Preview: Bath v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: November 14 2014

Stuart Hooper and Jonathan Joseph return to Bath’s starting side for Saturday’s clash with Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground.

Stuart Hooper and Jonathan Joseph return to Bath’s starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground.

Club captain Hooper takes his place in the second-row alongside Dominic Day, with Charlie Ewels shifting to the blindside flank for his Premiership debut. David Sisi and Leroy Houston form the rest of the back-row at openside and number eight respectively. The powerful young front-row of Nathan Catt, Ross Batty and Henry Thomas continues.

Micky Young partners Gavin Henson once more in the half-backs, as Joseph is named at outside centre with Ollie Devoto on the inside. Matt Banahan shifts out to the wing, with Olly Woodburn lining up on the opposite side and Luke Arscott completing the team at fullback.

Amongst the replacements, there is a welcome return to Matt Garvey, who could make his first appearance this season if called upon from the bench.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have named a side showing four changes from their LV= Cup defeat to Cardiff Blues.

In the backs, Simon Hammersley replaces Alex Tait at full-back while Sinoti Sinoti comes in on the right wing for Noah Cato.

Sinoti’s countryman Alex Tuilagi occupies the right wing jersey for a third consecutive start while the partnerships between Gonzalo Tiesi and Adam Powell in the centres and Juan Pablo Socino and Ruki Tipuna in the half-backs are again given an opportunity to flourish.

In the forwards, George McGuigan makes his first start since September following a successful comeback from injury last weekend which sees Bobby Vickers move across to the Loose Head prop berth.

Callum Green and Dom Barrow will continue to form the second row partnership for the match while in the back row, Andy Saull and Mark Wilson continue at openside flanker and number eight respectively, while on the blindside, Sean Robinson makes his Aviva Premiership debut in his second start of the season.

On the bench, Scott Lawson returns following his involvement in Scotland’s 41-31 win over Argentina at Murrayfield to provide front row cover alongside Alex Rogers and Oliver Tomasczyzck.

The Scottish flavour to the bench continues with Scott Macleod, Ally Hogg and Mike Blair all ready to make an impact when required, before the replacements as rounded out by Rory Clegg and Alex Tait.

Form: Bath’s only victory in their last five matches in all tournaments was 47-7 at home to London Welsh in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 1st October. Bath are unbeaten in their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures played at The Rec since Sale were the visitors in March. Newcastle Falcons have won their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches against Exeter and London Welsh and have not won three in a row in the competition since March 2009. The Falcons have won two of their last three away games in all competitions. Newcastle’s only victory over Bath in their last 18 encounters since 2004 was 27-16 at The Rec in Premiership Rugby on 24th October 2009.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Micky Young, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Sisi, 6 Charlie Ewels, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Max Northcote-Green, 22 Chris Cook, 23 Richard Lane.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Juan Pablo Socino, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull (c), 6 Sean Robinson, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Callum Green, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Alex Rogers, 17 Scott Lawson, 18 Oliver Tomasczyzk, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Mike Blair, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Alex Tait.

Date: Saturday, 15 November
Venue: Recreation Ground, Bath
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referee: Andrew Pearce, Simon McConnell