Planet Rugby

Preview: Sale v Bath

10th February 2011 12:37

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Ben Skirving Bath v Sale Aviva Premiership Recreation Ground

Ben Skirving: Lines up for Bath

Bath travel to Edgeley Park on Friday looking for a repeat of their Aviva Premiership win over Sale Sharks earlier this season.

With just one defeat in all competitions since Christmas, including last weekend's victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, the West Country side are determined to continue their ascent up the Aviva Premiership table.

Bath Director of Rugby, Sir Ian McGeechan, explains how important good momentum is to a side and the challenge held by Sale.

"Sale are a good side, who play consistently well at home," he said.

"If we haven't got our top game we won't win - it's that simple. We know we will be facing a strong opposition and will have to play a strong and disciplined game to match that.

"We have built some good momentum since Christmas, and the victory at Welford Road last week was a good confidence builder against a mixed Tigers side. The players are in good spirits, and we've had a good few weeks in training.

"Despite not progressing, the LV= Cup has been very important, especially for some of the younger players. We have played against good opposition and come away with three wins out of four, so it's not been a bad return. For the likes of Nick Scott and Guy Mercer, to go to Welford Road and be involved in a winning side there, it will stand them in very good stead for the future.

"We have prepared for this game in very much the same way we would if it was an LV= or European game. If you are going out and pulling on a Bath jersey, then you want to play the best you can in that jersey. If the game is more intense than the last, you become more intense; if it is more physical, then you become more physical. You respond to what is required on the night and that is what we will do."

Meanwhile, Sale welcome their big names back after a below-strength team was handed a drubbing by Saracens in the LV=Cup last week.

"We have addressed the way we played at Saracens and we are looking to return to the way we were playing at the start of the year," said Head Coach Pete Anglesea.

Form: The Sharks' only victory in their last eight fixtures against Bath was 23-16 in the Premiership on 27 March 2009. Sale have lost their last two games in all competitions, whilst in Aviva Premiership Rugby are unbeaten in their last two encounters. Bath have won five of their last six games in all competitions. Bath have been victorious in their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters.

The teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Rhys Crane, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 7 Carl Fearns, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Lee Imiolek.
Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Aston Croall, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Sean Cox, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Iain Thornley.

Bath:15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Nick Abendanon, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Luke Watson (c), 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 David Barnes, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Nick Scott.

Date: Friday, February 11
Venue: Edgeley Park
Kick-off: 19.45 GMT
Referee: Chris White

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