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Preview: Bath v Leinster

09th December 2011 08:05

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Stephen Donald Bath montpellier HEc 2011

Welcome return for Bath: Stephen Donald

Out-of-form Bath welcome back Francois Louw and Stephen Donald for Sunday's crunch Heineken Cup clash with reigning champions Leinster at the Rec.

The Dubliners head their Pool but only by two points and head to England on the back of two impressive victories in their domestic Pr012 campaign.

Leinster snatched a last ditch draw on France in Montpellier in the opening game of this Pool but showed their champions credentials when they strolled to a 38-13 win over Glasgow.

Bath meanwhile are struggling to find some form having won only one of their last five games - that win coming against Montpellier in Round Two.

Louw comes in on the blindside for the home side. Donald returns to partner Michael Claassens in the half-backs while Olly Barkley and Dan Hipkiss form a new centre partnership, with Nick Abendanon returning to full-back.

David Flatman and David Wilson scrum down either side of Chris Biller, who will make his first start for Bath in the front row.

"This European game is a great challenge for us, and it's this kind of game that we all want to be part of," said Director of Rugby Sir Ian McGeechan.

"Our situation with injuries is much the same as last week, although unfortunately now with the addition of Stuart Hooper, who has a fractured wrist. Leinster are obviously a good side, and have been setting the standard in Europe for the last couple of seasons, so it's great to be playing them at the Rec, in front of a full house."

Meanwhile, there are several changes to the Leinster side that defeated Glasgow in Round Two with Fergus McFadden named at outside centre alongside Gordon D'Arcy.

Up front, Damian Browne makes his second start in the Heineken Cup this term and the Galway man will partner skipper Leo Cullen at second row, with Richardt Strauss named in the front row alongside Heinke van der Merwe and Mike Ross.

Kevin McLaughlin joins fellow Ireland internationals Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien in the back row.

Isaac Boss, Gordon D'Arcy and Rob Kearney - who were all try-scorers in the 38-13 victory over Glasgow in the RDS last month - are also selected in the starting side.

Ireland internationals Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Devin Toner are named on a strong looking bench.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Chris Biller, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Beech, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Andy Beattie, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Sam Vesty.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke Van Der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Eoin O'Malley,

Date: Sunday, December 11
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 12:45 GMT
Referee: Jerome Garces

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