After defeat to Bristol Bears in the opening round of the Gallagher Premiership, Charlie Ewels was delighted with the reaction on Friday night at the Rec.
Ewels led Bath Rugby to a 13-10 victory over last year’s finalists Exeter Chiefs, and was pleased with the way the team bounced back from the performance at Ashton Gate.
The Bath Rugby captain said: “The result is great, but for me it’s more about the performance. I can take losing in this league, because it’s hugely competitive, but it’s more the manner of the performance (against Bristol). We didn’t show ourselves and what we’re about - if you don’t compete and don’t perform in this league, you’re never going to win. We weren’t accurate, but those are the things that we did right against Exeter.”
A large travelling support made their way to Bristol for the Gallagher Premiership opener and Ewels was keen to deliver a performance not only for them, but also Academy player Max McMullen, who tragically passed away.
“There were a number of things about the game – being back at the Rec in front of our fans was one of them. e Things get put into perspective – there was the horrible news we got on Monday about Max, which was devastating. The senior boys had never met him, but he was one of us. Things like that happen and suddenly you take a step back and you say alright we lost a rugby match but what are we going to do about. What are we going to stand for as men, what are we going to stand for as blokes and that is how we performed.”
The Blue, Black and White spent large periods of the first half defending their own try line, and Ewels admits it was those key moments, which saw the team over line under the Friday night lights.
“There were probably eight or nine big moments and that defensive effort was one of them. We drop a kick-off and we made them work for 12 minutes to get their score and that sets the tone. We weren’t going to give them anything easy – there was also the scrum with six minutes to go on their put in and Zach’s tackle that was a huge moment. We spoke before the game about how the next play is the most important play and that’s the kind of mind-set we were trying to attack it with not just when they were five metres out or vice versa.”
Ewels was also integral to the decision to opt for the scrum instead of the routine kick at goal, which paid dividends in securing the points at the Rec.
“It was one of those where we had a chat. We had 1:34 on the clock and you’ve got 60 seconds to kick your goal. But then you give 30 seconds of you catching the ball and potentially give them the ascendancy. Or you back your scrum, which we did and even if they turn the ball over, they’ve got to go 95 metres to score points. You’ve got to remember that you’re in the lead and they’re the ones under pressure. You don’t want to ever put any more pressure on yourselves. Back yourself to hold the ball like we did or defend the 95 metres.”