Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Sale Sharks

27th March 2014 10:33

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Nick Abendanon Bath AVP 2013

Nick Abendanon: will play his 200th game for Bath

Full-back Nick Abendanon will make his 200th appearance for Bath when they face Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on Friday.

Also hitting a major milestone is England Saxons loosehead prop Nathan Catt who, should he be called on from the bench, will make his 100th appearance for his home club.

Abendanon retains the number 15 jersey following a scintillating performance in last week's bonus point win over London Irish, with Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni joining him in the back three.

Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto continue their midfield combination, as do George Ford and Peter Stringer in the half-backs.

The only change comes in the pack, with Guy Mercer replacing the injured Francois Louw on the openside flank.

Matt Garvey and Leroy Houston continue on the blindside and at number eight respectively.

Stuart Hooper captains the side from the second-row, where he is partnered by Dave Attwood, and the international front row duo of Paul James and David Wilson prop down either side of Ross Batty at the coalface.

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond has retained the same matchday 23 that beat Northampton last weekend.

There is one change to the starting line-up, however. The only switch sees Andrei Ostrikov coming in at lock and Jonathan Mills takes his place on the bench.

Form: Bath's only loss in their last six Aviva Premiership encounters was 10-23 at home to Saracens in Round 16. Bath have not lost successive matches at the Rec in the tournament since December 2011. Sale Sharks have also lost just one of their last six Premiership fixtures: 10-15 at home to Saracens in Round 14. The Sharks have won four of their last five away games in all competitions and are going for a fourth successive victory on the road in the Premiership, something that they haven't achieved since October 2004. Bath have won just one of their last five matches against Sale in the Premiership: 31-10 at The Rec in this equivalent fixture last season. The Sharks have been victorious at the Rec only once since 2006: 16-13 on 3rd December 2011.

The teams:

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

Sale: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller.

Date: Friday, March 28
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Kelvin Stewart
Television match official: David Grashoff
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

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