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Preview: Worcester v Bath

31st August 2012 11:11

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Paul James Shane Williams PRO12 final celeb 2012

Bath debut: Paul James

Paul James, Dominic Day and Kyle Eastmond will all make their first competitive starts for Bath as the team take on Worcester Warriors in the opening round of the 2012/13 Aviva Premiership season.

James and Day both joined the club over the summer, and, having impressed during pre-season, will start at loosehead prop and in the second row respectively.

James is joined in the front row by Lee Mears and David Wilson, with Day joining forces with captain Stuart Hooper in the engine room. Francois Louw, recently selected to join the Springboks squad for the Rugby Championship, Carl Fearns and Ben Skirving complete the pack.

Olly Barkley pulls on the fly-half shirt in a competitive fixture for the first time since November 2010, renewing his half-back partnership with Michael Claassens.

Eastmond arrived at the Club last year, but injuries limited his time in the Bath jersey to just three appearances from the bench. He will start on the left wing, with Tom Biggs on the opposite side. Matt Banahan and Dan Hipkiss combine in the centres, with Nick Abendanon named at full-back.

"We've had a good pre-season, and are pleased with the results, but we all know the real hard work is just beginning and that areas of our game still need improving," said coach Gary Gold.

"Worcester are a difficult side to prepare for. They have a good strong pack, a staunch defence and they are a team that work very hard for one another, which is always difficult to counter."

Meanwhile, Worcester coach Richard Hill has handed club debuts to five summer signings.

Dean Schofield will captain Worcester for the first time and is paired with James Percival in the second row.

Giant Tongan number eight Semisi Taulava will make his Aviva Premiership debut in a back-row that also contains Chris Jones and Sam Betty.

Prop John Andress is the third new face in the pack and lines up with England international Matt Mullan and hooker Aleki Lutui.

Samoa international captain David Lemi will make his debut and provide the firepower out wide with Josh Drauniniu while a new centre pairing sees Josh Matavesi handed his first start alongside Alex Grove.

Chris Pennell will operate at full back while Andy Goode and Shaun Perry will form the half back pairing for the opening afternoon of league action.

Form: Worcester Warriors' only previous win on the opening weekend in the Premiership was when they beat Sale 17-12 at Sixways last season. The Warriors finished off the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with four straight defeats. Bath have played away from home in round one every year since 1998, except for 2007, despite this they have won their opening game in four of the past five years. Bath won just one of their last six games in all competitions last season: 17-12 at home to London Wasps on 21 April. Worcester have beaten Bath just once in their last ten meetings in all competitions since 2007: 16-7 at Sixways in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 25 November 2011.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (c), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Ben Howard.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Kyle Eastmond, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Jack Cuthbert

Date: Saturday, September 1
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce

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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615
6Gloucester615