Harlequins v Bath Anglo Welsh LV= Cup preview

Bath have made three changes to the side that beat Gloucester last week for their Anglo Welsh LV= Cup Semi-final against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.

All three changes come in the front row, with Nathan Catt and Samoan international Anthony Perenise coming in for Paul James and David Wilson, who are both involved in the Six Nations this weekend, and Ross Batty replacing the injured Rob Webber at hooker.

Last week’s Aviva Premiership Man of the Match Dominic Day is again selected alongside Dave Attwood in a heavyweight lock pairing, with Francois Louw leading the side from the blindside, Carl Fearns on the openside and Ben Skirving completing the pack from the base of the scrum.

Tom Heathcote, nominated once again for the LV= Breakthrough Player Award, is partnered by 98 times capped Peter Stringer in the half-backs, whilst Tom Biggs and Horacio Agulla are named out wide on the wings.

Kyle Eastmond and Matt Banahan continue to build their impressive partnership in the midfield, with Nick Abendanon completing the line-up.

On the bench, there is a return from injury for lock and Club captain Stuart Hooper, and Argentinian international hooker Eusebio Guinazu could make his first appearance in the blue, black and white if called upon.

In terms of recent form Harlequins lost 16-27 at home to Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership Rugby on Saturday, the first time since April 2012 that they had obtained no league points from a home game in any tournament.

Quins were the only side to finish the pool phase of the LV= Cup this season with a played four, won four

Harlequins have won their last two semi-final encounters in the European Challenge Cup and Premiership respectively, but were defeated 20-21 at home to Newcastle Falcons in March 2011, in their only previous appearance in the last four of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Bath Rugby have lost just one of their last eight matches in all competitions: 23-25 at Northampton in the Premiership on 23 February.

Bath’s only defeat in the LV= Cup this season was coincidentally to Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop, 12-21 on 16 November. Bath have lost their last four semi-final ties in all tournaments, whilst this is their 3rd appearance at this stage in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Bath won their most recent fixture with Harlequins, 21-18 at The Rec in the Premiership on 23 November. Bath have not been victorious at the Stoop since a 24-18 win in the European Challenge Cup on 9 December 2006.

The two clubs have met in two previous semi-final ties, both in the Pilkington Cup at The Stoop with Bath victorious on both occasions: 26-25 in 1994 and 31-13 in 1995.

Meanwhile Harlequins have named a team which which blends youth with experience, sees 16 of the match day squad under the age of 23.

Ross Chisholm starts at full-back and is joined in the back three by Tom Williams and Sam Smith. Tom Casson partners George Lowe in the centres, while Ben Botica is named at fly-half.

In the forwards, Will Collier starts at tight head, with Sam Twomey and Charlie Matthews named in the second row. Captain Luke Wallace starts at openside flanker and is joined in the back row with Maurie Fa’asavalu and Tom Guest.

Among the replacements, Charlie Walker will look to make his first senior appearance of the season.

Match : Harlequins v Bath Rugby
Date : Saturday 9/4/2012
Venue : Twickenham Stoop,
Kick Off : 12.15pm.
Live on: Sky Sports
Match Officials
: Leighton Hodges (WRU) 10th competition game.
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell, Wayne Davies (WRU).
TMO: Andrew Small (RFU)



15. Ross Chisholm , 14. Tom Williams

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