Premiership Lowdown: Bath

Fact-File:

Last season: 5th

Home ground: The Rec (104 miles)

Odds: 18/1

Bath’s base for lift-off:

Bath have laid the foundations for a play-off challenge after a strong first season under a new coaching team led by Todd Blackadder.

Despite an injury hit campaign, Blackadder’s side spent over 77 per cent of the season in the play-offs but finished a disappointing seven points behind fourth placed Leicester Tigers at the end of the year.

Bath’s Kiwi coach struggled to implement his tactical vision at the Rec having only arrived a few weeks before the curtain-raiser against Northampton Saints but was able to greatly improve his side’s discipline as they became one of the best behaved in the Premiership.

Blackadder was also able to guide the 2008 European Challenge Cup winners to memorable wins over play-off rivals Saracens and Tigers as well as eventual champions Exeter Chiefs.

But consistency remains a major issue for Blackadder with these great wins coupled with disappointing defeats at the hands of relegation battlers Bristol and Worcester as Bath search for their first title of the play-off era.

Although the departure of England international fly-half George Ford is a blow, his replacement Freddie Burns is by no means a downgrade whilst the addition of young flanker Sam Underhill also represents a tidy piece of business.

A strong squad with a good blend of youngsters, such as England under-20 captain Zack Mercer, and experience means Bath are expected to push all the way for the play-offs again.

Ins and Outs:

In:

Sam Underhill (Ospreys), Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers), Darren Allinson (London Irish), Shaun Knight (Newport Gwent Dragons), Josh Lewis (Ebbw Vale), Beno Obano (promoted from Academy), James Phillips (Bristol)

Outs:

Liam Forsyth (Wigan Warriors), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), David Denton (Worcester Warriors), Robbie Fruean (Edinburgh), Darryl Marfo (Edinburgh), Daniel Bowden (released), Dave Sisi (released)

Last season v Wasps:

Premiership Round 11: Wasps 40-26 Bath

Premiership Round 17: Bath 3-24 Wasps

Dates for the diary:

Wasps v Bath: October 1 2017; 15:00

Bath v Wasps: December 30 2017; kick-off to be confirmed

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