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RUGBY: Tough talking after Quins defeat, says Gold
GARY Gold has revealed soul-searching was high on the agenda when the Bath squad reconvened ahead of the resumption of their Aviva Premiership campaign at Sale tomorrow night (8pm).
The head coach admitted tough talking was in order as coaches and players arrived back on Monday and sifted through the post-mortems of their LV= Cup semi final defeat to Harlequins two weeks ago.
While the week off – Quins going on to defeat Sale in Sunday’s final – allowed time for batteries to be recharged, the pain of a second successive last-four defeat in the LV= competition still rankled with the South African this week.
Bath fell at the penultimate hurdle to an largely second-string Leicester Tigers outfit last season and history repeated itself as a young Quins side came out on top at the Stoop.
Gold said: “It's never nice to lose in a semi final so it's not been pleasant.
“We're gutted really. We let a massive opportunity go by there and it was up there with our worst performances of the year.
“We've spoken internally and there are things every one of us, including the coaches, could have done better.
“The only thing to come out of that that could be good is that if we find ourselves in that situation again, we don't make the same mistakes again.
“We've had a lot of tough, direct open talking. It's a wake-up call. It was an unacceptable performance. The bottom line is that internally, we're not going to accept performances like that again.
“The consequences of that are we didn't give ourselves an opportunity to get to a final and that's very sad.’’ With a Premiership play-off place still an albeit outside possibility and a European quarter final against Stade Francais to come in the final weeks of the season, Bath can still end the campaign with a flourish.
Gold added: “It (the LV= Cup exit) put a real dampener on the season, but we did speak about the fact that we can rectify it because we've got five games left in the league and we're still in Europe. That's what our focus is now.
“I've got a lot of faith and trust in these guys. They're hurting as much as we are and I think they are going to rectify it.’’ With strugglers Sale and London Welsh the opponents in the next two fixtures, Bath will be expected to clinch the points necessary to keep their Premiership hopes alive.
But Gold said: “I think it's significant that Sale made a (LV=) cup final and six out of their eight on the bench were probably in their starting team.
“It's clear to see where their priority is, so it's going to be incredibly difficult.
“Sale on Friday night is ordinarily not easy, but when you are playing against a team that has hit a bit of form, it's going to be a big challenge and probably a good challenge for us after what happened.
“Probably the team that have been playing more are probably in the better position. But we're in the 33rd week of the season so there is definitely enough rugby under our belts and it's how we pitch up on Friday night.
“The fact is we're seven points off fourth and we need to win more of those five games than we lose, whoever the opposition is. We've got aspirations to climb the table still and we have to win a lot more of those games than we don't.’’
Wales' Six Nations prop Paul James returns against the Sharks tomorrow, along with England front rower David Wilson, packing down either side of the returning hooker Rob Webber.
Club captain Stuart Hooper also returns to the starting line-up.
NEWS FROM BATH'S CLASH AGAINST SALE AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT TOMORROW AND MORE BATH NEWS & REACTION IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES