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Preview: Bath v Exeter Chiefs

26th October 2012 10:33

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Carl Fearns in action for Bath

Back in: Carl Fearns

Bath will be looking to build on their back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup wins this weekend as they return to Premiership action against Exeter.

Carl Fearns returns to the starting Bath line-up, teaming up with Francois Louw and Ben Skirving in the back-row, as Dominic Day and Dave Attwood continue in the engine room.

Paul James and David Wilson, selected in the Wales and England squads respectively for November, pack down either side of Lee Mears.

Try-scorers against Agen, Michael Claassens and Stephen Donald renew their half-back partnership. Another try-scorer from that game, Kyle Eastmond, lines up on the wing with Tom Biggs on the opposite side. Ben Williams and Dan Hipkiss start in the centres, as Nick Abendanon completes the line-up at full-back.

There are also two notable additions to the bench, as club captain Stuart Hooper makes his first appearance since the game against Sale Sharks four weeks ago, and Horacio Agulla could make his first appearance after completing his international duty with Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

"Exeter have had a run of really hard games, and they will be smarting after the two losses in the Heineken Cup and looking to get back on track," said Forwards Coach Neal Hatley.

"They work harder for each other than most and get good reward from it. We're under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge that awaits us on Saturday."

Meanwhile, Exeter boss Rob Baxter has recalled Australian international Dean Mumm - who was forced to miss last weekend's game because of family reasons - who returns in the second-row in place of club captain Tom Hayes.

On the wing Argentine speedster Gonzalo Camacho makes his first appearance of the season as he gets the nod over Ulsterman Ian Whitten.

Whitten is joined on the bench by scrum-half Kevin Barrett, who comes in for the injured Will Chudley, whilst Academy product Dave Ewers offers options in the back-row.

"We've had a nice, energetic training week and we've seemed to have flown through the whole week," explained Baxter.

"You can see the boys are keen to get back into action and get after these games. We've enjoyed the period we have been through so far, but we're keen to keep moving forward. Yes, they've been tough games, but we've enjoyed it and I think getting into Bath away, another tough fixture, and one which we can't say we have performed all that well in before, it's represents another great challenge for us.

"They [Bath] are doing well; they are in the top half of the league; they've had a couple of good wins in the Amlin and they're very confident right now, so that makes them a dangerous side."

Form: Bath Rugby have won three of their last four games in all competitions, but have been victorious just once in their last four Aviva Premiership encounters: 31-10 at home to Sale in round five. Bath's only reversal in their last four clashes at The Rec was 14-18 to table topping Northampton on 14 September. Exeter Chiefs have won two of their last three matches in the Premiership, but have slipped to five straight defeats away from home in all competitions since beating Worcester 31-26 at Sixways on 14 April. Exeter have not beaten Bath in a competitive game since a 1st round tie at the County Ground in the John Player Cup on 28 January 1978.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.

Date: Saturday, October 27
Kick-off: 14:30 BST
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe
Television match official: Geoffrey Warren
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant

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Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
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PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821