Aviva Premiership: Bath rue late decision as they draw with Northampton at home
Last Updated: 03/05/14 8:35am
Bath head coach Mike Ford believes his side made a statement in the 19-19 draw against Northampton, even if they couldn't quite hang on to a late lead.
With no winner at the Rec on Friday night, play-off issues are still yet to be completely resolved in the Aviva Premiership, with third-placed Bath knowing they could yet be caught by Harlequins.
"They've got a big, heavy scrum there, with two international props. They defend well and they've got exciting runners out wide - and George Ford makes them tick. But we know we're a good side as well, ball in hand."
However Ford - who saw his son, George, provide all the home side's points, including a stunning individual try - feels his squad are shaping up well with one more game to play in the regular season.
"People say we can't compete against the top two but we've shown we can," said Ford. "Physically, we did well. That was a bit of a statement from us tonight.
"We've been pleased with our pack all year but they've got a good pack too. We're playing them in the Amlin final and we could possibly meet them in the play-off semi-finals as well. They're a good side, and in the first 25 minutes they had us under a lot of pressure.
"We went in at half-time pretty happy at 6-6 but we should have seen the game out tonight."
Ford felt a draw was about right, even if he thought Bath were going to get the chance to win it at the death when Courtney Lawes was flagged by touch judge Ashley Rowden for a late hit.
However referee Matthew Carley over-ruled his fellow official after checking the TV replay, meaning honours ended even.
"I think it was a fair result but we're disappointed with that last play because the referee put his arm out and we took the snap drop goal, thinking we had the penalty," Ford added.
"We are massively disappointed with the use of the TMO but at the same time we shouldn't have conceded the penalty which made it 19-19."
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder echoed the sentiments of his opposite number and knows Saints will be in for another tough task when they face Bath again in the Amlin Challenge Cup final.
"I think the result was probably just about fair. I'm not going to criticise the referee. It's a difficult job, isn't it - I couldn't do it," he said.
"They've got a big, heavy scrum there, with two international props. They defend well and they've got exciting runners out wide - and George Ford makes them tick. But we know we're a good side as well, ball in hand.
"It was a close contest and when we play them again in the Amlin Cup final it's going to be equally as close.
"I was a little bit disappointed with some of our play, to be honest. We put ourselves under pressure getting out of our half. We weren't as accurate as we should have been.
"We should have kicked the ball off the field but we didn't, and gave them opportunities to counter-attack.
"We defended very well generally but we gave them two or three easy kicks at goal. In the big games, we need to improve."