Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Harlequins

22nd November 2012 12:42

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bath harlequins guy mercer

Openside: Guy Mercer

Bath captain Stuart Hooper returns to the starting line-up for Friday's Premiership clash with Harlequins at the Recreation Ground.

Hooper links up with Dave Attwood in the second row, as Charlie Beech and Anthony Perenise prop down either side of Lee Mears at hooker. Josh Ovens makes his first Premiership start of the season on the blindside flank, with Guy Mercer on the openside and Simon Taylor at number eight.

Michael Claassens and Stephen Donald renew their southern hemisphere half-back partnership, whilst Kyle Eastmond returns to the right wing and Tom Biggs continues on the left. Semesa Rokoduguni is also in line to make his first Premiership start, partnering Matt Banahan in the centres. Nick Abendanon comes in at full-back to complete the line-up.

Meanwhile, Harlequins have made seven changes to the starting line-up that beat Bath in the LV=Cup, with Nick Evans returning at fly-half.

Ugo Monye, George Robson and Jordan Turner-Hall start after being released by England, whilst Evans returns from an ankle injury to partner Karl Dickson at scrum-half.

In the forwards, the front row is unchanged while Captain Nick Easter is joined by Luke Wallace and Tom Guest in the back row.

Among the replacements, Jordan Burns will look to make his first senior appearance for the club, while Rory Clegg and Seb Stegmann cover the backs.

Form: Harlequins have won their last three encounters with Bath, including last weekend's victory at home in the LV=Cup which saw no tries but 21 points from the boot of fly-half Ben Botica. Last season's corresponding fixture at the Rec saw Quins run out 26-13 winners thanks to tries from Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw, who will both be away on duty with England. Bath's last Aviva Premiership match saw them lose out in the closing minutes to an interception score from London Welsh winger Nick Scott.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Semesa Rokoduguni, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Josh Ovens, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Charlie Beech.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sheehan, 17 Alan Cotter, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Ryan Caldwell, 21 Will Skuse, 22 Mark McMillan, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Harlequins: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Ugo Monye, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter (c), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Seb Stegmann.

Date: Friday, 23 November
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff

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