Preview: Bath v Wasps

Date published: February 19 2016

Francois Louw will don the captain’s armband for Bath's Premiership clash with Wasps at the Recreation Ground.

Louw comes onto the openside flank, forming a back row combination with Leroy Houston on the blindside and Amanaki Mafi, who had an impressive debut at Sixways last weekend, at number eight.

Charlie Ewels and Dominic Day form a powerful second row partnership, with Rob Webber starting at hooker between Max Lahiff and David Wilson up front.

Chris Cook and Rhys Priestland both return to the starting line-up to pull the strings in the half-backs, and Ollie Devoto, who has been released by England, links up with Matt Banahan in the midfield.

Horacio Agulla and Semesa Rokoduguni provide the threat out wide, and Tom Homer completes the line-up at full-back.

Meanwhile, Bradley Davies, Ruaridh Jackson and Lorenzo Cittadini return from Six Nations’ duty for Wasps, with Davies lining up alongside Kearnan Myall in the second row, Jackson starting at ten and Cittadini joining the replacements.

The only other change to last Sunday’s starting XV against Saracens sees Frank Halai return on the left wing.

George Smith will again captain the side after Matt Mullan was ruled out of contention through an injury sustained in training this week.

Director of Rugby Dai Young emphasized the need to look forward if Wasps are to continue building momentum: “Sunday’s performance against Saracens was certainly one for the memory banks, but that’s where it stays. We enjoyed Sunday, but from Monday morning all focus has been on Bath and trying to replicate the levels we reached last weekend.

“We all know how tough a side Bath are to break down, especially at the Rec. It’s been nip and tuck between us this season, with them pinching a win at the Ricoh and us pinching one back at the Rec. We know each other well and both teams will be aware of the quality in each side. I’m sure Bath will want to set the record straight and make it 2-2 after our win there in Europe, so we know they will throw everything at us on Saturday. We will need to be at our absolute best again if we’re to get the result we want.”

Form: Bath's six game losing run in all tournaments ended with their 16-14 win at Worcester in Premiership Rugby on Saturday. Bath’s only victory at the Recreation Ground in any tournament since November was 21-14 in Premiership Rugby over Worcester on 27th December. Wasps are the best team in Aviva Premiership Rugby on current form having gained 19 league points from their last six encounters. Wasps have won their last four games in the competition and have not won five in a row since season 2012/13. The two clubs have already met on three occasions this season with Wasps victorious in the Premiership Rugby meeting at Ricoh Arena in October and then each side winning its respective away game when the two met in the back-to-back rounds 3 and 4 clashes in the European Champions Cup in December. Wasps have not won at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby since 2010.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Jeff Williams, 23 Max Clark

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith (c), 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 James Cannon, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Rob Miller

Date: Saturday, February 20
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Graham Hughes