It is not only raining but pouring for Bath. For weeks they have been struggling to find a win. Now they are struggling to field a senior team.
Northampton ran in six tries as Bath sank to nine defeats from nine league matches this season and by half-time they had lost their half-back pairing of Danny Cipriani and Ben Spencer to injuries.
Their woes began before the first whistle sounded, with their lock Josh McNally withdrawing during the warm-up. Cipriani left the field for a head-injury assessment and never returned, Spencer went off with a serious-looking problem to his right arm and in the second half the lock Mike Williams was forced off after a blow to his head.
With such a long injury list, it was not what Bath wanted – especially with a date to face Leinster in the Champions Cup next Saturday.
“It’s very early to tell but they are all relatively significant injuries, I would suggest,” said Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper. “Sometimes you look at things and think ‘What’s going on?’ But I will never let anybody say a word against the application that the players showed.”
Bath’s last win in the Premiership was when Northampton visited The Rec in June, and apart from a brief wobble at the start of the second half this did not look like an occasion when Bath were going to break their duck.
Not that the Northampton director of rugby was ecstatic with his side’s display. “Our performance was probably only six out of 10,” said Chris Boyd, whose side now sit third in the table.
“We did well enough to get a good victory but it certainly wasn’t vintage.”
Indeed, Saints were wasteful in attack at times and had they been more ruthless it would have been an even grimmer afternoon for Hooper and Co.
Bath are in a very public search for a defence coach and the opening 15 minutes provided compelling evidence of the need for that appointment. Saints found space down the wings far too easily. Tommy Freeman fed Rory Hutchinson for try while fans were still taking their seats, then Freeman crossed for a touchdown of his own.
How fortunate Bath were to have Sam Underhill on the field. While his team lacked coherence, the England flanker ran hard, tackled harder and polished off a lineout drive to get his team on the board.
Saints had the bonus point in the bag before half-time, with their No 8, Juarno Augustus, scoring either side of a yellow card for Williams.
Lewis Boyce salvaged an iota of respectability for Bath just before the break with a try from short range, but at 28-12 the contest already felt sealed in Saints’ favour.
The tries continued to flow after the break and Bath briefly threatened a revival. Will Stuart touched down after the hooker, Sam Matavesi, was sent to the sin-bin for offside, but Courtnall Skosan responded with two tries for the hosts to settle the home crowd’s nerves.
Boyd offered a consoling message for Hooper. “We went through a lean time last season during Covid and it’s tough being a coach and a player in that environment,” he said. “But at the end of the day they will come out of that hole.”