Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Newcastle

07th February 2014 11:08

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At ten: George Ford

Kyle Eastmond, George Ford and Anthony Watson will all start for Bath when they take on Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.

Released by England, the trio take their place in a team that sees eight changes to the starting line-up from the team that secured the bonus-point victory at Welford Road last week.

Ford reforms his half-back partnership with Peter Stringer, as Kyle Eastmond links up with Ollie Devoto in the midfield. Watson comes in on the opposite wing to Matt Banahan, with Nick Abendanon selected at full-back.

Nathan Catt and Rob Webber return to the front row, packing down with Juan Pablo Orlandi. Club captain Stuart Hooper partners Dominic Day at lock, with the powerful back row of Matt Garvey, Francois Louw and Carl Fearns completing the starting XV.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made two changes for tomorrow's trip to Bath.

Jamie Helleur replaces Adam Powell at centre, while in the engine room Scott MacLeod comes in for Dom Barrow who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

After playing 50 minutes of last weekend's 29-0 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in the LV= Cup, Argentinian international Gonzalo Tiesi makes his Premiership debut for the Falcons.

Ally Hogg returns to the fold following his man-of-the-match display for Scotland 'A' against England Saxons and has a place on the bench alongside Saxon Kieran Brookes. The Falcons are however, without hooker Scott Lawson who is in the Scotland squad for tomorrow's Calcutta Cup showdown with England at Murrayfield.

"Bath will be a very difficult test for us, but it's a challenge that we are relishing and looking forward to," said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards.

"We gave a solid account of ourselves last week and performed very well, and it's up to us to continue that momentum into this weekend's game.

"It's great to see Gonzalo Tiesi back in the team following injury and his experience in the backline will be invaluable - it will be interesting to see how he goes with Jamie Helleur in the midfield," added Richards.

Form: Bath have lost just one of their last 17 games against Newcastle. You have to go back to October 2009 for the last time the Falcons got the better of Bath - a 27-16 win at the Rec - and the north-east side have not won away in the competition since round five. Bath have recorded only one defeat from their last 17 first-team matches: 25-43 at Northampton in Aviva Premiership Rugby on December 28. Bath's only loss at the Rec in any competition since December 2012 was when Stade Franšais were the visitors in the quarter final of last season's EuropeanChallenge Cup. Newcastle Falcons have won two of their last three matches in all tournaments but in the Aviva Premiership have slipped to six straight defeats and centre Jamie Helleur knows it is a record they must improve.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Horacio Agulla

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Warren Fury, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Franck Montanella, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Adam Powell

Date: Saturday, February 8
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kickoff: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees:Paul Dix, Roy Maybank
TMO: David Grashoff

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