Preview: Bath vs Northampton

Date published: February 9 2017

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni will make his 100th appearance for the club when they take on Northampton at the Recreation Ground on Friday.

The 29-year-old, who made his first team debut in November 2012, has averaged nearly a try every other game for Bath, having scored 47 tries in his 99 appearances, including 10 so far this season.

Rokoduguni said: "I was surprised when I got an email the other day to say it will be my 100th appearance, which is really exciting. It’s going to be a really special occasion.

"We talk about it with my family back at home and I look back to the early days and think ‘who knew I would be playing professional rugby?’ Back then I wasn’t a professional rugby player type because I didn’t really play it at home and the tables turned just like that. It’s a journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Rokoduguni will take his place on the right wing, with Jack Wilson fresh a memorable try-scoring performance last weekend on the opposite side.

Tom Homer starts once again at full-back with Max Clark and Ben Tapuai forming the centre partnership for the fixture against Jim Mallinder’s side. Co-captain Rhys Priestland and Kahn Fotuali’i form the half-back pairing and will look to take the game to the opposition.

Nathan Catt returns to the team after being released by England, and will be joined by Tom Dunn and Max Lahiff in the front row. Charlie Ewels is also eligible for selection for tomorrow’s game, and the 21-year-old will look to continue his rich vein of form alongside Elliott Stooke in the second row.

Francois Louw, who co-captains the side with Priestland, will join forces with Tom Ellis and Paul Grant in an imposing back row combination.

Amongst the replacements, Scotland international David Denton continues his comeback from injury after an encouraging 65 minutes against Newcastle Falcons last week in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Meanwhile, the Saints have made two changes from the side that beat Scarlets in the final pool game of the Anglo-Welsh Cup both come in the pack, where Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison start.

Ben Foden leads the team out once more, while among the replacements Charlie Clare, Api Ratuniyarawa, Calum Clark and James Wilson all join the matchday 23.

Form: Bath’s only victory in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby was 14-11 at home to Saracens on third December. Bath’s 11-17 defeat at home to Exeter Chiefs in round 12 ended a seven game winning run at the Recreation Ground in Premiership Rugby. Northampton Saints have won their last three Premiership fixtures since their 11-19 defeat against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on third December. The Saints have won three times on the road this season in the tournament, at Bristol in round 1, Worcester in round 8 and Gloucester in round 12. Bath beat Northampton 18-14 at Franklin’s Gardens in round 1 this season to end a ten game winless run against the Saints in all competitions. Bath have only once before recorded a Premiership Rugby season double over Northampton, doing so in 1999/2000. The Saints are unbeaten on their last five visits to the Recreation Ground.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (cc), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Francois Louw (cc), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt 
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 David Denton, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (c), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller 
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson

Date: Friday, Feburary 10
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Geoff Warren

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