Play-offs give Ford new focus with in-form Bath

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Mike Ford admits Bath would have taken a top-six Aviva Premiership finish at the start of this season but that has now been overtaken by realistic play-off ambitions.

Bath host Wasps today knowing that victory would keep them in third place with just seven league games left.

They might be 10 points behind second-placed Saracens and 11 adrift of leaders Northampton, but the west country club are unquestionably genuine title contenders.

“They (Northampton and Saracens) will be tough to catch – I wish we had a 10-point lead – but there have been a few wobbles out there,” said Bath head coach Ford.

“Leicester just got through their last two games, Saracens lost to London Irish and we had a scare at Exeter, so it could easily all happen again this weekend.

“We would have taken top six right at the beginning of the season, but where we are now we want to get to the play-offs.

“If you get into that, it’s then a straight shoot-out. And if we are away from home, we will take that. You can work it out, saying over the last five years you need an average number of points to get into the play-offs. I’ve done that in the past and I’ve probably got it on my laptop, but I’ve not done that for ages.

“We’ve prided ourselves on just getting better every day, and this is the next game. We still think we are improving, but we’ve not won anything. It’s extremely tight, and we have just got to keep doing what we are doing.”

Wasps arrive at the Recreation Ground on the back of a home defeat against London Irish that irked rugby director David Young.

Wasps went down to a 23-20 loss, despite Irish playing most of the second half with 14 men after scrum-half Tomas O’Leary was sent off for stamping.

“Last weekend was not an acceptable performance for us,” said Young. “This group have set much higher standards than that consistently this season, having won eight games from 11 in all competitions before last week.”

Tomorrow’s Premiership action sees Northampton visit Newcastle, with Saracens hosting Exeter and London Irish tackling Madejski Stadium visitors Leicester.

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