Brad Davis: We knew Agen would be tough test for Bath Rugby
Coming away from Agen with a win and a four-try bonus point was all that the Bath coaching team could have wished for from their Amlin Challenge Cup excursion to south west France.
Clinching the victory with a Francois Louw try in the final minute with a touch-down that needed the television match official’s approval was less convincing, along with a first-half display littered with missed tackles and bad kicks.
“We knew they would be a tough nut to crack,” said Bath first-team coach Brad Davis. “The wind was also a massive factor. Playing with the elements in the first half, we went for field position and probably played into their hands a bit. As a result, they put some dents into us around the ruck.
“After the break, we knew we had to keep hold of the ball and simply go out and win the game.
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“They’re a big team and we needed to move them about, get them to make tackles and put them under pressure.
“That’s what set up the last 20 minutes when our superior fitness told.
“It was a classic game where one side has the breeze in the first half and relies on the kicking game too much.
“In the second 40, we knew we just had to play. That’s what we did and we managed to come away with it.”
In the first half, there were two very big moments for the Bath pack.
For the first, Agen were pushed off their own ball on the Bath line.
The pack then repeated the feat on 34 minutes on Agen’s line, enabling Michael Claassens to touch down.
Dominating the scrum and maul throughout, Bath threatened to break clear from 60 minutes on, especially after tries by Kyle Eastmond and Stephen Donald.
Instead a 60-metre Agen penalty set the tone for a final quarter of dogged resistance.
“Credit to our guys, they stuck together into the very last second and got away with that final try,” said captain Louw.
“This is a cup we’re taking seriously and are very happy with the win.
“We’ve had a slow start to the Premiership and with Exeter up next, a big solid team, we need to take the momentum we’ve got from these two games into that contest.”
Asked if dealing with Agen’s Tongan number eight Fonua had been a good workout for Exeter, Louw added: “He’s a big boy, certainly. You have to climb into these guys early on. We gave up too many metres at times, but we hung in there.”