Planet Rugby

Preview: Bath v Leicester

19th April 2013 08:57

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Bath back Ben Williams

In the side: Ben Williams

Centre Ben Williams returns to the Bath starting line-up for Saturday's final home game of the West Country side's season against rivals Leicester.

Williams comes into the outside centre shirt to partner Kyle Eastmond in the midfield, with Semesa Rokoduguni shifting out to the wing. Horacio Agulla lines up against his former team on the opposite wing, with Ollie Devoto at fifteen.

Southern hemisphere duo Michael Claassens and Stephen Donald re-form their half-back partnership for what will be the final time at the Rec as both move on at the end of this season.

There are three other changes as hooker Rob Webber, lock Dominic Day and flanker Guy Mercer all come back into the starting line-up.

Webber takes his place in the front row between international duo Paul James and David Wilson, whilst Day partners Dave Attwood in the engine room. Mercer starts on the openside, with Francois Louw on the blindside and Simon Taylor packing down at number eight.

Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers welcome back Tom Youngs, Geoff Parling and Tom Croft for Saturday's Aviva Premiership Round 21 fixture.

The international trio missed last weekend's bonus-point win over London Wasps but are fit to resume their places in the starting line-up.

Thomas Waldrom starts in the back row and Steve Mafi, who returned from injury with 40 minutes in the home win over Wasps, switches to the second row. Matt Smith is given a starting spot on the wing.

Club captain Geordan Murphy and Dan Bowden are selected among the replacements for the penultimate league match of the season.

"We had a good win last week but the job is not done yet. We need the points to secure a home game in the semi-finals, and Bath are also chasing the wins they need to book a place in Europe next season so it will be a big occasion," said boss Richard Cockerill.

Form: Bath have won their last four Aviva Premiership encounters played at The Rec. Leicester Tigers have reached the Premiership play-offs for a record ninth successive season, whilst another three match points would see them appear in a fifth consecutive home semi-final. The Tigers are the best away side in the Premiership having secured 32 match points on their travels so far this season. Leicester have won their last three encounters with Bath in all competitions but have been victorious just once at the Rec in the Premiership since 2006: 37-6 on March 26, 2011.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ben Williams, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Nick Koster, 22 Peter Stringer, 23 Tom Heathcote.

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Matt Smith, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Fraser Balmain, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.

Date: Saturday, April 20
Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Andrew Pearce
Television match official: Trevor Fisher
Timekeeper: Laurie Bryant
Assessor: Paul Bridgman

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Saturday , November 29
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PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821