Preview: Bath v Exeter

Date published: December 26 2014

Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas will start in the front-row for Bath when they take on West Country rivals Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Auterac, Webber and Thomas switch places with Paul James, Ross Batty and David Wilson, who started last Saturday’s victory over Gloucester and are named on the bench.

Elsewhere in the pack Matt Garvey returns to the blindside flank, combining with Francois Louw and Leroy Houston to make up the back-row, and Dominic Day joins captain Stuart Hooper in the engine room once more.

Chris Cook and George Ford continue to control the game from the half-backs, as Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph again form a dangerous midfield. Horacio Agulla comes onto the right wing, with Matt Banahan opposite him on the left and Anthony Watson remains at full-back.

Meanwhile, Chiefs changes see Jack Yeandle and Don Armand recalled to the pack in place of Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ben White.

Behind them the sole change sees Sam Hill returned to the midfield at the expense of Ian Whitten while on the bench, Tomas Francis and Fetu’u Vainikolo are also included ahead of Alex Brown and Adam Hughes.

Form: Bath Rugby have won their last six fixtures in all competitions since their 6-18 defeat at Exeter in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 8th November. Bath are one of two sides to have a 100 percent home winning record in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season- the other being Wasps. Exeter Chiefs’ eight game winning run in all tournaments ended at Sale on Friday evening. The Chiefs have not lost successive Premiership Rugby encounters since May. The two clubs have met on eight previous occasions in Premiership Rugby with Bath undefeated, although they did draw 12-all at Sandy Park on 29th December 2012. The Chiefs only previous competitive victory at The Rec came in last season’s semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Paul James, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Sam Burgess, 22 Micky Young, 23 Ollie Devoto.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Moray Low, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Fetu’u Vainikolo.

Date: Saturday, December 27
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: JP Doyle (87th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton and Roger Baileff
TMO: Geoff Warren