Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Bath

30th November 2012 06:07

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Martin Castrogiovanni Italy 2011

Starting: Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni and Marcos Ayerza return to the Leicester line-up for Saturday's Aviva Premiership match against Bath at Welford Road.

Both props have been on international duty but they return to Tigers colours for the Round 10 fixture against old rivals Bath.

Thomas Waldrom and Anthony Allen, who are both members of the England Elite Player Squad, are also included in Saturday's starting team.

Tigers are without the five players in the England squad and the injured Toby Flood, Logovi'i Mulipola, Steve Mafi, Wessel Jooste and Vereniki Goneva. Miles Benjamin and Tom Croft are working their way back from long-term injury. Boris Stankovich is suspended.

Meanwhile, Bath's internationals Horacio Agulla, Paul James and Francois Louw will be back in action for the West Country side on their away trip.

Agulla, who returns from playing for Argentina, will be making his first start in Bath colours against his old teammates, and he knows that a tough challenge lies ahead.

"It will be a bit strange for me going into the other changing room at Welford Road, but it will be nice to go back. I have a lot of good memories from my time there, but I'm a Bath player now so I want to go up there and hopefully get a good result with the boys.

"We're really looking forward to the game. We had a great win last weekend against Quins, but we know that Leicester are a really good team, so we will need to be 100% on our game."

Agulla takes the outside centre shirt, with Matt Banahan lining up inside him. Having been released by England, Tom Biggs is named on the left wing as Kyle Eastmond continues on the right, and Nick Abendanon starts once again at full-back.

James and Louw, who have been representing Wales and South Africa respectively, both come into the starting line-up.

James props down alongside Lee Mears and Anthony Perenise in the front row, whilst Louw comes in on the blindside flank. Stuart Hooper and Dave Attwood combine once more in the second row, as Guy Mercer and Simon Taylor complete the scrum on the openside and at number 8.

Stephen Donald, who was named Man of the Match in the victory over Harlequins last weekend, renews his half-back partnership with Michael Claassens.

Form: Leicester Tigers have won three of their last five matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby, and have lost just once at Welford Road since last October: 9-22 to Harlequins on 22 September. Bath Rugby's last six fixtures in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day. Bath's only away win since February in the Premiership was 24-23 at Worcester on 1 September. Leicester's only defeat in their last nine Premiership encounters with Bath since 2008 was 25-26 at The Rec last October. Bath have won just once before at Welford Road in this competition: 13-12 on 29 November 2003.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.

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

Date: Saturday, December 1
Kick-off: 12:30
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Alan Hughes
Timekeeper: Trevor Fisher
Assessor: Matthew Peters

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Friday , September 26
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PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39