RUGBY: Strong centre lifts Bath's hopes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Jonathan Joseph Jonathan Joseph

JONATHAN Joseph believes his centre partnership with Kyle Eastmond is only growing stronger as Bath Rugby prepare for the third serious test of their Aviva Premiership title credentials in as many weeks.

Eastmond’s first-half try put Bath 10-0 up at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend only for Northampton Saints to blow them away with six tries in recording a 43-25 victory. Bath remain third in the Aviva Premiership table – two points clear of Harlequins who they beat 14-3 courtesy of a Joseph try the week before.

And ahead of a trip to Welford Road on Sunday to face defending champions Leicester Tigers, Joseph is relishing another chance to test himself against the best.

“We’re pleased with the position we are in halfway through the season and the aim now is to push on,” said Joseph.

“I think it’s going well [with Kyle] we might not have got off to the very best of starts but over the last couple of weeks we have been influencing games a bit better.

“We’re getting to know each other better and that goes for the whole of the backline and we’ve got a greater understanding between us.”

While Joseph and Eastmond are quietly forging an alliance in midfield, fly-half George Ford has earned no end of praise for his performances.

The 20-year-old, who joined Bath from Leicester Tigers in the summer, has already contributed 130 points to the club’s cause this season – topping the rankings in the Aviva Premiership.

And ahead of Ford’s return to Welford Road this weekend, Joseph admits the England Saxon’s efforts have proved crucial this term.

“He’s a massive talent,” added Joseph. “He’s still very young but he knows the game very well and he has been great for us this season.

“For someone of his age he is really performing well and I’m sure he has a great future ahead of him.

“We know we have another big game this weekend but we feel we’re performing well and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s always a difficult place to go Welford Road but these are the games you look forward to and it is another tough game. We’ve had some big games and now this is another one for us as well.”

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