Bath coach Meehan angry after team squander big lead

WOE FOR WORCESTER: In other Guinness Premiership matches on Saturday, Harlequins beat Gloucester and Leicester thrashed Worcester 38-5

Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 18


Australian coach Steve Meehan questioned his Bath side’s resolve after they blew a 17-0 half-time lead in a 20-20 draw at home to English Guinness Premiership play-off rivals London Irish on Saturday.

Tries from lock Stuart Hooper, wing Matt Banahan and full-back Joe Maddock put Bath in a commanding position at the Recreation Ground.

But the Exiles responded with tries from wing Adam Thompstone, Samoan center Seilala Mapusua and England international wing Topsy Ojo, plus a penalty and conversion from fly Shane Geraghty.

“It is not the happiest afternoon,” said Meehan, who spent four successful year’s at Stade Francais before joining Bath.

“I said to the players how do you have a 17-0 lead and turn it into a 20-20 draw?” he said.

“At times, we just strolled through the game thinking someone would take care of it,” he said.

“Irish’s first try was a good one, but their second and third tries should never have come about. It was about mental application and the willingness to work. To allow them the holes we did was criminal,” Meehan said.

Irish have now gone four league games without a win but head coach Toby Booth said: “After being 17-0 down, that is definitely two points gained.”

“We were fairly average in the first half. We were too passive, and you get punished by good sides,” he said. “We are striving to be a consistent side, and I believe we are now a competitive force in the Premiership.”

Harlequins stayed in touch with the play-off contenders after a 14-9 win over Gloucester, whose losing bonus point was good enough to take them back to the top of the table.

Quins’ New Zealand playmaker Nick Evans converted his own try before three penalties from England’s Olly Barkley put Bath 9-7 in front.

It was a lead the visitors retained until four minutes from time when Quins saw Tom Williams score their second try, which was converted by Chris Malone.

Leicester closed in on the play-off places with a 38-5 thrashing of Worcester at Welford Road.

Argentine Marcos Ayerza, Samoan Alex Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Sam Vesty and Matt Smith scored Leicester’s five tries with Worcester’s only points coming when Will Bowley crossed the Tigers’ line in the second-half.

On Friday Sale beat Bristol 32-13 while Newcastle downed Saracens 13-9.