Gloucester v Bath Anglo Welsh LV= Cup preview

Bath have brought back big hitting back row Carl Fearns for their Anglo Welsh LV= Cup match against West Country rivals Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday.


Fearns will be joined in the back row by Ben Skirving and Francois Louw, while Dominic Day and Dave Attwood form a heavy, powerful partnership in the engine room.


The front row sees England international Rob Webber start his second consecutive match after returning from long term injury.


He was excellent in his Bath debut last week and will look to improve on that tomorrow with Charlie Beech and Anthony Perenise by his side at loosehead and tighthead prop.


After a dream debut last week versus Exeter, Ireland international Peter Stringer is selected to partner All Black Stephen Donald in the half-backs, while Sam Vesty and Matt Banahan form a midfield replete with experience and brute force.


Electric young talent Olly Woodburn sits on the left wing, with Argentinian international Horacio Agulla on the right, and Bath stalwart Nick Abendanon returns at fullback.


Gloucester’s last seven encounters in the tournament since they won the 2011 final have all been won by the home side on the day.


Gloucester’s only defeat in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Kingsholm was to Cardiff Blues (25-26) on 8 November 2009.


Bath Rugby are attempting to reach a second successive Anglo Welsh LV= Cup semi-final and need to outscore Northampton by at least one match point to do so.


Bath have won their last three matches in all competitions but all three have been at The Rec.


Bath’s only victory on the road since October was 39-5 at Calvisano in the European Challenge Cup on 15 December.


Bath have won just one of their last ten encounters with Gloucester in all competitions: 24-8 at The Rec in the Premiership on 27 December 2009. Bath’s most recent victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm was 18-15 in the Premiership in February 2006.


The two teams have met twice before in this tournament: Bath winning 21-12 at The Rec in December 2005 and Gloucester victorious at Kingsholm )30-12) a year later.


Tight head prop Rupert Harden will make his first appearance for more than a month in a much changed Gloucester line up from the one that started at Northampton Saints last Saturday.


There are only half a dozen players retained – Ryan Mills, Shane Monahan, Tim Molenaar, Lua Lokotui, Peter Buxton and Andy Hazell.


Gloucester can’t make the semi final stages after last week’s defeat, but are looking for a strong performance to build momentum ahead of next week’s return to Aviva Premiership action.


And, according to Forwards Coach Carl Hogg, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber against Bath. “They’re very special fixtures,


Gloucester vs Bath, whether it’s at Kingsholm or the Rec. There’s a traditional local rivalry, a unique occasion, and we’re looking forward to it. “Mathematically, we can’t make it through, but Bath have plenty to play for and I’m sure they’ll bring a strong side up to Kingsholm.


“But we’ll pick a side that will springboard us into next week, and the Premiership fixture against Northampton. We also want to put in a big performance in front of our own supporters. It’s a very important game for us.”


Match : Gloucester Rugby (Pool 1) v Bath Rugby (Pool 4)
Date : Saturday 2nd Feb.
Venue : Kingsholm
Kick Off : 2pm.
Live on: N/A
Match Officials
Referee:
Ian Davies (WRU) 5th competition game.
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Burton.

Teams


Gloucester Rob Cook; Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall (capt), Tim Molenaar, Shane Monahan; Ryan Mills, Jimmy Cowan; Dan Murphy, Huia Edmonds, Rupert Harden; Tom Savage, Lua Lokotui; Peter Buxton, Andy Ha

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