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Preview: Bath v Saracens

21st December 2012 10:21

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Bath v Saracens Tom Biggs

Attack: Tom Biggs against Saracens

Bath Rugby have made six changes to the starting line-up that beat Calvisano as they prepare to face Saracens on Saturday.

Nick Abendanon returns at fullback, and Horacio Agulla and Tom Biggs start on the wings. Kyle Eastmond continues at outside centre with Ben Williams inside him. Stephen Donald and Michael Claassens continue their half-back partnership.

Paul James and Lee Mears both come back into the front row, packing down alongside David Wilson. Captain Stuart Hooper also returns to the starting line-up, partnering Dominic Day in the second row.

Simon Taylor shifts to number 8, with Francois Louw coming in on the blindside and Guy Mercer taking the openside.

Meanwhile, Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall makes three changes to the starting line-up that beat Munster last weekend.

In the backs, Alex Goode and Brad Barritt are rested which sees Chris Wyles start at full back and Charlie Hodgson named at fly-half. Owen Farrell switches to inside centre.

In the forwards, Mako Vunipola starts the match with Rhys Gill switching to the bench. Andy Saull also returns after missing last week with a hamstring injury.

Ernst Joubert, Jackson Wray, Alistair Hargreaves, Joe Maddock, Adam Powell, Jacques Burger and Justin Melck all miss the match through injury.

Form: Bath's last seven games in the Aviva Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day. Bath's only defeat in their last eight matches at The Rec in all competitions was 14-18 to Northampton in the Premiership on 14 September. Saracens' last seven encounters in all competitions have also been won by the home side on the day, whilst Sarries have not won away from home since they beat Northampton 16-6 at Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership on 27 October. However, Saracens remain the best away side in the Premiership with 17 league points accumulated on their travels so far. Saracens are in second spot in the table despite scoring and conceding just nine tries in their ten games so far. Bath's only victory in their last seven fixtures with Saracens in all competitions was 16-14 at Vicarage Road in the Premiership on 28 February 2010. Sarries have won on their last three visits to The Rec.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Dan Hipkiss.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 James Short.

Date: Saturday , December 22
Venue: The Rec
Kick-off: 13:15 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Roy Maybank, Gareth Copsey
Television match official: Graham Hughes

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