Mike Ford admits Bath’s comfortable 45-14 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish put a line under the Sam Burgess era at the Rec as attention now turns to a heavyweight European clash with Toulon.
A Brendan McKibbin first-half red card ensured a comfortable afternoon for the visitors, who had crossed through Leroy Houston in the 15th minute.
In a feisty first period Ollie Devoto and Alafoti Fa’osiliva were sin-binned for Bath but both notched tries before the afternoon was out.
Kyle Eastmond and new signings Rhys Priestland and Nikola Matawalu also scored to cap a trying week for Bath, who saw cross-code convert Burgess end his experiment with rugby union by returning to the NRL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“We’re pleased after everything that’s happened, we got some good tries from the backs and looking forward to Toulon now,” said Ford.
“We couldn’t handle their drive, I think the discipline of our defence was poor, and then the turning point (McKibbin’s red card) was massive. That turnaround is good fortune for us, bad luck for them.
“We were the best disciplined side last year and had the least sin-bins in the competition, but how many sin bins have we had this year already?”
Ford also admitted Burgess’ departure came out of the blue.
“Myself and Stuart Hooper spoke to (Burgess) on Monday, he said he would address the team and at no point did he mention he wanted to leave,” he added.
“Whether I was naive or not I was hoping that he’d get through that week, but we never got that chance.”