Bath Rugby: Why George Ford Is the Key to a Trip to the Premiership Final

Jack Fairs@fairzy7Contributor IIIApril 22, 2014

BATH, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  George Ford of Bath passes the ball during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath and Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on March 28, 2014 in Bath, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Bath Rugby currently sit in third position in the Premiership, tied with Leicester Tigers on 64 points. With only two games left in the West Country club's push for the playoffs, young fly-half George Ford will be the key in taking the side to Twickenham.

Ford is the top points-scorer in the Aviva Premiership, racking up 215 points in 19 games for Bath, in a season where the 2011 IRB Young Player of the Year has come of age. The 21-year-old moved to link up with his dad, and Bath coach, Mike Ford in the summer and has been rewarded with ample game time and two full England caps this Spring.

His new club Bath are developing one of the most refined attacking games in the Premiership, and Ford is pivotal in its execution. He has been at the heart of all Bath's best moments in this campaign, marshalling their fearsome forward pack well and unleashing their impressive array of backs when the opportunities arise. For a young player, his decision-making is of the highest quality.

The trademark of Ford's game is his willingness to carry the ball to the defensive line, spotting a weakness and timing his pass to perfection to send a runner to exploit it. With Bath boasting bruising ball-carriers such as Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni, even the best defences will struggle to stop them once they latch onto a George Ford delayed pass.

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Ford is not just an expert passer of the ball. His kicking game will be crucial in putting Bath in dangerous positions in their two tricky remaining Premiership games against fellow playoff contenders Northampton and Harlequins. A rare poor day from the kicking tee against Sale at the Rec in March showed that when Ford struggles, Bath struggle.

With Saracens and Northampton favourites to take the two home semi-final spots, Ford and Bath will have to take the tougher route to Twickenham. Bath will surely have to beat Harlequins away to secure their play-off place and to avoid an away tie against the unstoppable Saracens in the semis.  

While not the biggest fly-half, Ford's defence is also up there with the best in his position, according to World Cup winner and Mirror columnist Matt Dawson. These tackling skills will be closely examined in the tussle to reach Twickenham, but Ford has so far shown that he is up to the challenge.

Added to all these skills, Ford's footwork and his eye for a gap makes it clear that he is verging on being the complete package. The only remaining question marks surrounding George Ford are whether he can demonstrate his undoubted talent in the crucial matches. With Bath's tough run of fixtures, now is the time for Ford to answer those questions and take his team to Twickenham.