Preview: Bath v Sale

Date published: September 28 2012

Olly Barkley will start his final game for Bath at fly-half against Sale Sharks in their Aviva Premiership clash at the Rec on Saturday.

Olly Barkley will start his final game for Bath at fly-half against Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

Barkley, is leaving to join Top 14 side Racing Metro 92, has amassed over 230 appearances for Bath and scored over 2160 points in his time.

He re-joins Michael Claassens in the half-backs, with Stephen Donald switching to inside centre, partnering Dan Hipkiss in the midfield. Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond line up on the wings, as Nick Abendanon starts at full-back.

In the pack, David Wilson is back at tighthead, with Paul James handed the loosehead shirt.

Dave Attwood makes his first start of the season at lock, combining with captain Stuart Hooper.

“I've had an amazing time here and I've made some fantastic memories, played in some amazing teams and met some wicked people, and I leave with nothing but absolute love for this place and these people,” said Barkley.

“The task for me now is really to just concentrate on the game. It's a big occasion for me and for my family, but most important is getting four points. We need to get back on the horse after losing the last two on the bounce and have been working very hard to right the wrongs. It's not about me leaving, it's about the four points, and if I can say goodbye having helped the team to a win, then I'll be happy.”

Meanwhile, Sharks' Director of Rugby Bryan Redpath has made six changes to his side with Nick Macleod and Cillian Willis forming a new half-back partnership.

21-year-old former Leicester flanker James Doyle is set to make his senior debut for the club. 19-year-old scrum-half Nathan Fowles will make his first appearance in the Aviva Premiership if he comes off the bench. Fowles, a used replacement in the club's Amlin Challenge Cup game at C.R.La Vila last January, comes from Rochdale and gained experience with Preston Grasshoppers last season.

Will Addison returns to the squad after a two game absence, whilst Dwayne Peel, Richie Gray and Henry Thomas are ruled out through injury.

“There are opportunities for some of the younger boys in the club. It's been tough after last Friday's match and what followed at the weekend,” said Redpath.

“We're desperate to get another game under our belt because some of the parts of last week's match weren't what we expected.
“James Doyle and Nathan Fowles are two young members of the group. James has played exceptionally well for the Jets. He's come in and worked really hard to put pressure on others at the club. They both need to go out and enjoy the game as much as they can.
“Last season, Sale Sharks went to Bath on the back of a disappointing home performance and won, later going on to complete a double. As I've said, last week was unacceptable and hopefully we can show a big improvement.”

Form: Bath have slipped to a pair of losing bonus point reversals to Northampton and London Irish in recent weeks. Bath have not suffered back to back defeats at The Rec in Aviva Premiership Rugby since last December. Sale Sharks have made their poorest ever start to a league season since they lost all eleven division one matches in the inaugural season for the RFU leagues in 1987/88. Sale's most recent away win came at Gloucester on 21 April. Sale achieved the Premiership double over Bath last season for the first time since 2005/06, and are going for successive wins at The Rec for the first time in their history.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Ben Skirving, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (capt), 6 James Doyle, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Vadim Cobilas, 18 Aston Croall, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Will Addison.

Date: Saturday, September 29
Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Venue: The Rec
Referee: Sean Davey
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley, Gareth Copsey
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant