Preview: Bath v Wasps

Date published: January 10 2015

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Bath second row Dave Attwood will make his 100th Premiership appearance in Saturday’s match against Wasps at the Rec.

Attwood, one of England Rugby’s standout players in the recent November series, is named at lock alongside captain Stuart Hooper. Up front Nick Auterac, Ross Batty and Henry Thomas start, whilst the back row features Matt Garvey, Francois Louw and Leroy Houston.

Scrum-half Chris Cook and fly-half George Ford remain in the half-backs.

A new-look centre partnership sees Sam Burgess deployed at 12, with Jonathan Joseph outside him. Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni line-up on the wings, with Anthony Watson at full-back.

Meanwhile, Ben Jacobs again starts at 12 for Wasps after impressive displays in recent weeks, and forms a new centre partnership with Alapati Leiua. Elliot Daly moves to the bench, having been unable to train fully this week due to a dead leg.

In the pack, Wasps are able to rotate, with England international Matt Mullan returning to the front row alongside Lorenzo Cittadini and Carlo Festuccia, who continues on his comeback trail having returned from an ankle injury against Gloucester on 27 December. Edd Shervington comes onto the bench after impressing in performances this season.

In the back row, Sam Jones comes in at blindside flanker, alongside Nathan Hughes and James Haskell, having impressed each time he’s come off the bench this season. Ashley Johnson moves to the replacements, having played the most rugby of any Wasp player this season.

“I’m really pleased with where the squad is at this stage of the season, having strength in depth to be able to rotate players in key area,” said Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young

“Si McIntyre and James Gaskell played really well last weekend, but it’s great to be in a position to start Matt Mullan in the front row and Kearnan Myall in the second row this weekend. Similarly in the back row, we are able to give Ashley a bit of a rest, starting on the bench, as he has played so much rugby already this season. Sam has played really well and deserves his start.

“It’s about managing the squad to make sure we are highly competitive in each game, but are also looking after players so they are still fully fit at the end of the season.”

Sitting in fourth spot in the Aviva Premiership table coming into the game, Young is happy with Wasps current standing, but is also aware the season is barely past the half-way stage:

“The Aviva Premiership is so tight, every single point counts. This is a significant period of the season and a massive run of games for teams; in the league, LV=Cup and the European Rugby Champions Cup, where the next two games will determine whether or not we reach the knock out stage of the competition. The next five weeks will really shape the latter part of our season.

“We have built good momentum with five wins on the bounce, but we know we are up against a formidable Bath squad who will be hurting after last weekend’s loss against Leicester Tigers. They will also want to make amends after we produced one of our best performances of the season to beat them at Adams Park last year, when they were flying high.

“For me, Bath are the team of the season, so it doesn’t come any tougher than playing them away at the Rec this weekend.”

Form: Wasps have not won at the Rec since the 2010/11 season, but defeated this weekend’s opponents in round six this term with a 29-22 win at Adams Park. The West Country outfit have lost just once in their last dozen games at the Rec, but had their seven-game winning run ended at Leicester on Sunday.

The teams:

For Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Sam Burgess, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Paul James, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Olly Woodburn.

For Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Sam Jones, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre , 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Charlie Davies 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Elliot Daly.

Date: Saturday, January 10
Venue: The Rec
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner, Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury

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