Preview: Bath v Wasps

Date published: December 18 2015

Bath have named their team to face Wasps in the second leg of the back-to-back European Rugby Champions Cup fixture at the Rec on Saturday.

The backline is unchanged from the one which defeated Wasps in the final act of last Sunday’s match, with try-scorer Anthony Watson at full-back and Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan (who scored his 25th European try a week ago) on the wings.

Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph – another player who touched down in Bath’s last outing – are named in the midfield, whilst match-winner George Ford is partnered with scrum-half Niko Matawalu once again in the half-backs.

A single change has been made in each row of the pack. Nick Auterac comes into the front-row at loosehead prop, alongside hooker Ross Batty and tighthead David Wilson. Matt Garvey moves up from blindside to the second-row, where he starts alongside Dave Attwood.

In the back-row, Leroy Houston is brought in at blindside, as Francois Louw and David Denton remain at seven and eight respectively.

Meanwhile, there are three changes from the Wasps side that narrowly missed out to Bath at the Ricoh Arena last weekend.

In the backline, Frank Halai’s return to fitness sees him take a spot on the wing, while Jimmy Gopperth starts at fly-half.

In the pack, Lorenzo Cittadini starts in place of the injured Jake Cooper-Woolley, with Phil Swainston covering on the bench.

Ahead of the trip to the West Country, boss Dai Young said he had been pleased with the response from his team following a tough last-minute loss the previous week.

“We were all frustrated with the performance and the manner in which we lost the game last weekend, but everyone has come back to the club with a positive mentality and I’ve been pleased with the reaction we’ve seen from the players this week,” said Young.

“The back-to-back games throw up an interesting battle and both sides will know how the other wants to play, which means we have to be even more clinical and precise with what we are doing.

“We all know how tough it is to win at The Rec, but we go there confident in our game and with the belief that we can get a positive result if things click for us.”

Form: Bath have now won six of their last seven Champions Cup fixtures and have won each of their last three at home. This will be the first time in the Champions Cup that Bath Rugby will host a fellow English side; they have however won five out of five Challenge Cup matches when hosting English teams. Wasps have won three of their last four matches away from home in the Champions Cup, by a margin of 15 points on each occasion. Matt Mullan has made more tackles (36) without missing one than any other player in this season’s Champions Cup.

The teams:

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 David Denton, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer.

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Alapati Leiua.

Date: Saturday, December 19
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Cyril Lafon (France,) Stéphane Boyer (France)
TMO: Eric Gonthier (France)