Preview: Bath v London Irish

Date published: December 30 2011

Bath have made six changes to their side for the Aviva Premiership New Year's Day clash with London Irish at the Rec.

Bath have made six changes to their side for the Aviva Premiership New Year's Day clash with London Irish at the Rec.

Dan Hipkiss, Tom Biggs and Simon Taylor all return to the home starting XV.

Taylor lines up alongside Andy Beattie and Francois Louw in the back row, as Dave Attwood and Ryan Caldwell continue in the second row. Ross Batty starts at hooker, with Nathan Catt and Anthony Perenise packing down either side in the front row.

Stephen Donald and Michael Claassens continue to build their half-back partnership, and Nick Abendanon remains at full-back. Dan Hipkiss comes in at outside centre, partnering Matt Banahan, who shifts inside from the wing. Tom Biggs is named on the wing, with Matt Carraro starting on the opposite side.

On the bench, there is a welcome return from injury for Ben Skirving, and Kyle Eastmond could make his first appearance in Bath colours if called on.

Meanwhile, Nick Kennedy will return to the London Irish second row.

Kennedy is one of three changes from the starting side that triumphed over Exeter Chiefs at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday. James Buckland and England international, Alex Corbisiero, both come into the front row to partner Paulica Ion. Declan Danaher will captain the side from the back row.

Form: It's now four straight losses for Bath in Aviva Premiership Rugby – they haven't lost five in a row in the tournament since season 2001/02. Bath have slipped to defeat in three of their last four games at The Rec. London Irish maintained third place in the table with their 29-22 victory over Exeter at Madejski Stadium, but away from home have won just twice in the Premiership in the past 14 months: against Sale at Bolton and at Northampton. The Exiles have won only one of their last nine encounters with Bath since 2008: 16-0 at The Rec on 28 November 2009.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Will Tanner, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 David Wilson, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Kyle Eastmond.

London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Joe Ansbro, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Tom Homer, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Richard Thorpe 7 Jamie Gibson 6 Declan Danaher (c) 5 Bryn Evans 4 Nick Kennedy 3 Paulica Ion 2 James Buckland 1 Alex Corbisiero
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Clarke Dermody, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Adam Thompstone, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Paul Hodgson.

Date: Sunday, January 1
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 13.30
Referee: Martin Fox