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Preview: Bath v Worcester

18th April 2014 13:27

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Rob Webber Bath AVP 2013

Rob Webber: Back at hooker for Bath

Rob Webber and Jonathan Joseph both return to Bath's matchday squad to face Worcester in Saturday's clash at the Recreation Ground.

Hooker Webber takes his place in the front row, whilst Joseph comes onto the bench.

Nathan Catt and David Wilson scrum down either side of Webber, with the rest of the pack remaining unchanged from that which secured victory against Gloucester last time out.

Stuart Hooper leads the side from lock, partnered by Dave Attwood, as the explosive back row of Matt Garvey, Carl Fearns and Leroy Houston continue.

The only change in the back-line sees Anthony Watson chosen to start alongside Horacio Agulla on the wings.

Micky Young and George Ford resume their half-back partnership, as do Kyle Eastmond and Matt Banahan in the midfield. Nick Abendanon completes the line-up at full-back.

Meanwhile, midfielder Andy Symons will make his first start for the Warriors since December. The change is the only one to the squad which picked up two bonus points against Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

The six-foot-five centre is named in a back-line alongside Ryan Lamb, David Lemi, Alex Grove, Josh Drauniniu and Chris Pennell. Jonny Arr stays at scrum-half.

The forwards remain unchanged from last week's clash which sees Ofa Fainga'anuku, Agustin Creevy and Euan Murray occupy the front-row.

In the second-row James Percival and Mariano Galarza keep their places while Mike Williams and Sam Betty partner Jonathan Thomas in the back-row.

Ravai Fatiaki swaps with Symons in the replacements as Warriors chase a vital victory as they look to maintain their Aviva Premiership status for next season.

Warriors boss Dean Ryan said: "Bath have got a pretty big pack so we have to get involved and get into them. If they get the ball down quickly they will cause all sorts of problems."

"With the power they have in their pack and the ability of their runners, you can see why they're a top-four side."

"George Ford managed the game last time we played them and the match swung on a crucial play."

"This weekend is a different challenge. We have to balance trying to solve what happened last weekend and look forward to what we can expect on Saturday."

"A lot of things start happening at the end of the year with other tournaments going on so it's a big test for some of the bigger sides."

"We've only got one thing going in our lives so it makes our focus very clear."

Form: Bath Rugby's last four matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all unusually been won by the away side on the day. Bath have lost their last two home games in the tournament, to Saracens and to Sale, but have not lost three successive Premiership games at The Rec since November 2010. Worcester were successful in their most recent away game, beating Newcastle 17-12 at Kingston Park, but have not won successive fixtures on the road in the tournament since New Year 2007. The Warriors' only victory over Bath since 2007 came at Sixways in the Premiership in November 2011. Worcester have visited The Rec on nine previous occasions in all competitions and have lost all nine, the last six with a 0-5 league point tally.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson 13 Matt Banahan 12 Kyle Eastmond 11 Horacio Agulla 10 George Ford 9 Micky Young 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Paul James, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Jonathan Joseph.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Andy Symons, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Semisi Taulava, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Date: Saturday April 19
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:00 (local, 14:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle and Paul Dixon
TMO: Rowan Kitt.