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RUGBY: Claassens demands Bath step it up
11:00am Friday 26th October 2012 in Sport
IN FIVE years at the Rec Michael Claassens has seen a lot of changes – now he admits it’s time for the latest incarnation of Bath to prove they can be more than mid-table scrappers.
Currently seventh in the league, Bath welcome sixth-placed Exeter Chiefs this weekend in their return to Aviva Premiership action knowing that anything but a win could see them cut adrift in the race for a top four spot.
Capped eight times by the Springboks, Claassens is now the longest-serving South African at Bath with more and more compatriots joining him in recent seasons.
Top of that list is head coach Gary Gold and Claassens admits he is relishing finally getting the chance to work with Gold.
He said: “I’d heard a lot about Gary but I didn’t know him from my time back home so it’s great to now have had the chance to work with him.
“Everyone had said good things about him and since he and the new coaches have come in it’s been going well.
“It’s been pretty different with what’s happened over the summer. With the new coaches and structures, training is very organised and everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
“But the important thing for us now is to make sure we take our European form into the Premiership.
“We don’t want to find ourselves in a position where we are fighting for seventh place, we need to be doing better than that.”
Bath entered the European fortnight having lost three of their last four games in the Premiership including the West Country derby defeat to Gloucester.
While a trip to Romania to take on Bucuresti was always likely to be a straightforward victory, matches in France are much tougher to win.
Following on from the 40-17 success at Bucuresti, it needed a last-minute try from Claassens’ compatriot Francois Louw to see off Agen 27-22.
The scrum-half was named man of the match in that game and he revealed that the team are determined to maintain the attacking form which saw them rack up nine tries in the two matches, in the Premiership.
He added: “Our defence has generally been pretty good this season but it was nice to get the chance to score some tries as well.
“We scored three tries fairly late on in the game in Agen so we feel like we are playing some pretty good rugby.
“Now that we have those two wins though we need to go and get on a good run. That will be really important for us given where we are at the moment.
“It starts against Exeter who have been playing really well. They have opened it up this season and scored a lot of tries so it’s important that our defence is as good as it has been so far this season.”
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NEWS OF BATH'S CLASH WITH EXETER CHIEFS AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT TOMORROW, PLUS MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS & PICTURES IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES