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BATH RUGBY: Friday night lights thrill skipper Stuart
CLUB captain Stuart Hooper believes the passions aroused by the first Bath-Gloucester derby clash of the season will only be enhanced by the ‘Friday feeling’ tonight (7.45pm).
The West Country rivals clash under floodlights in the Aviva Premiership with second row Hooper giving his seal of approval to the ‘special atmosphere’ created by an evening kick-off.
Hooper, who returned to the side as a substitute in last week’s 26-10 win over Newport Gwent Dragons in the Amlin Challenge Cup, said: “As a player it’s fantastic.
“People talk about the passion and intensity of the occasion, but it’s enjoyable too.
“In professional sport an awful lot is at stake, but enjoying what you are taking part in is very important. If you can’t be up for facing Gloucester in front of a capacity crowd at the Rec for an evening match, then what’s the point in playing?
“It’s a special atmosphere and I think the fact it is on a Friday night intensifies things a little bit. People finish up at work and then maybe head out for a couple of beers before going along to the game.’’
The match marks Bath’s return to domestic action after successive wins in Europe in the last fortnight with Hooper’s men determined to get their league campaign back on track after the disappointing reverse at Sale at the start of the month.
“It’s important to keep learning and we did learn the lessons after the Sale game,’’ he added.
“We know what went wrong there and what we need to do to put it right “I’m pleased with how the squad are progressing at this time. There are always going to be mistakes and slipups along the way and it’s how you come back from them and react to them that takes you forward.
“With all respect to (Italian side) Mogliano, Bordeaux and Dragons were probably two of our most difficult (European) games first up.
“I’ve played at Bordeaux a few times over the years and it’s always difficult and against the Dragons, I thought we controlled it well in the second half in some pretty rough conditions.’’
Gloucester’s own start to the season has been patchy, home defeats to Sale and Exeter the low points while victories against Perpignan in Europe and Northampton, as well as a defiant performance in Heineken Cup defeat at Munster last weekend demonstrated their ability.
Hooper added: “You shouldn’t pay much attention to the league so far because we’ve only had five games.
“They have beaten Perpignan and Northampton too recently so we know they are going to be tough.
“On these occasions, the formbook goes out of the window.’’
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