Planet Rugby

Preview: London Welsh v Bath

02nd November 2012 08:39

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Timely return: Matt Banahan

London Welsh will face Bath for the first time ever in league history on Sunday at the Kassam Stadium.

Welsh head coach Lyn Jones makes seven changes to his side. Tom Arscott returns to the side from injury at full-back with Tom Voyce moving to the wing.

There's a change in the centres with Gavin Henson partnering Sonny Parker, while Gordon Ross takes over the number ten jersey and Nick Runciman starts at scrum-half.

There are two changes in the forwards. Tom Bristow starts at loosehead in place of Franck Montanella and Lee Beach comes into the side at number eight for Alfie To'oala.

Welsh take to the field on Sunday with five former Bath players in their starting XV - Nick Scott, Tom Voyce, Paulica Ion, Martin Purdy and captain Jonathan Mills - plus another on the bench in Billy Moss.

The history between the two sides goes back to 1897/98, although they have never before faced each other in the league. They did famously meet in the 1985 John Player Cup final at Twickenham, a game which Bath won.

Meanwhile, Matt Banahan will make his first appearance since the second round of the Premiership on Sunday as he returns to the Bath starting line-up.

Banahan comes into the outside centre shirt, partnering Ben Williams. Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond continue on the wings, with Nick Abendanon at full-back. Stephen Donald and Michael Claassens also continue their half-back partnership.

Anthony Perenise starts at tighthead in place of David Wilson, scrumming down with Lee Mears and Paul James in the front row.

Dominic Day and Dave Attwood combine in the engine room once more. In the back row, injuries to Carl Fearns and Francois Louw see Club captain Stuart Hooper start on the blindside flank, with Will Skuse making his first Premiership start on the openside. Ben Skirving continues at the back of the scrum.

Head Coach Gary Gold has no doubt that Sunday's game will be another tough challenge for Bath, despite recording a 40-31 victory over London Welsh in pre-season.

"I don't think you can really read much into the pre-season result, this will be a very different game. They're a good group of players, are well coached and have a great attitude to work hard for each other - I've been impressed by what they've done this season.

Form:London Welsh have recorded three successive reversals in Aviva Premiership Rugby, since their 29- 19 victory at Sale in round four. Bath have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, but have won just once away from home in the Premiership since February: 24-23 at Worcester on 1 September. The two clubs have not played a competitive match since The Exiles visited The Rec on 14 February 1987 for a John Player Cup 4th round tie, which Bath won 30-4. London Welsh's most recent victory over Bath in a competitive match was 28-18 in February 1979 at Old Deer Park in a first round cup tie.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Nick Scott, 13 Sonny Parker, 12. Gavin Henson, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Nick Runciman, 8 Lee Beach, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Jonathan Mills (c), 5 Matt Corker, 4 Martin Purdy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements:16. Dan George, 17. Bill Moss, 18. Arthur Joly, 19. Adam Brown, 20. Mike Denbee, 21. Tyson Keats, 22. Seb Jewell, 23. James Lewis.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Will Skuse, 6 Stuart Hooper (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Date: Sunday, November 4
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small

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