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RUGBY: Skirving eyes momentum push
5:10pm Friday 11th January 2013 in Sport
AFTER racking up four bonus point victories in the Amlin Challenge Cup, Bath Rugby could be forgiven for taking Friday’s group game with Agen lightly – but that won’t happen if Ben Skirving has anything to do with it.
The experienced number eight sits out tomorrow's clash (2.15pm), but believes victory is vital towards helping Bath when they return to Aviva Premiership action where they have gone four league games without a win.
The West Country outfit made a great start to Sunday’s 29-15 defeat at Wasps with a fantastic, first-minute solo try from Nick Abendanon and a second from Michael Claassens only to fade after the break.
The loss leaves Bath 10 points outside the top four places, but Skirving insists back-to-back wins over Agen and Romanian side Bucharest Wolves could be just what the team need to reignite their season.
“We scored two good tries early on but Wasps came back and played quite well – we’re disappointed with our discipline at the breakdown where we gave them a few points, and unfortunately didn’t get the win,” said the 29-year-old forward.
“Now we’re looking to go into a new competition this weekend and build some momentum, and we can still push for a top four position this season.
“One of the areas we need to improve on is looking after the ball – we got into a few good positions against Wasps but the ball was lost.
“Ball retention is one of the key areas where we could have put ourselves in a better position.”
Agen are currently 12th in the French Top 14, but pushed Bath all the way in a 22-27 defeat in October.
And Skirving, whose one cap for England came in a 55-22 defeat to South Africa in 2007, insists the Bath squad will have no problem motivating themselves for the game.
“I don’t think it will be difficult getting the boys up for the game, because every time we as a squad pull on the Bath shirt and go out to play we want to do the best we can for the club,” said the former Saracens player.
“Agen are a big side and when we went over there it was a close game and we expect a big physical challenge because they have a strong pack.”
Over the past three seasons Skirving has made himself a fixture in the Bath side, but after surgery for a thumb injury found himself a frustrated bystander during a seven-week spell on the sidelines.
Now restored to the first team, the hardworking forward is just happy to be playing again – and determined to help Bath get back to winning ways.
“I was out for seven weeks but I’ve played the last two games and I seem to be settling in again,” he said.
“I’m pleased to be back involved and I’m focusing on getting back into the rhythm of games.
“These games are very important - we’re in a good position at the top of the group and we want to build some good momentum.”
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NEWS FROM BATH'S CLASH AGAINST AGEN AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT TOMORROW AND IN NEXT WEEK'S WILTSHIRE TIMES
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