Preview: Bath v Leicester

Date published: March 8 2012

Bath will do battle with traditional rivals Leicester Tigers on Friday in the first of the weekend's LV=Cup semi-finals.

Bath will do battle with traditional rivals Leicester Tigers on Friday for a place in the LV=Cup Final.

Games against the Tigers are always fierce encounters producing some gripping and gritty rugby from both sides. This game will be no different and the prospect of silverware will add further spice into the mix.

With a try bonus point in each LV=Cup game so far this season, Bath have scored 24 tries so far in the competition, with perhaps the pick of the bunch being Anthony Perenise's barnstorming 40 metre try against Northampton Saints.

Perenise's retun to the Bath matchday squad – on the bench – is the only change to the 23-man gorup that secured a bonus point victory over Worcester Warriors in the Premiership last weekend.

Tom Biggs, who scored a brace against the Warriors, starts on the wing with Matt Banahan on the opposite side.

Michael Claassens, who also crossed the whitewash twice against Worcester, and Tom Heathcote start at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.

Meanwhile, Craig Newby returns to captain Leicester.

Back-rower Newby has returned to full fitness following a knee injury and has been involved in the first-team squad during the last month but makes his first start of the season on Friday.

Internationals Scott Hamilton and Horacio Agulla are included in the backline, while Alex Lewington and Andy Forsyth, who both scored tries in the vital cup win away to Harlequins in Round 3, are also given starting positions.

George Ford teams up with James Grindal in the half-back pairing with Toby Flood nowhere to bee seen.

Rob Hawkins lines up at hooker against his former club, and Tom Youngs returns after injury to take a place among the replacements alongside international front-rowers Marcos Ayerza and Logoviii Mulipola, and England Elite Player Squad member Thomas Waldrom.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Bath: 15 Sam Vesty, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Charlie Beech.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 David Flatman, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Guy Mercer, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Olly Woodburn, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Billy Twelvetreees, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 George Ford, 9 James Grindal, 8 Ben Pienaar, 7 Craig Newby (c), 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Calum Green, 3 Julian White, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Logoviii Mulipola, 19 Julian Salvi, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Friday, March 9
Venue: The Recreation Ground, Bath
Kick-off: 19.30
Referee: David Pearson