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Preview: Bath v Leicester

25th September 2009 12:28

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nick abendanon

Boost for Bath: Nick Abendanon

Bath welcome back Nick Abendanon to their full-back jersey for their fixture with old rivals Leicester at the Recreation Ground this Saturday.

Steve Meehan's side have, however, been forced to move wing Matt Banahan to centre after Matt Carraro's kitchen accident ruled him out.

Bath enter the game on the back of a morale-boosting victory at Edgeley Park and will be keen to continue their turnaround on home soil.

"I thought it [last Friday] was a great night's performance at Sale," admitted the club's Skills and Defence Coach Brad Davis.

"To get a win there is not only important for us at this stage in the season after losing our two opening games, but could become a really important win further down the track in the Guinness Premiership also.

"The boys worked hard not only defensively but in attack. We were clinical and we took our chances. Our set piece was strong throughout the evening and I think we showed a real physicality in every aspect of the game. I think that is why we got the result that we did."

Looking to improve yet further this Saturday against the Tigers, Davis believes that the players will challenge each other to continuously move from strength to strength.

"We set high standards. The guys expect each other to deliver week in, week out and it was disappointing in the opening weeks of the Premiership that we didn't hit those standards, but I felt we are looking for an improvement again this week," he said.

"It's always better when you have won the game and I think we all know what Leicester will bring on Saturday to this game and what we have to do is improve our performance against Sale.

"We have to be physical. We have got to stand up. We have to be desperate in every area of our game and what we have to do is take our chances when they come because at the moment Leicester aren't conceding too many tries.

"When we do get those opportunities we need to take them."

Meanwhile, the Tigers recall international trio Julian White, Lewis Moody and Aaron Mauger, who all make their first starting appearance of the season on Saturday.

Head Coach Richard Cockerill makes three other changes to his line-up following last week's home win over Newcastle as Richard Blaze and Jordan Crane return and James Grindal makes his first appearance for the club since his return to Welford Road.

White, Moody and Mauger have all had run-outs from the replacements' bench in the early weeks of the season and have earned a first start of the campaign on Saturday.

Boris Stankovich and Dan Hipkiss also return after injury and have been named among the replacements.

"Nine points from three games is a solid start to the season, especially when we have been missing some key players," said Cockerill.

"All of the guys in the squad have stood up well to get us into that position and I have nothing but praise for the players for their efforts so far.

"Now we have a few more players back from injury which allows us to select from some extra options, which is always a good position to be in.

"Bath had a good win at Sale Sharks last weekend and we have great respect for them. I'm sure it will be a typical, traditional Bath-Leicester game."

Form: The teams met on five separate occasions in all competitions last season with Bath victorious just once: 25-21 in the Guinness Premiership at the Rec on 15 November. Bath Rugby opened their winning account for 2009/10 with an impressive 25-12 victory at Sale on Friday, following defeats in the opening two rounds. Bath have lost two of their last three home matches at The Rec. Leicester Tigers have recorded back to back wins in the Guinness Premiership, whilst their last 14 scoring actions have all been penalty goals kicked by new recruit Jeremy Staunton. The Tigers have won four of their last six away matches and have obtained at least a point from each of their last nine Premiership away games. The Tigers have won on just one of their last seven visits to Bath in the Premiership: 19-12 on 25 March 2006.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Michael Claassens (capt), 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Peter Short, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Barnes.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 David Flatman, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Andy Beattie, 21 Scott Bemand, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Michael Stephenson.

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (capt), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Anthony Allen, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Craig Newby, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Richard Blaze, 3 Julian White, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Boris Stankovich, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Brett Deacon, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Dan Hipkiss, 23 Matt Smith.

Date: Saturday, September 26
Kick-off: 18:05 BST
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Stuart Terheege
Television match official: Laurie Bryant, Geoff Warren

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