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BATH RUGBY: General Barkley is Bath's banker
BATH flanker Josh Ovens has saluted the early-season form of teammate Olly Barkley as one of the driving forces behind the team’s unbeaten start.
Barkley, who scored all of his side’s points in the Aviva Premiership opener at Worcester two weeks ago, added another 15 in the 30-23 home win over Wasps last weekend.
But Broughton Gifford’s Ovens, who was on the bench for that clash after playing 80 minutes for the United team at Exeter the previous week, believes it’s the game management of 23-times capped England ace Barkley that has stood out in the opening fortnight.
Barkley has played primarily at inside centre in recent seasons but, with injuries to World Cup winner Stephen Donald and Tom Heathcote, has been installed back into the number 10 jersey.
“Olly is playing at 10 now which is something he hasn’t done for a while,’’ said Ovens, who hopes to feature against Northampton Saints at the Rec tonight (7.45pm).
“His kicking has been awesome in the first two matches but the other thing is that he’s put us in the right areas of the pitch to play the game.
“It’s all very well having a gameplan, but you have to be in the right place to carry it out and a lot of that is down to him, which is a massive credit to him.
Bath have been boosted by the news that the knee injury suffered by England centre Matt Banahan in the Wasps clash is not as serious as first feared.
Banahan, who scored his side’s opening try, left the field late on wearing a leg brace, but the club have revealed he strained a knee and bruised the bone, although it is unclear how long the player will be sidelined.
Bath back row Francois Louw will start in South Africa’s team to face New Zealand in the Rugby Championship in Dunedin tomorrow.