Preview: Bath v Harlequins

Date published: November 4 2011

This week sees Harlequins hitting the road to take on Bath at the Recreation Ground in Round Eight of the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership.

This week sees Harlequins on the road to take on Bath at the Rec in Round Eight of the Aviva Premiership.

Following last week's win against Exeter, Conor O'Shea has no further injury concerns and a number of players returning available for action.

The starting back line remains the same as that from Exeter, but Danny Care will look to make his return from injury from the bench sitting alongside Rory Clegg and Matt Hopper covering the backs.

Joe Gray comes into the front row alongside Joe Marler and James Johnston with Chris Brooker reverting to the bench.

The back five sees Olly Kohn and George Robson in familiar territory partnering in the second row; however the back row sees Maurie Fa'asavalu making his first league start of the season alongside Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter.

Luke Wallace will cover the back-row positions.

Up front, Nic Mayhew returns to the bench to cover the front row with Chris Brooker and Kyle Sinckler. Tomas Vallejos is also on the bench with Luke Wallace covering the back five.

Meanwhile, Bath have made just three changes to the starting line-up which secured victory over London Irish last weekend.

David Wilson comes into the front row to make his first start of the season, with Anthony Perenise taking his place on the bench. Nathan Catt and Lee Mears make up the remainder of the front row.

Stuart Hooper and Dave Attwood both continue in the engine room.

Further back in the pack, Francois Louw returns on the openside, joining Ben Skirving and Simon Taylor in the back row. Sam Vesty and Michael Claassens continue their half-back partnership at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.

The only other change comes in the backline, with Dan Hipkiss returning to the starting line-up and partnering Matt Carraro in the centres. Tom Biggs and Olly Woodburn feature on the wings with Nick Abendanon completing the line-up at full-back.

Form: Bath Rugby have won three successive matches in all competitions, whilst their only reversal at The Rec in their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 26-28 to Saracens on 10 September. Table topping Harlequins, with nine wins in all competitions, have made the best ever start to a season by an English top-flight side since Quins themselves won the first ten games of the 1996/97 season. Harlequins are without a win in their last three clashes with Bath, and have won just one of their last six visits to The Rec in all competitions: 19-3 in the Premiership on 4 April 2009.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Matt Carraro, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Jonston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Kyle Sickler, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Danny Care, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Matt Hopper.

Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards