Bath second row not second rate

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 04/01/06 11:50am

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As captain of Leeds Tykes, Stuart Hooper has faced plenty of tough challenges over the past year, but the influential lock insists Sunday's clash with Bath will top everything.

Hooper will come face-to-face with the most feared second row partnership in the Premiership at Headingley, and he admits that Danny Grewcock and Steve Borthwick are the best in the business.

"Grewcock and Borthwick are the two form second rows in the Premiership. They have played really well for Bath and have carried that on with England," stated the 24-year-old.

"You can't argue with them. They are the two leading locks in the country and it's going to be a huge challenge for us come Sunday.

"I worked with Grewcock at Saracens so I know he's a thorough professional. From what I hear, Borthwick is the same sort of character. They are both great individual players with a high level of professionalism and together they make a top duo.

"It'd be fantastic if whoever plays in the Leeds second-row - whether it be me and Tom or anyone, can forge a partnership of that standard.

"That could only be good news for Tykes as a pairing like Grewcock and Borthwick could only bring great results. That's what you want."

The duo are the undoubted dangermen in a Bath side that has flattered to deceive this season, overcoming all before them in the cup competitions whilst winning just three out of 11 matches in the league.

Tries have proved hard to come by, prompting the West Country club to call on the services of Brian Ashton to revive a backline that has failed to deliver a home try this campaign.

And whilst Hooper acknowledges the size of the forward battle that awaits his men, he believes the Tykes have a real chance of hauling themselves to within two points of their opposition on Sunday.

"We're looking for a win again. That's what we need but that is easier said than done. Everyone is working hard, pulling together and looking to go that bit extra to get the results we're after."