Preview: Bath v Scarlets

Date published: January 11 2018

Elliott Stooke will make his 50th appearance for Bath against Scarlets in their Champions Cup fixture at the Recreation Ground on Friday.

Stooke starts in the second-row alongside the returning Luke Charteris, whilst Sam Underhill and Matt Banahan both return to the line-up for the crucial European clash.

Banahan comes in on the right wing and will feature in a back three that includes Aled Brew and Anthony Watson. Ben Tapuai and Jonathan Joseph continue in the centres, with Rhys Priestland and Chris Cook at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.

Beno Obano, Tom Dunn and Henry Thomas make up a physical front-row, supported by Stooke and Charteris in the second-row. Fresh from his try-scoring exploits last week, Matt Garvey captains the side at blindside flanker, with Underhill and Zach Mercer completing the back-row trio.

Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has been forced to make changes to the team that will take on Bath following his side’s captain’s run earlier this afternoon.

It had been hoped that both Leigh Halfpenny and Johnny McNicholl would come through late fitness tests but the coaches have been forced to reshuffle the backline as both fail to make a recovery.

Scarlets will head to Bath’s home ground looking for a victory that will keep the West Wales region’s European hopes alive heading into the sixth and final pool game of the competition.

Rhys Patchell, who was named man-of-the-match in last weekend’s victory over Dragons at full-back, replaces Halfpenny with Tom Prydie moving to the right wing replacing McNicholl. Hadleigh Parkes returns to the centre to partner Scott Williams with Paul Asquith moving out to the left wing. Dan Jones regains his fly-half spot with Gareth Davies remaining at scrum-half.

Captain and British & Irish Lion Ken Owens is joined in the front-row by fellow Welsh internationals Rob Evans and Samson Lee whilst Tadhg Beirne and David Bulbring line up in the second-row.

The experienced back-row of Aaron Shingler, James Davies and John Barclay are reunited with the Scarlets looking for an historic away scalp.

Speaking ahead of the European clash, which is expected to attract nearly a thousand Scarlets supporters to the Rec, head coach Wayne Pivac said; “For our group, some of the fundamentals fall away over the Christmas, we’ve had to bring the guys back and work on some of the basics. We’re looking a lot better at training. Those extra few sessions we’ve been able to get in have been quite timely.

“This week is about trying to get our attacking game going again. We just have to look back to when we played them last time. They were more disciplined and more clinical than we were and played the conditions better than we did.

“We’re really looking forward to the occasion. It’s a must win game for both sides. We both know that. It’s like a knock-out game in itself. Competitive people like these sorts of situations so we’re looking forward to it.”

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Matt Garvey (c), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 James Phillips, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 James Wilson

Scarlets: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Will Boyde

Date: Friday, January 12
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
Television match official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

With places in the knockout stages of the European Champions Cup at a premium, the action hots up in the penultimate round of the pool stages. Read our Betsafe preview over at their site.