Preview: Bath v London Irish

Date published: April 23 2015

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Bath are boosted by the return from injury of key players for Friday's Premiership match against London Irish at the Recreation Ground.

Captain Stuart Hooper and inside centre Kyle Eastmond have both recovered to take part in the club's penultimate home match of the regular season.

Paul James, Rob Webber and Kane Palma-Newport make up the front-row, with Hooper and Dominic Day in the second-row.

Meanwhile, Sam Burgess starts his second Premiership match at blindside flanker, with openside Francois Louw and number eight Leroy Houston alongside him.

Peter Stringer and George Ford are named in the half-backs, and starting in the midfield for the sixteenth match this season are dynamic duo Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph.

Bath's back three of full-back Anthony Watson and wings Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan – all of whom scored in Bath's last outing, the 29-19 victory against Newcastle Falcons – will be looking to continue their fine form.

Meanwhile, London Irish head coach, Glenn Delaney, has made one personnel change and a positional change to the starting XV that beat Sale 25-23.

Tom Court, David Paice and Richard Palframan pack down in the front-row for the second consecutive game with George Skivington forming the second-row partnership with Jebb Sinclair who moves forward from the back-row. Luke Narraway comes into the back-row alongside Blair Cowan and Tom Guest.

Darren Allinson, who was a late call up to the starting line-up last time out, is joined by Chris Noakes in the half backs and Fergus Mulchrone and Eoin Griffin continue their partnership in the centre. Alex Lewington, Topsy Ojo and Andrew Fenby make up the back three.

Delaney said: “The team performed well and showed great spirit against Sale and deserve another run out. Bath are in outstanding form and have threats all over the park so we will have to be at our very best to have a chance at getting a result.”

Form: Bath have won their last three Premiership matches and have obtained a try bonus-point in the last two. Bath's only defeat this season at the Recreation Ground in the Premiership came at the hands of reigning champions Northampton on 21st February. London Irish have suffered just one defeat in their last four Premiership clashes: 20-26 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop in round 17. The Exiles have been victorious just once on the road in the tournament since round 4: 50-12 at struggling London Welsh on 28th February. Bath have won their last four fixtures against London Irish, whilst the Exiles solitary victory in their last ten encounters with Bath was 29-22 at Madejski Stadium in September 2012. London Irish have not won at the Recreation Ground since a 16-0 victory in November 2009.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Sam Burgess, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Matt Garvey, 21 Carl Fearns, 22 Chris Cook, 23 Ollie Devoto.

Irish: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Fergus Mulchrone, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 George Skivington (c), 3 Richard Palframan, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.

Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Jamie Hagan, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Sean Cox, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Eamonn Sheridan.

Date: Friday, April 24
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Graham Hughes

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