Preview: Bath v Saracens

Date published: December 2 2016

Five of Bath's international contingent have returned to the starting line-up for their Premiership match-up with Saracens.

Dave Attwood, Luke Charteris, Taulupe Faletau, Kahn Fotauli’i and Semesa Rokoduguni all start for the West Country side after their international appearances with England, Wales and Samoa.

Rokoduguni takes his place on the right wing, with Aled Brew named on the left. Ben Tapuai and Max Clark maintain their midfield partnership, with Tom Homer continuing at full-back. Fotuali’i joins Dan Bowden in the half-backs.

Max Lahiff comes in on the tighthead alongside Tom Dunn at hooker and Nathan Catt at loosehead, with the international duo of Charteris and Attwood combining to provide the power from the second row. Faletau comes in at number eight for his third appearance in the Blue, Black and White, with Matt Garvey shifting to the blindside and Tom Ellis remaining on the openside.

Director of Rugby, Todd Blackadder, is looking forward to the game. “We’re excited to get out and play tomorrow. We’ve prepared well this week, the boys have worked really hard and it should be a great contest right across the park.

“It’s been great having the international guys available for the game – they give us a bit of extra experience in key positions which always comes in handy!”

Meanwhile, Maro Itoje returns from injury for Saracens this weekend. Itoje is back with the England international making his first appearance since injuring his right hand against Scarlets in October. 

Itoje, 22, will line-up alongside Jim Hamilton at lock forward with Mike Rhodes reverting to his familiar role of blindside flanker to join Schalk Burger (openside flanker) and Jackson Wray (number eight ) in the Sarries back row.

Elsewhere in the pack, Titi Lamositele starts at loosehead prop with Schalk Brits (hooker) and Juan Figallo (tighthead prop) in the front row.

In the backs, Saracens welcome back Sean Maitland to the squad after his time away with Scotland. Maitland lines up on the right wing and will be joined by Alex Goode (full-back) and Chris Wyles (left wing) in the Saracens back-three. 

At centre, Nick Tompkins rotates with Marcelo Bosch to start at outside centre to partner skipper Brad Barritt whilst in the halves Ben Spencer comes into the side at scrum-half to dovetail with fly-half Alex Lozowski.

Form: Bath’s single point defeat at Harlequins on Sunday ended a four game winning run in the Premiership and also doubled their tally of losses in the tournament this season. Bath have won their last six home games at the Recreation Ground in the Premiership since Saracens beat them ' only other away defeat this season came in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on a trip to Gloucester. Saracens have lost just one of their last 13 encounters with Bath stretching back to 2010 – 11-21 at the Recreation Ground in October 2014. Saracens have been victorious on six of their last seven visits to Bath. 

The teams:

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tom Ellis, 6 Matt Garvey (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Jack Wilson

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Titi Lamositele
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Nathan Earle

Date: Saturday, December 3
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 12:15 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Roger Baileff
TMO: Rowan Kitt