Planet Rugby

Preview - Bath v Bristol

30th March 2007 12:27

Share:

Having had two weeks to prepare for Saturday's European Challenge Cup showdown against Bristol, Steve Meehan is in no doubt that his Bath Rugby will be fresh and raring to go.

Bath's last match was a narrow league defeat to Leicester in mid-March, but the spirit and style of rugby shown on that occasion are further reasons why the team is excited and optimistic about tomorrow's quarter-final.

"It's a big weekend and important to us, and we've prepared well for it," the Head Coach said.

"The break has given some players a rest that has freshened them up, and they have had two weeks to get a very good understanding of what we are about for this game."

Meanwhile, Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill has lived up to his pledge and named a strong side to for the match. Bath nemesis Lee Robinson - a winning try-scorer in two of the three Bath-Bristol encounters earlier in the season - returns on the right wing.

Hill does have to make changes from the side that defeated Northampton Saints in the Guinness Premiership last weekend with Rob Higgitt (thumb) and Bernardo Stortoni (knee) ruled out. Flanker Alfie To'oala is also rested as a precaution.

Josh Taumalolo comes in for Stortoni and Sam Cox replaces Higgitt whilst Robinson, who has scored crucial scores against Bath in the past at the Rec, Memorial Stadium and Ashton Gate, is preferred to Craig Morgan.

Roy Winters switches from the second row to the blindside to take over from To'oala and Mariano Sambucetti, fresh from his hat-trick scoring exploits against Gloucester in the Guinness A League on Monday night, comes in at lock.

It's actually only the third time in eight years that Bristol have reached the knockout stages of European competition with the last occasion being a quarter final at Sale in 2002.

However, Hill revealed that he and his team are putting the league to one side for the moment and going for cup glory.

"We've picked the strongest side we can so we're treating it very seriously. We gained a lot of confidence from the win last weekend and that should carry over into this game."

"It's a very serious game for us. You don't get many chances to win silverware, you have to go for it when you have the opportunity."

"I think we've got a good chance. We've beaten them at three different grounds this season but they will be stronger this time around. And, of course, this is make or break for their season."

"Bath tend to play better when it's a cup tie so we're expecting a real onslaught and a real determination to get through. But we may go into it more relaxed as it's a must win for them and we've beaten them three times."

Among those coming into the side are two players whose appearances this season have been restricted by injury: Michael Lipman, who has made just five other starts this season, will be at openside flanker; and Tom Cheeseman, who has scored four tries in ten appearances since September, begins on the left wing.

Form: Bristol have dwindled a bit in the Premiership as key players have been rested for the end-of-season run-in, while Bath have got themselves all but clear of relegation with a couple of useful wins during the Six Nations. Bristol have won all three encounters between the two this season, including a 12-19 win at The Rec in November.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Shaun Berne, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Cheeseman, 10 Chris Malone, 9 Nick Walshe, 8 Isaac Feaunati, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Peter Short, 19 Jonny Faamatuainu, 20 Andy Williams, 21 David Bory, 22 Chev Walker.

Bristol: 15 Josh Taumalolo, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Neil Brew, 12 Sam Cox, 11 David Lemi, 10 Danny Gray, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Andrew Blowers, 7 Joe El Abd, 6 Roy Winters, 5 Gareth Llewellyn (c), 4 Mariano Sambucetti, 3 Darren Crompton, 2 Mark Regan, 1 Dave Hilton.

Replacements: 16 David Blaney, 17 Alex Clarke, 18 Nathan Budgett, 19 Craig Short, 20 Greg Nicholls, 21 Jason Strange, 22 Luke Arscott.

Date: Saturday, March 31

Venue: The Rec

Kick-off: 12:00 (11:00 GMT)

Referee: Donal Courtney (Ireland)

Touch judges: George Clancy (Ireland), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Assessor: Joël Dume (France)

Television match official: Brian Abrahams (England), Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26