Preview: Bath v Aironi

Date published: January 14 2011

USA captain John van der Giessen will make his first Heineken Cup start on Saturday when Bath welcome Aironi to the Recreation Ground.

USA captain John van der Giessen will make his first Heineken Cup start on Saturday when Bath welcome Aironi to the Recreation Ground.

Forwards Coach Martin Haag spoke of the need for the team to keep building on their recent form, and to keep the winning momentum going.

“Our mind-set going into this weekend's game is that we need to improve on our performance week on week. We've got some big games coming up and, while it may be unlikely that we will proceed further in this competition, we want to have pride in our performance,” he said.

“We had 11 visits to the Leeds 22 on Saturday. If we can make that many visits against Aironi and finish off three or four more chances, then that's a good improvement. If we can continue to improve following our two wins at the start of the New Year, then who knows what might happen in the rest of the season.”

“Aironi are on an upward trend so it's important we get our heads around that and prepare as well as we can. They have a very strong pack, including international players, so we will need to be at our best to control them.

“They will make it difficult for us, but it's just making sure we get our processes right. We are improving on our performances week on week, and we want to keep building on those so that we have some momentum going forward, to get us back playing our best rugby.”

Aironi know that their hopes of making the knockouts are over but have still named several of their first-teamers for the clash. In the line-up are Josh Sole, Rodd Penney, Carlo del Fava, Salvatore Perugini and Matteo Pratichetti.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Olly Barkley, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Luke Watson (capt), 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 John van der Giessen, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 David Wilson, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Aironi: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 Gilberto Pavan, 13 Rodd Penney, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Matteo Pratichetti, 10 James Marshall, 9 Pablo Canavosio, 8 Gareth Krause, 7 Andrea Benatti, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Carlo del Fava, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Leo Gamboa, 2 Luigi Ferraro, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Alberto de Marchi, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Mickey Wilson, 22 Riccardo Bocchino, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti.

Date: Saturday, January 15
Venue: The Rec
Kick-off: 14.30 GMT
Referee: Neil Paterson