RUGBY: Ford keeping his head down

George Ford

George Ford

First published in Sport

GEORGE Ford is staying focused on the present rather than looking too far ahead as he chases an England berth, according to his father and Bath head coach Mike Ford.

Uncapped fly-half George Ford pushed his claims for a place in Stuart Lancaster's match-day squad for next weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland at Twickenham with an impressive display in Saturday's 27-23 win at Exeter.

The 20-year-old kicked 12 points and showed excellent game control as he helped Bath overturn a half-time deficit to extend their 36-year unbeaten run against the Chiefs.

It was a timely reminder of Ford's talents ahead of the Ireland match, but Bath boss Mike Ford says the number 10 will not be getting carried away this coming week as he waits for his England chance.

"He said that he needed to recover well from this game and train well on Monday. That's his focus, that's all he thinks about - the next day," said the Bath coach, who was also keen to hail some of the other rising stars at his disposal.

"But it is not just about George because Kyle Eastmond is coming more into the game.

"The conditions didn't suit him that well but when he goes for the line he is just as good as George. The way that Ollie Devoto has progressed over the past 10 months has been outstanding."

Bath's victory, their 200th in the Premiership, sees them keep a grip on third place in the Aviva Premiership table and extend their long unbeaten run against the Devon side who remain eighth having lost the last four in the league.

Exeter saw their 13-10 half-time lead overtaken in the second period through tries from Eastmond and Nick Abendanon.

Ford converted both and also kicked a last-minute penalty to add to his first-half three-pointer and the conversion of Devoto's try.

The Chiefs points came through tries from Ben White and Ian Whitten with Gareth Steenson converting both as well as landing three penalties as Exeter again had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Ford admitted his side were forced to defend a lot in the first half and was full of praise for their opponents, saying: "The Exeter coaches have done a fantastic job over the past few years and their defence coach is asking more questions than any team in the country.

"If you don't defend here, then they are going to catch you out."

It was a narrow defeat for Exeter but coach Rob Baxter insists his side cannot take any consolation from that if they want to be competing at the very top of the Premiership.

He said: "We actually did some things that we haven't practised let alone talked about and they seemed to creep in to our game a little too often. I've told the guys that they have to take responsibility for that.

"If you want to be a top-flight Premiership rugby player, if you want to drive this team to regularly being in the top half and being in the top four, then you can't just wander around saying that we've had another close game.

"You have to responsibility for the little things because they are just hurting us because they [the opposition] are hurting us with big pieces of pressure.

"Someone has to stand there and taking responsibility and giving that little bit of organisation."

MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS & REACTION IN NEXT WEEK'S WILTSHIRE TIMES

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