens on Saturday for the right to be crowned Aviva Premiership champions.

Watson and company have lit up the domestic game this season through their thrilling attacking approach, one that has seen them arrive at Twickenham following a Premiership campaign overflowing with tries.

Bath have posted 79 touchdowns in 22 league games and one play-off tie this season - 12 of those in two home matches against Leicester - as players like Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan have consistently cut loose.

With Saracens boasting statistically the Premiership's best defence this term, Saturday's final has been billed as a genuine clash of styles and an intriguing contest that even the bookmakers can scarcely call.

"It's crucial for us to continue to play how we have done all year," full-back Watson said.

"I think that is what has got us in the position we are in. We're not going to play how we have played all year, get to Twickenham and then change that.

"We know Saracens are going to come with their game-plan, and it's going to be about us being smart and not taking everything on.

"When it is on to run, we will do so. When it's not on to run, we will kick it back and wait for our opportunities."

Watson is among a number of England World Cup training squad players who line up opposite each other this weekend, in his case facing Alex Goode, with other potential individual contests including Eastmond against Brad Barritt, Bath's George Ford against Owen Farrell and Sam Burgess against Maro Itoje.

But Watson has played down any significance, adding: "Every week, almost, you play against someone or against someone in the back-line who you've come across in England colours or played with in England colours.

"So I don't think that makes too much difference. It's something that we are used to.

"I don't think we will approach that any differently. We are trying to approach this game as we have approached every other game this year, which has allowed us to get into the position we are in."

Two areas where Saracens will look to make a considerable impact should be the aerial battle for possession and utilising the fearsome tackling of flanker Jacques Burger, who terrorised Northampton during last Saturday's play-off clash at Franklin's Gardens.

"I have been on the receiving end of a couple of his tackles, and it's not great, so I will avoid him at all costs!" Watson said.

"He is obviously a good player, but coming to the final it's going to be about concentrating on ourselves.

"We understand what Saracens are going to do in terms of their game-plan but we're concentrating on what we can do, how we can break down their defence.

"In terms of the aerial battle, we have done a lot of work in that area, especially with (Bath skills coach specialist) Darren Edwards, who has implemented all kinds of techniques to try and replicate the aerial contest.

"It's difficult in training without going head to head, really, but we've implemented systems with pads and stuff, and we will do a lot of work this week to allow ourselves to be in the best frame of mind and best-prepared for the aerial threat.

"I am sure that come Saturday, we will be ready."


From Belfast Telegraph