Leeds Carnegie 16-32 Bath, Aviva Premiership, September 5
Meehan immediately raises the bar
September 5, 2010
Bath's Sam Vesty skips through the Leeds defence at Headingley © Getty Images
Bath head coach Steve Meehan praised his players' attitude following the 32-16 bonus-point victory at Aviva Premiership rivals Leeds but immediately demanded a big improvement next time out.
Meehan's men rarely hit the heights expected of them this season but still took their chances in clinical fashion and were certainly too good for their hosts. Fullback Nick Abendanon touched down in the first half before Sam Vesty, Matt Carraro and captain Luke Watson added further scores after the break to secure the maximum five-point haul.
"Yes, we got give points away from home but the performance is something that we need to improve on," said Meehan. "Our set-piece must get better but when your work ethic is high and you're determined to perform, you've still got a chance of winning. From an attitude point of view we were very happy."
Meehan also paid tribute to Matt Banahan after his impressive performance in the centres alongside Shontayne Hape. The 23-year-old wing switched positions after Olly Barkley withdrew through injury before kick-off. Banahan's powerful running and silky handling underpinned Bath's victory in Barkley's absence and left Meehan signing his praises.
"Matt is a big powerful player and I think he's going to develop into an outside centre," added Meehan. "He's got great technique and a great offloading game. We saw that today and he's quite happy to make some outrageous passes and they tend to come off.
"He did well defensively too and I thought he and Shontayne established a good partnership. I see Matt playing there quite a bit this season."
Meehan added that Barkley was nursing a thumb injury and will be fit for action next week.
Leeds were outclassed but at least had the consolation of a bonus point from England hooker Steve Thompson on his debut. Director of rugby Andy Key urged his side to cut out their errors and admitted Bath showed their class with three second-half tries.
Key - who lost fly-half Ceiron Thomas to a shoulder injury in the second half - said: "We felt very strong at half-time and the chat in the changing room was very positive. We were disappointed in the first half that we made so many chances but turned the ball over too easily.
"That was really the crux of it and in the second half a different Bath side came out. We knew that would happen because they are past masters at turning games around. We knew that we would have to be stronger and we weren't. We cannot go on making those mistakes that we did today.
"Our defence has worked for us favourably in the past. We'll look at what happened today as teething problems and we'll fix them. It's the first game of the season and there are no worries from our side, but we cannot keep giving away tries like that."