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Preview: Leicester v Bath

03rd January 2014 09:52

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Toby Flood Leicester AVP 2013

Toby Flood: Starts at 12 for Tigers

Toby Flood returns to captain Leicester Tigers in Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash with Bath at Welford Road.

Club captain and first-choice fly-half Flood is back in action after missing two league games due to injury and takes the number 12 shirt after Dan Bowden was ruled out by fractures to cheekbone and eye-socket during the match against Sale Sharks last Saturday.

Anthony Allen is still on his way back to full fitness after a calf muscle injury.

Miles Benjamin returns on the wing, Jordan Crane starts at number eight and former Bath hooker Rob Hawkins is included in the squad for the first time this season on his recovery from injury.

Meanwhile, Nick Abendanon comes in at full-back for Bath. His selection means that in-form youngster Anthony Watson shifts to the right wing, with former Tiger Horacio Agulla taking a spot on the bench.

The midfield partnership of Jonathan Joseph and Kyle Eastmond is selected once again, as is Matt Banahan out wide on the left. George Ford and Peter Stringer will reunite at half-back, as Martin Roberts moves from the starting XV to the bench.

The pack remains unchanged from the unit that faced Northampton last week. Bath will field an all international front row of Paul James, Rob Webber and Anthony Perenise. Dave Attwood will again partner skipper Stuart Hooper at lock as Matt Garvey, Francois Louw and Carl Fearns make up the back-row.

Form: Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last eight matches in all tournaments came at Saracens in Premiership Rugby on December 21. Tigers have lost just one of their last thirteen encounters at Welford Road in all competitions: 16-23 to Harlequins on November 2. Bath Rugby's 25-43 loss at Northampton on Saturday ended an eleven game winning run in all tournaments. Bath have not lost back to back Premiership matches since December 2012. The last five encounters between the two clubs in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day, and in four of those the loser gained a bonus point. Bath have visited Welford Road on 17 previous occasions in the Premiership and won just once: 13-12 on November 29 2003.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Toby Flood (c), 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 David Mélé, 22 Scott Hamilton, 23 Matt Smith.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Date: Sunday, January 5
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Venue: Welford Road
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Gareth Copsey.
Television match official: Geoff Warren

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954