Ford: Saints draw Bath 'statement'
6:44am Saturday 3rd May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Bath head coach Mike Ford was pleased with the way his side met the physical challenge of Northampton as the match finished honours even at 19-19 at the Recreation Ground.
"People say we can't compete against the top two but we've shown we can," said Ford, who must prepare his team to face Saints again not just once but perhaps twice in the next month.
"Physically, we did well. That was a bit of a statement from us tonight.
"We've been pleased with our pack all year but they've got a good pack too. We're playing them in the Amlin final and we could possibly meet them in the play-off semi-finals as well. They're a good side, and in the first 25 minutes they had us under a lot of pressure.
"We went in at half-time pretty happy at 6-6 but we should have seen the game out tonight."
Ford added: "I think it was a fair result but we're disappointed with that last play because the referee put his arm out and we took the snap drop goal, thinking we had the penalty.
"We are massively disappointed with the use of the TMO but at the same time we shouldn't have conceded the penalty which made it 19-19."
Bath earned the draw despite finishing the game without a hooker, following injuries to Rob Webber and his replacement Ross Batty.
Ford added: "I am really proud of the lads, because they had to face a lot of adversity out there. The scrums were pretty good and we got on top there. Even when Nathan Catt had to go to hooker, we got on top again - and they opted for a line-out rather than a scrum.
"If we have to go to Harlequins and get a result that's what we'll try to do. It's amazing - it's going to come down to the last game and we've been in the top four all year, 75% of that time we've been third."
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said: "I think the result was probably just about fair. I'm not going to criticise the referee. It's a difficult job, isn't it - I couldn't do it."
On Bath, he said: "They've got a big, heavy scrum there, with two international props. They defend well and they've got exciting runners out wide - and George Ford makes them tick. But we know we're a good side as well, ball in hand.
"It was a close contest and when we play them again in the Amlin Cup final it's going to be equally as close.
"I was a little bit disappointed with some of our play, to be honest. We put ourselves under pressure getting out of our half. We weren't as accurate as we should have been.
"We should have kicked the ball off the field but we didn't, and gave them opportunities to counter-attack.
"We defended very well generally but we gave them two or three easy kicks at goal. In the big games, we need to improve."
Mallinder praised Stephen Myler's contribution, saying: "It wasn't just his kicks, but lovely sleight of hand to set up the try as well. And I think the conversion from that try was very important. He's done it all season for us and hopefully will continue to do it."