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Preview: Bath v Leicester Tigers

30th September 2011 13:03


Leicester v Bath Geoff Parling try

Back for face Bath: Geoff Parling

Geoff Parling returns from a ten-month injury absence as he starts in the Leicester Tigers second row in Saturday's Aviva Premiership match at Bath.

There is also a first appearance of the season for fly-half Jeremy Staunton as Tigers travel to the Recreation Ground.

Parling ended the 2009/10 season with a Premiership winner's medal but made just one appearance last season after first picking up an injury on the England tour to Australia and New Zealand, and then suffering a knee injury.

His return is the only change in the forward pack, while director of rugby Richard Cockerill gives a first start to Staunton and Mathew Tait in the backline and Matt Smith moves to centre.

Ben Pienaar, who missed the second half of last season with injury, is named in the matchday squad for the first time in 2011/12.

"It's a tough start to the season for us, but the players have shown a great attitude to their work, they are a tight bunch of lads and we have to just battle on," said Cockerill.

"Geoff Parling has been really unlucky with injuries but having him back gives us options up front and it'll be good to see him back out there on the pitch."

Anthony Allen picked up an injury in the match against Saracens last week and Mickey Young is out with a calf injury. They join Kieran Brookes, Jordan Crane, Calum Green, Craig Newby, George Skivington and Julian White on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Bath have made a number of changes to the side which travelled to Kingsholm last weekend.

Dan Hipkiss returns to the outside centre role to face his old club, partnered by Ben Williams at inside centre. Matt Carraro shifts outside to the wing, and Olly Woodburn comes onto the bench after Jack Cuthbert was ruled out with a slight knock picked up last weekend. Carl Fearns and Nathan Catt are also ruled out with minor knocks.

In the front row, David Flatman and Pieter Dixon return, with Kane Palma-Newport joining them. Duncan Bell and Ross Batty both feature on the bench, and Charlie Beech retains his place after his debut last week.

The back row sees the return of Simon Taylor in the number eight shirt, with Ben Skirving moving to the blindside flank, and Guy Mercer starting on the openside. Andy Beattie provides the cover from the bench.

Form: Bath have slipped to two defeats in their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby matches. Bath's only reversal in their last five games at The Rec was 26-28 to Saracens on 10 September. Leicester Tigers suffered their biggest ever home Premiership defeat against Saracens on Saturday, and have won just one of their last five matches. The Tigers solo loss on the road in the Premiership since last October was 29-35 at Wasps on 11 September. Bath have not beaten Leicester in the Premiership since Tigers visited The Rec on 15 November 2008 and lost 21-25. Bath have not crossed the Tigers tryline in the Premiership for 266 minutes since Matt Banahan did so at Welford Road on 3 April 2010.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Sam Vesty 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Flatman (c).
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Andy Beattie, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Olly Woodburn.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Mathew Tait, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal, 8 Julian Salvi, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Michael Holford, 2 George Chuter (c), 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Peter Bucknall, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Ben Pienaar, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Andy Forsyth.

Date: Saturday, October 1
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15.15 (14.15 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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