Bath Rugby v Leeds Carnegie preview

Bath Rugby’s five game losing run came to an end at London Irish on New Year’s Day, whilst Bath’s only win at the Rec in any competition since September was 29-19 over Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 5 November.

Leeds Carnegie began 2011 in the best possible way with a maiden season’s victory in Aviva Premiership Rugby at home against Gloucester. Leeds have won their last three matches in all competitions.

Bath have won their last six encounters with Leeds in all competitions, whilst Leeds have not won at the Rec since 25 November 2005.

Bath will be aiming to build on their narrow victory away to London Irish on New Year’s Day and Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan, believes that the hard work going into training is beginning to pay off come game day, and gives credit to the fantastic effort by the Bath forwards in the second half of the game in Reading.

“How we played in the second half against Irish reflected a lot of the work that’s been done on the training field, particularly up front. We had an edge we sometimes hadn’t had in previous games. There was a confidence that if we got in the right areas of the field then there would always be points available. And the other good thing was that we didn’t panic.

“The forward play was outstanding. How do you come back from 17-6 down? Well, you do it by your forwards getting on the front foot and by not having many unforced errors.

“We’re still good at the wide game, but what we’ve proved is that we have a shorter game that is technically getting better. We’re not there yet because we still made mistakes and it took a while to get going, but it reflects a lot of the good work that Martin Haag has been doing, particularly over the past month.”

Despite being bottom of the table, McGeechan knows that Leeds pose a strong threat, especially after their recent run of results. He also believes that the conditions will be a big influence on the style of rugby that is played.

“We haven’t played Leeds in January for a while. We have played them on dry pitches at the end of the season and the beginning of the season, but this will be different.

“Leeds will have a bit of confidence after beating Gloucester last week, and their two victories in the Amlin Challenge Cup. They played well, and Neil Back has got them very well organised. They do the basics well and when you’re playing in conditions which could be like midwinter, you’ve got to take that on board.”

Leeds coaching duo Neil Back and Andy Key have opted for consistency within the team as they aim to build on this with their first away win of the season and their first at The Rec since the 2005-06 season.

The only change to the squad is on the replacement bench with Alfie To’oala returning to the side in place of Danny Paul.

Match : Bath Rugby v Leeds Carnegie
Date : Saturday 8th January
Venue : Recreation Ground
Kick Off :2.15pm
Referee: JP Doyle (19th Premiership game)


Bath Rugby :15. Jack Cuthbert ,14. Matt Banahan ,13. Olly Barkley ,12. Shontayne Hape ,11. Nick Abendanon ,10. Butch James ,9. Michael Claassens,8. Simon Taylor, 7. Lewis Moody ,6. Luke Watson (C) ,5. Danny Grewcock,4. Stuart Hooper ,3. David Wilson,2. Lee Mears,1. David Barnes

Replacements,16. Pieter Dixon ,17. Duncan Bell ,18. Aaron Jarvis ,19. Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe ,20. Ben Skirving ,21. Chris Cook ,22. Sam Vesty ,23. Matt Carraro

Leeds Carnegie:15. Ceiron Thomas, 14. Lee Blackett, 13. Henry Fa’afili, 12. Scott Barrow, 11. Michael Stephenson, 10. Lachlan MacKay, 9. Warren Fury, 1. Gareth Hardy, 2. Steve Thompson, 3. Phil Swainston, 4. Tom Denton, 5. Marco Wentzel (c), 6. Rhys Oakley, 7. Hendre Fourie, 8. Daniel Browne

16. Phil Nilsen, 17. Mike MacDonald, 18. Gareth De

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