Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Leicester

25th March 2011 12:35


Leicester v Bath box

Old rivals: Tigers visit Bath

Bath will aim to continue their push for a play-off place when perennial rivals Leicester Tigers arrive at the Rec on Saturday.

Bath Head Coach Steve Meehan says a week off has allowed his team to recharge mentally, and physically.

"It was a good time to have a break as we had four very tough games in quick succession, so there were tired and hurting bodies that had given their all around, he said.

"This is the one that all the players want to be involved in. Games against Leicester are special games, with great rivalry between the two teams. They are the only two teams to have made the semi-finals every year the last three years running - obviously we've travelled to Welford Road for two, which is always a challenge, but it's spiced up the relationship, and we're looking forward to renewing acquaintances and challenging them again today."

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers welcome back Six Nations champions Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and Tom Croft.

With just five rounds remaining, Tigers lead the Aviva Premiership table and director of rugby Richard Cockerill has included four of his returning England internationals.

"We've had a couple of weeks without a club game during the last stages of the Six Nations but most of the guys have been able to recharge their batteries," said Cockerill.

"The internationals have returned, we've had a good week of working together again and we're focused on the run-in now, starting with Bath on Saturday.

"Louis Deacon is unavailable this week after returning from England duty with an Achilles injury, and Martin Castrogiovanni and George Skivington are also injured, but we've got some bodies back during the break and it's great to have some strength in depth throughout the squad again."

Ed Slater and Steve Mafi team up in the second row, with Croft starting alongside Craig Newby and Thomas Waldrom in the back row.

Jordan Crane and Matt Smith return from injury to take a place among the replacements.

Loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza and wing Alesana Tuilagi make their 100th starting appearances for the club and skipper Newby makes his 50th start.

Form:Bath's 26-12 victory at Leicester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 4 February ended an eight game winless run against the Tigers. Leicester have not won at the Rec in the Premiership since 25 March 2006. Bath's 22-34 defeat to Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on 7 March ended a five game winning run in all competitions. Bath have won their last four matches at the Rec since Ulster won there in the Heineken Cup on 18 December. Leicester Tigers' 14-15 reversal to Saracens at Welford Road on 5 March brought to an end a nine game winning run in Aviva Premiership Rugby. Tigers have not lost away from home in the Premiership since their trip to Gloucester on 30 October.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Ben Williams, 12 Sam Vesty, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Luke Watson (capt), 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 David Wilson, 19 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Shontayne Hape, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby (capt), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Julian White, 19 Jordan Crane, 20 Ben Woods, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Saturday, March 26
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 16.30 GMT
Referee: Dave Pearson

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