Planet Rugby

Preview: Harlequins v Bath

28th November 2008 12:23

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Nick Abendanon on the fly

Nick Abendanon: Back from injury

Although Bath Rugby are still top of the Guinness Premiership table, the team needs to use the disappointment of the 28-28 draw against Northampton Saints last weekend to spur them on for a win against Harlequins this Sunday.

After an eight-day turnaround between matches, the team will be fresher for the trip to the Stoop, but there are other chellenges, as forwards coach Mark Bakewell explained.

"Harlequins always put a lot of pressure on our game," admitted Bakewell.

"They are probably a bigger collective threat than Northampton and they get a lot of quick ball and are solid in defence.

"Harlequins are one of the better attacking teams for sure."

Whilst talking about attacking play, Bakewell referred to two of his own players Jonny Faamatuainu and Daniel Browne, who have both crossed the line twice this season.

"I think Jonny and Daniel read the game well and tend to be in the right position at the right time. Daniel's try last weekend was off the back of a very good scrum and he read the defence perfectly and found the space very quickly. These guys take their opportunities when they can."

Nick Abendanon returns to the Bath side after enduring an injury that kept him out of the fray since Newport Gwent Dragons. Tom Cheeseman pulls on the outside centre shirt in place of injured Alex Crockett and Michael Claassens takes on the captaincy.

Meanwhile, the Quins line-up for Sunday's game sees the welcome return of Captain Will Skinner to the side, after being injured in the game against London Wasps, and missing last week's visit to Welford Road.

Andy Gomarsall is also back in the starting line-up at scrum-half, forming an enticing partnership with Nick Evans at fly-half.

Centre Gonzalo Tiesi and Hooker Tani Fuga both re-join the starting line-up after being away on International duty, for Argentina and the Pacific Islands respectively.

James Percival makes his first Guinness Premiership start of the season, partnering Jim Evans in the second row, in place of Ollie Kohn who is being rested.

Seb Stegmann returns to the wing, joining Tom Williams and Mike Brown in the backs.

Form: Harlequins were beaten 14-27 at Leicester on Saturday after back to back wins in the Guinness Premiership. Bath Rugby drew 28-all at Northampton - Bath's first draw since April 2007. Bath are still unbeaten away from home in the Premiership this season. The last four matches between the two clubs have been won by the home side on the day, whilst Bath's last win at the Stoop in the Premiership was 18-10 on 25 September 2004.

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Will Skinner (c), 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Jim Evans, 4 James Percival, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Tani Fuga, 1 Ceri Jones.

Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 George Robson, 19 Neil McMillan, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 De Wet Barry, 22 Chris Malone.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Tom Cheeseman, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens (c), 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Jonny Faamatuainu, 6 Stuart Hooper, 5 Peter Short, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Flatman.

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Andy Beattie, 19 James Scaysbrook, 20 Scott Bemand, 21 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 22 Michael Stephenson.

Date: Sunday, November 30

Venue: The Stoop

Kick-off: 15.00 GMT

Referee: Martin Fox

Touch judges: Bruce Robertson, Kevin Stewart

Assessor: Brian Campsall

Television match official: John Burtenshaw

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