Academy Manager Craig Lilley believes Bath Rugby Under-18s’ near seven-hour round trip to Truro on Saturday will help form bonds within the group.
The junior Blue, Black and Whites head to Cornwall to take on Exeter Chiefs in their third match of four matches in a five-week period.
Having begun the block with a rewarding West Country derby win over Bristol Bears before producing a brilliant second-half performance at Leicester Tigers, the Under-18s now face a different challenge with a long journey on the day of the game.
Being in a confined space with each other for a prolonged period of travelling will present the opportunity for the players to get to know each other better and form relationships off the field which will hopefully benefit them on it.
“It is a chance for the boys to have conversations with each other whether that’s about the game or their personal lives,” Lilley said.
“Having a better knowledge of your teammates and building friendships is important for chemistry on the field. The boys have done well in the first two games together and that unity will stand them in good stead for the future.”
He continued: “It is the similar for the coaches, too. We are able to reflect on the game at length on the return journey from Truro whilst having the opportunity to catch up with any players to give them immediate feedback using the footage from the match. A lot of what we do is about building relationships. It’s a chance to enjoy each other’s company on the trip there and back which are just as important as the moments on the field.
“We see this game as another positive step for everyone after a year of hard work.”
Exeter’s first meaningful outing for over a year ended in a resounding 55-20 win over Worcester Warriors at the beginning of May and followed up with a narrow away victory at Bristol.
Lilley was pleased how Bath adapted tactically last time out whilst identifying creativity and building pressure in the middle third as the main work on for the squad, and he is looking forward to seeing his side put that into practice against a well-drilled Chiefs outfit.
“Following the Leicester game, we have worked on moving the ball from edge to edge and talked about how to put sides under more pressure defensively by playing to space with quick ball. We’ve been pretty consistent once we’ve got into the final third, but our aim is to be more creative in the midfield to keep the opposition guessing on what will come next.
“Exeter have produced two good results so far and are playing some good rugby so it will be a good challenge for the lads.”
Bath Rugby Under-18s have made eight changes for the trip to Exeter Chiefs.
With Jasper Spandler sidelined through injury, Jac Therrien is promoted to hooker with Mackenzie Graham captaining the side from blindside flanker.
Ciaran Donoghue switches from inside centre to full-back while Ethan Hawtin swaps the 13 shirt for the 12 jersey and partners Will Parry in the midfield.
Ben Adams is a new addition to the back three which also contains Max Ashton. Fly-half Sam Harris is joined by scrum-half Ieuan Davies in the half-back slots.
Archie Maggs takes his place at tighthead once again with JJ O’Connell-Wozniak completing the front row. Josh Dingley and Tom Ahl also start for the second game running while Henry Blake and Arthur Green are fresh faces in the pack.
Bath Rugby U18 side to face Exeter Chiefs U18
15. Ciaran Donoghue, 14. Ben Adams, 13. Will Parry, 12. Ethan Hawtin, 11. Max Ashton, 10. Sam Harris, 9. Ieuan Davies; 1. JJ O’Connell-Wozniak, 2. Jac Therrien, 3. Archie Maggs, 4. Henry Blake, 5. Josh Dingley, 6. Mackenzie Graham (c), 7. Tom Ahl, 8. Arthur Green
16. Max Pearce, 17. Ellis Baker, 18. Kobi Joyce, 19. George Shaw, 20. Archie McKibben, 21. Freddie Charles, 22. James Redman, 23. Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, 24. Kacey Pike