Bath Rugby, they’ve gone from the best attacking side in the league and runners-up to ninth place and an outside bet for the top six.
George Ford looks lost at times and the hot stepping backs that were carving open everything in front of them has faltered almost all season.
I short there are three things going wrong at the Recreation Ground this season, a lack of confidence is clear to see.
George Ford is one player that seems bereft of any ability to back himself, his goal kicking has been wayward and despite the one off brilliant performance, glimpses of his former self are few and far between.
The World Cup seems to have demoralised the bright English playmaker. Having said that there were a few moments in the white of England where Ford looked like he may well be back to his fast thinking, self confident self.
The whole team now though looks as though it has not got the confidence to win the big games, matches against the likes of Toulon, Newcastle and Gloucester have demonstrated this.
They have also shown just how close Bath are to getting it right though, they cannot seem to put in that killer pass or make that telling line break which made them so deadly last season.
It don’t think it’s a case of being found out, the way Bath played last season is not something that can be found out and the attacking ‘diamond’ formation is being used by a few other teams across Europe.
This confidence is an element which would allow Bath the freedom to try the audacious play the plays that have made them the attacking force to watch last season.
Secondly the penalty count this season is colossal for Bath. The fact is a team can’t win games if it is giving away constant penalties especially when you consider the kickers in the league, Farrell, Laidlaw, Gopperth, Cipriani the list goes on, all are ready to punish you for your indiscipline.
This issue if it is one game you may be able to argue is a drop in focus, but it seems Bath have been beaten by many teams having been in front Leicester, Northampton, Gloucester have all come back in the second half to beat us.
In these particular games the opposition should have been dead and buried going into the final quarter but the penalty count has allowed them a way back in.
Take Bath’s most recent game against Gloucester at Kingsholm, Bath won but only by five points despite outscoring the hosts three tries to nil, having to work considerably harder for their points.
Bath have one of the best defensive records in Europe this season however the fact the have conceded so many penalties renders this almost useless.
The third reason Bath have had such a disappointing season is the lack of a so called ‘Plan B.’
If the flowing, running game that has served Bath so well isn’t going to plan what do Bath do? That has been the question running through the players minds for the large parts of the season when the rain starts coming down and the wind is strong what are Bath to do?
Mike Ford and his coaching team need to find these answers, they are not so important now due to us entering the warmer months but if Bath are to return to the top half next season this is key.
Bath have the personnel to grind out a win in the rain just looking at the pack Amanaki Mafi, Leroy Houston, Dave Attwood, Nick Auterac and Matt Garvey are all powerful carriers. Then you have the likes of Matt Banahan and Rokoduguni to power their way over the opposition rather then round them.
Bath have time on their side, a lot of their players are young and have committed to the club and with Taulupe Faletau, Luke Charteris and Elliott Stooke coming in. Add to that rumours of Fotouali’i and Jack Walker joining the club Bath should be able to turn this round come September.
Potential Bath 23 next season:
15 Anthony Watson 14 Semesa Rokoduguni 13 Jonathan Joseph 12 Kyle Eastmond 11 Matt Banahan 10 George Ford 9 Kahn Fotouali’i
1 Nick Auterac 2 Jack Walker 3 Henry Thomas 4 Dave Attwood 5 Luke Charteris 6 David Denton 7 Francois Louw (Captain) 8 Taulupe Faletau
16 Ross Batty 17 Nathan Catt 18 Davey Wilson 19 Matt Garvey 20 Leroy Houston 21 Chris Cook 22 Tom Homer 23 Horacio Agulla