Preview: Toulon v Bath

Date published: January 8 2016

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Toulon have made seven changes from their Top 14 win over Pau for the visit of Bath in the Champions Cup on Sunday.

James O'Connor moves to full-back with Josua Tuisova taking his place on the wing, as Mathieu Bastareaud replaces Maxime Mermoz in midfield.

Bryan Habana takes over from Drew Mitchell with Eric Escande returning at scrum-half.

Upfront there are two changes to the back row as Duane Vermeulen and Juan Smith replace Steffon Armitage and Mamuka Gorgodze, while Florian Fresia takes over at loosehead prop from Xavier Chiocci.

Meanwhile, centre Jonathan Joseph will make his 50th Bath appearance.

In the club's first ever competitive meeting with the three-time European champions, Stuart Hooper returns to captain the team in a second row also featuring Wales international Dominic Day.

In the front row, Nick Auterac (loosehead), Rob Webber (hooker) and David Wilson (tighthead) start together for the second time this season. The back row of blindside Matt Garvey, openside Francois Louw and number eight Leroy Houston is the same that started Bath's 19-16 Champions Cup victory against Leinster in November.   

Named at nine and ten respectively are Chris Cook and George Ford, outside whom in the backline are centres Kyle Eastmond and Joseph. For the sixth time this season, wings Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni and full-back Anthony Watson form the back three.

Form: Sunday's match will be the first meeting between the two clubs. Toulon have won 11 of their 13 European Cup games against English opposition, however, they suffered their second heaviest defeat in the competition the last time they faced an Premiership side (6-32 v Wasps). However, Toulon boast a 100 percent record at home in Europe's top flight having won 16/16; with 14 of those wins coming by 10 points. Bath have won their last three games against French opposition in the competition, including two away from home. This after winning just one of the previous 10 against Top 14 clubs (D1, L8). After suffering six consecutive defeats on the road, Bath have now won their last three away from home in the Champions Cup pool stage, including a last-gasp win against Wasps in Round 3. 

The teams:

Toulon: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Levan Chilachava,  2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Frédéric Michalak, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Thibault Lassale

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 David Denton, 21 Jonathan Evans 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer

Date: Sunday, January 10
Venue: Stade Felix Mayol
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Mark Connolly (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)

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