Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Worcester

08th February 2013 12:32

Share:

Christian Wade of London Wasps is tackled by Tom Biggs of Bath

On the wing: Tom Biggs

England Saxons flyers Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond return to the Bath starting XV on Saturday as Worcester arrive at the Recreation Ground.

Both stars return to the back-line, with Biggs on the wing and Eastmond outside Bath favourite Matt Banahan, who shifts to inside centre. Argentinean Horacio Agulla lines up on the opposite wing, with Nick Abendanon named again at full-back.

Stephen Donald and Peter Stringer continue to organise proceedings from half-back, building on their controlling performance from last weekend's epic win over Gloucester.

In the forwards, Charlie Beech and Anthony Perenise are given the nod either side of Rob Webber in the front row and Dave Attwood and Dominic Day continue their powerful partnership in the engine room. Ben Skirving is in at Number 8, with Francois Louw and Carl Fearns - fresh from a deeply impressive return from injury last weekend - flanking him.

Meanwhile, Worcester head coach Richard Hill revamps his pack for the trip to the West Country.

Hill makes a total of seven changes to the side that lost out to Saracens in the LV= Cup last weekend as Warriors resume league action.

Lock James Percival will captain the side from the second row where he is joined by Dean Schofield.

A new-look back row will see Neil Best and Sam Betty feature while Matt Kvesic is named at number eight.

Prop Matt Mullan is named at loosehead after missing last week on duty with England Saxons.

Alex Grove, fresh from his heroics with Scotland A, joins forces with Jon Clarke in midfield while the final change sees Errie Claassens take over from the injured Chris Pennell.

"Bath have got their confidence up," admitted Hill, who revealed Semisi Taulava and Chris Pennell would miss the game through injury.

"They have got to a quarter-final of the Amlin Challenge Cup and they have got to a semi-final of the LV=Cup with a really good win at Kingsholm.

"At the moment they are in a rich vein of form and flying high. I live in Bath and get the vibes and feelings from the supporters, I have even got Michael Claassens living across the road from me, so you understand the mentality they have got.

"They are high on confidence at the moment, there is no doubt about that, while we have gone through a sticky patch so we need a drastic turnaround of form.

He added: "Last week we had a disappointing build-up, but we have had key people away. Many of team are back; the likes of Dean Schofield and Sam Betty were away while Matt Mullan, Alex Grove and Matt Kvesic were on international duty.

"We have prepared well this week and for whatever game plan Bath use against us. The Rec pitch is damp so we don't expect a hard track, but we will try and play as much as we can. There is plenty of incentive for us and we are only one point below them in the league."

Form: Bath have won their last four games in all competitions, but in Aviva Premiership Rugby have managed just a solitary victory from their last six outings: 21-18 at home to table-topping Harlequins on 23 November. Worcester Warriors' only win in their last four Premiership matches was 13-6 at home to London Welsh in round eleven. The Warriors are without an away victory in the Premiership since they visited London Wasps on New Year's Day 2012. Worcester have beaten Bath just once since March 2007: 16-7 at Sixways in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 25 November 2011, whilst they have never won in eight previous visits to The Rec and have left without a point on their last five visits to the ground in all competitions.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Charlie Beech.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.

Worcester: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Date: Saturday, February 9
Kick-off: 14:15
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Andrew Pearce
Television match official: Laurie Bryant
Timekeeper: Jerry Wallis

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39