Preview: Bath v Northampton

Date published: February 20 2015

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A potential dress rehearsal for the Premiership final will take place at the Rec on Saturday as Bath host Northampton.

Earlier in the year Saints proved comfortably too strong for Bath at Franklin's Gardens, but second-placed Bath will be keen to turn the tables on home soil.

With both teams deprived of a number of key players on international duty and through injury, it will be interesting to see if the Northampton maul, which really proved the difference earlier this season, is as effective.

In terms of team news Ross Batty and Semesa Rokoduguni are in line to reach milestones for Bath in the game.

Rokoduguni lines up on the wing for his 50th appearance, whilst if hooker Batty is called on from the bench he will make his 100th appearance in the Blue, Black and White.

Olly Woodburn starts on the opposite wing with Tom Homer, fresh from his debut last weekend, named at full-back. Kyle Eastmond and Sam Burgess link up in the midfield once more, as Ollie Devoto partners Micky Young in the half-backs.

Paul James returns from international duty to join Rob Webber and Henry Thomas up front, and Stuart Hooper and Dominic Day combine in the second row. Carl Fearns starts at number eight, with Matt Garvey and Francois Louw on either flank in a powerful back row.

For Saints Lee Dickson returns to the starting XV to lead the side out at the Rec, the scrum-half’s inclusion one of three changes to the team that beat London Irish 15-9 last Friday evening.

The other pair come in the pack, Gareth Denman starting on the tighthead and James Craig coming into the second row, accommodated by Samu Manoa’s switch to the blindside flank.

Form: Bath’s last four matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day whilst in Premiership Rugby they have not been defeated at The Rec since Sale made the trip south on 28 March 2014. Northampton Saints have lost just one of their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters: 7-20 at Sale in their most recent away game in the tournament. Bath’s only victory over Northampton in their last nine fixtures in all tournaments was 46-14 in a pool game in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in January 2012, whilst their most recent victory over the Saints in Premiership Rugby came at The Rec in February 2011.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Sam Burgess, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Ollie Devoto, 9 Micky Young, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Alafoti Faosiliva, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Luke Arscott

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Gareth Denman, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Teimana Harrison, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ahsee Tuala

Date: Saturday, February 21
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Keith Lewis

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