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Preview: Bath v Exeter Chiefs

29th November 2013 10:07

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Horacio Agulla Bath AVP 2013

Back from Test duty: Horacio Agulla

Horacio Agulla and Francois Louw return to the Bath's starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Exeter at the Recreation Ground.

The duo are back for Bath's Premiership campaign following international duties with Argentina and South Africa respectively.

Agulla lines up on the opposite wing to Matt Banahan, with Ollie Devoto and Jonathan Joseph continuing their midfield partnership. Anthony Watson is selected at full-back, as George Ford combines with Peter Stringer in the half-backs once more.

Louw takes the starting openside shirt, forming a powerful back-row trio alongside Matt Garvey and Leroy Houston.

Dominic Day partners Dave Attwood in the engine room, with the unchanged front-row of Nathan Catt, Rob Webber and David Wilson completing the scrum.

Meanwhile Exeter boss Baxter has tinkered with his formation offering a first league start of the season to Luke Arscott at full-back. His inclusion means Phil Dollman drops back into the midfield where he will partner the recalled Jason Shoemark.

Up front, the only change to the Exeter pack sees Ben Moon come in at loosehead for Brett Sturgess, who drops to the bench alongside Ian Whitten.

"Bath are a good side, a top-four team and the type of big challenge you are going to have to face if you're pushing up the league," said Baxter.

"Whenever we have gone at each other with full-strength sides they have always been pretty close games. Saracens last week was the kind of game that you expect against a top-four side, particularly one with a strong defensive set-up.

"If you play well, you are going to give yourself a couple of opportunities but you have to take them too. At the weekend I thought we played very well in a tight affair but there were a couple of opportunities we didn't take.

"You have to be able to deal with that, step back and take in the bigger picture and force those things when they happen next time."

Form: Bath have won their last seven matches in all tournaments since tripping up at Sale in the Premiership on 4 October. Bath have lost only once at The Rec in the Premiership in their last dozen encounters since September 2012: 0-22 to Saracens in December 2012. Exeter Chiefs three game winning run in the Premiership ended at home to Saracens on Saturday. The Chiefs only away defeat in the tournament since February was 11-38 at Northampton in the opening weekend of this season. Exeter's solitary victory over Bath in any tournament came way back in January 1978 at the old County Ground in the first round of the John Player Cup. The Chiefs have already visited the Rec this season, being defeated there 15-37 in the LV= Cup two weeks ago.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Paul James, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Nick Abendanon

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Don Armand, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten

Date: Saturday 30th November
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 1515 (local and GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Peter Huckle
TMO: Keith Lewis

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