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Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 13:39 UK

Crockett calls for ruthless Bath

HEINEKEN CUP QUARTER-FINAL
Venue: Walkers Stadium Date: Saturday, 11 April Kick-off: 1800 BST Coverage: Live commentary from BBC 5 Live sports extra and BBC local radio, with score updates on the BBC Sport website


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Bath need to start winning silverware - Crockett

Captain Alex Crockett says it is time for Bath to start winning silverware.

Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final with Leicester is the first of what could be a series of knock-out matches if Bath make the Premiership play-offs.

And Crockett says Bath need to adopt a winning mentality akin to the Tigers in order to return to their glory days.

He told BBC Points West: "People talk about us being entertainers, but I'd much rather be a boring team and win games and cups than be entertainers."

Bath and Leicester dominated the domestic scene in the 1980s and early 1990s, but while the Tigers have continued to pick up titles since then, Bath's glory days are looking increasingly sepia tinted with each passing year.

Last season's European Challenge Cup broke a drought that stretched back to their Heineken Cup success in 1998, when they became the first English club to lift the trophy.

606: DEBATE
Charlie Henderson - BBC Sport

But instead of being a foundation for further future glory, that 19-18 win over Brive in Bordeaux proved a full stop. While they have won just one title in the 10 years since that success, they won a dozen in the decade before it.

"With Bath's history we need to get silverware every year almost," added Crockett.

"We need to put pressure on ourselves as players to do that. The fans, rightly so, feel that we need to deliver that every year.

"We do need to start getting a bit more consistent about that and at the moment the press are calling us one of the top two teams in the country, but we haven't won anything.

"There seems to be an edge about Bath against Leicester matches.

"When you think about derbies you think about the local clubs in terms of Bristol and Gloucester and towns right next to each other, but there's almost a derby feel against Leicester.

"The history does go back so much as the top two teams in the 80s and Leicester have been doing so well recently so there is an added spark.

"They've got players that know about that (history) and it's always a hugely physical encounter whether it's spreading the ball wide or in close. There's huge hits going either way."

Flatman promises Leicester battle

That is how it proved three years ago when the clubs met at the same stage in Europe, when Bath won 15-12 at the Walkers Stadium with a Herculean effort in the closing stages, having been reduced to 13 men.

Crockett's over-riding memory is of "defending a lot". David Flatman was one of those sent to the touchline along with fellow prop Faao Filise in the closing stages.

"I remember the ref getting it completely wrong and sending a few of us to the sin-bin," he reflects with a rueful smile.

"And I remember a manful effort from the guys, the 13 men on the field, camped on our line.

"Guys like [Martin] Corry and [Alesana] Tuilagi were smashing it up with people like Tom Cheeseman making huge tackles with one arm, already injured. It was a huge effort and that of course is what it will take this weekend to win."

Like that match, less than a score has separated the teams in their three games this season and the promise of another tight finish will increase the focus on Bath fly-half Butch James.

The South African will line up for his 80th match for club and country in a little over two years and has looked a little laboured and leggy in recent games. While that is potentially good news for the Lions, it could prove lethal to Bath's hopes.

Meehan backs James to prove critics wrong

James missed four kicks at goal in the 19-3 defeat to Harlequins last time out and his fallibility in front of the sticks has been well documented since the opening weeks of the season when he followed up a 100% kicking performance against Bristol with a ghastly array of misses in defeat at home to Gloucester.

But head coach Steve Meehan is in no doubt that James, who will have compatriot Michael Claasens returning inside him at scrum-half, will cope with the pressure.

"He enjoys it," Meehan told BBC Points West. "A lot has been made out of a few poor performances.

"But nobody's concentrated on the good ones, no-one brings those up and there's been plenty of them.

"I'm more than comfortable with giving him the kicking tee and the responsibility."

As is Crockett, who hopes James can help inspire a repeat of that dramatic Heineken Cup success in 1998 when, as a 17-year-old, he watched an "unbelievable" match unfold on television.

He reflected: "Good old Jon Callard saved us again and we could do with something similar from Butchy this Heineken campaign.

"Those were the good old days and hopefully we can bring days like this back."



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see also
Tigers are in top form - Chuter
09 Apr 09 |  Leicester
Greenwood previews Euro quarter-finals
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Leicester v Bath (Sat)
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Heineken Cup 2008/9
17 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Bath 3-19 Harlequins
04 Apr 09 |  English
Leicester 24-22 Bath
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Bath 25-21 Leicester
15 Nov 08 |  English
Bath 15-19 Leicester
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Leicester 12-15 Bath
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European rugby archive
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