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Moody returns as Bath rout Saints

21 February 2011

  • Moody makes successful return from injury as Bath beat Northampton
  • Matt Banahan scores three in 38-8 victory at the Rec
Lewis Moody makes his return from injury in Bath's 38-8 victory over Northampton

Photo: Getty Images

Bath boss Steve Meehan says Lewis Moody is ready to start for England against France on Saturday after his return to action against Northampton at the weekend.

Moody made a 23-minute appearance as Bath routed Saints 38-8 at The Rec in the Aviva Premiership, and Meehan believes he is fit enough to return to the England XV at Twickenham.

Moody missed the RBS 6 Nations wins over Wales and Italy through injury, and has had limited action in the last five weeks. But Meehan insists he would not be surprised to see the skipper line up against Les Bleus.

"Martin Johnson hinted at it in the week when he said that guys who have been around for ten years with 70 caps have credits in the bank," said Meehan.

"If he is fit enough, and as captain, I wouldn't be surprised if he ran out against France."

Moody said he was delighted to be back, emerging unscathed from his first appearance since he was injured during Bath's Heineken Cup clash against Italian side Aironi last month.

Moody excited to return to England camp

"I felt good. It is nice to have a run-out," he said.

"The knee is a little bit stiff, but I didn't feel it at all during the game. Fingers crossed, we have gone through everything, and full credit to the physios for everything they've done.

"Everyone has worked very hard and I am going to be an excitable boy to be back in the England camp tomorrow.

"It is a decision for the week. It is nice to be fit and getting out on to the pitch and having some game-time. I was a little bit nervous, not for the knee, but just to be back out there and playing."

Another England star grabbigng the headlines for Bath was Matt Banahan, with a hat-trick of tries during the side's emphatic victory.

On Banahan's display, Meehan added: "He certainly sent a message to the England coaches. Today was a good illustration of what he is about."

A delighted Banahan was quick to offer praise elsewhere though, as Bath made it seven wins from their last eight starts in all competitions.

Matt Banahan praises team effort after hat-trick

Matt Banahan races clear to score his third try for Bath against Northampton

Photo: Getty Images

"I thought some of the forwards were outstanding, they really put the hard yards in," he said.

"Rugby is a game you are always learning about, and it is about giving myself the best opportunity in a game."

It was Saints' fourth successive league loss, and rugby director Jim Mallinder did not use the 20-minute delay to the start as an excuse.

"It wasn't ideal," he said, "but professional players have got to cope with different things. It did not affect the outcome of the game.

"If you let Bath get on the front foot, they've got a really good offloading game, and when Matt Banahan has a game like that, they are very difficult to stop.

"We were all at sea. The players know they played badly. They have come off second best after a bad day at the office."

Sky Sports