Preview: Montpellier v Bath

Date published: December 4 2014

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After poor starts, Montpellier and Bath head into this clash at Montpellier’s Altrad Stadium desperate for victories as defeat could have disastrous consequences for their respective campaigns.

Both sides are winless after their two previous matches with Bath sitting at the bottom of the table – with just one bonus point – while Montpellier are a point better off in third place behind pacesetters Glasgow and Toulouse, who do battle on Saturday.

Bath flanker Carl Fearns knows that another loss would mean they are unlikely to progress to the tournament’s knockout stages.

“We are going into it (Europe) with some form but in this fixture I don’t think form comes into it,” said Fearns.

“It’s basically a knockout game. We can turn around our tournament if we get a win.

“It is going to be massive in the set piece this Friday and we need to dominate there.

“This is a competition we want to play in and it is a massive stage so it’s about now and putting right the first two games.”

Previous matches between these sides have gone down to the wire. The home side were victorious in their last two Heineken Cup matches by three points or less.

In team news, five Bath players who starred in England’s victory against Australia last Saturday are included in their squad for this clash.

Full-back Anthony Watson and fly-half George Ford both start for the club after their month-long international campaign.

Meanwhile, forwards Dave Attwood, Rob Webber and David Wilson take their place on a formidable-looking bench for the third round of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

In the back three, Watson is joined by wings Horacio Agulla and Matt Banahan – both of whom helped get Bath off to a flying start against Harlequins last Friday.

Supporters will delight in seeing fly-half Ford line up once more alongside a midfield combination of Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph, as Chris Cook again starts at scrum-half.

Bath’s pack shows only one change to the one which was the undoing of Quins in round nine of the Aviva Premiership, with Fearns marking his full return to fitness by starting at openside.

Fearns packs down in the back row with David Sisi (blindside) and Leroy Houston (number eight), behind second rows Dominic Day and captain Stuart Hooper.

In the front row, loosehead Nick Auterac and tighthead Henry Thomas are joined by hooker Ross Batty, a try-scorer and Man of the Match against Quins.

Along with its trio of England forwards, Bath’s bench is further bolstered by the notable return from injury of back rower – and former IRB International Sevens Player of the Year nominee – Alafoti Fa’osiliva. After his 20-minute cameo appearance last week, Sam Burgess will also hope to get his first taste of European rugby tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Montpellier head coach Fabien Galthi

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