Bath preparing for the unexpected

Date published: January 16 2015

Bath head coach Mike Ford says his team will be prepared for whatever Toulouse throw at them in Sunday’s crunch European Champions Cup battle in France.

The French club are unbeaten at the top of Pool 4 after four successive victories – including their 21-19 triumph at the Rec in Round Two – while Bath need two big wins from their two remaining games if they hope to qualify for the quarter-finals.

But Sunday’s hosts are under pressure having endured a difficult time in the Top 14 and Ford believes that has led to a change in style since the last time they met.

“They’ve changed the way they play since last time. They had gone through a few defeats when they played us at home, they were very cautious and quite easy to read,” said Ford.

“They’re running the ball from their in-goal area now, turning penalties down at goal which are kickable, quick line-outs, quick taps, quick 22 restarts. But they’ve got a lot to lose at the weekend – they’re at home and they’re the favourites to go through,” said Ford.

“We’re preparing for the unexpected, but obviously if they play a different way, we’re ready for that as well. If they want to play in their own half, and we defend well and keep our shape, there are going to be opportunities to win the ball back.

“We’ve done a lot of work this year on our counter attack, our ‘chaos’ attack if you like, but if you defend loosely they’ll rip you apart.

“We’re excited about playing Toulouse at their place – we want to see how good we are,” admitted Ford. “We’re under a bit of pressure and it would hurt us professionals if we got knocked-out because we want to play in the best competition at the business end of the season.

“But if that happens it won’t change the week after, in terms of the way we want to win that game against Glasgow as well. It wouldn’t hurt the team, the belief and the place we’re in at the moment.”