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Preview: Bath v Leicester

13th September 2013 10:54

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Gavin Henson Bath v Newcastle AVP 2013

Gavin Henson: At 12 for Bath

Bath have made two changes to their starting line-up for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers at the Recreation Ground.

Guy Mercer comes in for Mat Gilbert on the openside flank, and Gavin Henson replaces Kyle Eastmond at inside centre.

Mercer takes his place in a back-row containing new signings Matt Garvey on the blindside and Leroy Houston at number eight. Stuart Hooper and Dave Attwood continue in the second-row, with the international front-row of Paul James, Rob Webber and David Wilson aiming to pick up where they left off last week.

In the half-backs, Peter Stringer and George Ford are named once again, as Henson joins Jonathan Joseph in the midfield. Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni provide the wheels out wide, as the exciting young Anthony Watson starts at full-back.

This weekend's clash will mark 100 years (and a day) since the first game between two of the biggest rivals in English rugby.

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers bring Steve Mafi, Ed Slater and Scott Hamilton back into their starting line-up.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill includes back-rower Mafi in the forward pack following injury to Tom Croft, while Slater steps up into the second-row after an appearance from the bench in the Round One win over Worcester Warriors last weekend.

Hamilton comes in on the wing after missing the game in Round One. The teamwill also include Aviva Premiership debutant Sebastian de Chaves who joined Tigers this summer after a season in France with Mont de Marsan.

Anthony Allen leads the team as captain with Toby Flood and Louis Deacon sidelined. Back-rower Jamie Gibson, an arrival from London Irish, is called into the matchday squad for the first time and scrum-half Sam Harrison is also included among the replacements.

Deacon and Geoff Parling are unavailable this week due to injury. Flood, Croft, Miles Benjamin, Gonzalo Camacho, Rob Hawkins, Graham Kitchener, Matt Smith, Mathew Tait, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs are also ruled out by injury. Marcos Ayerza is on international duty with Argentina.

Form: Bath began the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season with a convincing 21-0 victory at Newcastle last Friday, and have lost just once at The Rec in the competition since round 3 last season: 0-22 to Saracens in December. Leicester Tigers most recent defeat in the Premiership came at Bath, 26-27 on 20th April. The Tigers have begun a new campaign with back to back wins only once since 2008/09. Bath and Leicester first met exactly one hundred years ago at Welford Road, with Leicester running out 19-5 victors. In more recent times Bath have beaten Leicester just twice in their last elven Premiership encounters.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 21 Micky Young, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Tom Biggs.

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen (c), 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Dave Mélé, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.

Date: Saturday, September 14
Kick-off: 15:15 BST
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Ashley Rowden
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Assessor: Gary Welsh

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