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Preview: Northampton v Bath

23rd December 2011 12:59

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Ryan Lamb

Back at 10: Ryan Lamb

Jim Mallinder is adamant that Saints are prepared for a tough challenge when they take on Bath at a sold-out Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Northampton return to Aviva Premiership action in the Christmas Eve clash looking to return to the form that took them into the play-off spots in November. But director of rugby Mallinder believes that they will have to overcome a Bath team that has plenty of talented and experienced players.

"Regardless of results you cannot afford to take a team like Bath lightly," he said.

"They have players who know what it takes to succeed at the highest level, including winning a World Cup, and Sir Ian McGeechan has coached successful teams wherever he has been.

"We were pleased with how we performed in the second half against Castres, but there have been plenty of things to work on from the first half and all the players have been working hard during the week to iron out their mistakes.

"It is a big match for both teams and we will need to be at our best to get a positive result."

Meanwhile, Bath welcome back Ross Batty, Andy Beattie, Ben Williams and Matt Carraro to their starting line-up this weekend.

Batty comes into the front row alongside David Flatman and David Wilson, with Dave Attwood and Ryan Caldwell continuing their partnership in the engine room.

Andy Beattie takes up the blindside flank position, as Guy Mercer continues at openside and Francois Louw shifts to the back of the scrum at number 8. Simon Taylor is ruled out after picking up a knock against Leinster.

Michael Claassens and Stephen Donald link up once again in the half backs, as Ben Williams starts at outside centre, partnering Olly Barkley on the inside. Matt Banahan shifts to the wing, with Matt Carraro coming in on the opposite side. Nick Abendanon completes the line-up at full-back.

Form: Northampton Saints have won their last two games at Franklin's Gardens - against Saracens and Castres, but their four match winning run in Aviva Premiership Rugby ended last time out at Leicester. Bath Rugby have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions, whilst their only victory in their last seven encounters since October was 16-13 at home to Montpellier on 20 November. Bath's most recent away win was 13-12 at London Irish on 29 October. The last five fixtures between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day. Bath's only victory against Northampton at Franklin's Gardens since 1994 was 17-13 on 22 April 2000, although Bath did beat Saracens 37-30 there in the Premiership on 6 November 2004.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Jamie Elliot, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Scott Armstrong.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Ben Williams, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Francois Louw (c), 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Will Tanner, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Date: Saturday, December 24
Kick-off: 15:15
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Referee: David Rose

  • Bath Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Bath vs Newcastle17:00
Saturday , November 22
London Irish vs Bath15:00
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , December 20
Gloucester vs Bath15:00
Saturday , December 27
Bath vs Exeter15:00
Saturday , January 3
Leicester vs Bath15:00
Saturday , January 10
Bath vs Wasps15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Saturday , December 6
Montpellier vs BathTBC
Saturday , December 13
Bath vs MontpellierTBC
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  • Bath Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 18
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
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Sunday , October 12
Wasps 29 - 22 BathWasps vs Bath Report
Friday , October 3
Bath 21 - 11 Saracens
Saturday , September 27
Northampton 31 - 24 Bath
Saturday , September 20
Bath 45 - 0 Leicester
Saturday , September 13
Bath 53 - 26 London Welsh
Saturday , September 6
Sale Sharks 20 - 29 Bath
More Aviva Premiership results
  • Table
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615
6Gloucester615