Bath Rugby v London Irish Premiership Preview

Bath Rugby host Saracens at the Recreation Ground

Bath have named Ollie Devoto in their team to play London Irish in tomorrow’s Aviva Premiership encounter at the Rec.

Max Lahiff, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas start in the front row, bolstered in the engine room by Charlie Ewels and Dominic Day.

Openside Francois Louw captains the team, in a back row also featuring blindside Matt Garvey and number eight Amanaki Mafi.

Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland returns from Six Nations duty to partner scrum-half Chris Cook in the half-backs.

Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto form an exciting midfield partnership, whilst wings Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni are joined in the back three by fullback Tom Homer.

Bath Rugby have won just one of their last nine matches in all competitions: 16-14 at Worcester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 13th February.

Bath’s home form has deserted them this campaign recording just two victories and tallying only 11 league points from their six games at the Recreation Ground in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

London Irish have lost their last three matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby since beating Worcester at Madejski Stadium in round 11, whilst the Exiles only away win in any tournament in the last twelve months came when they visited Agen in the European Challenge Cup in January.

Bath have won 11 of their last twelve encounters with London Irish over the past seven seasons – the reversal was 29-22 at Reading in September 2012.

London Irish have not been victorious at the Recreation Ground since winning there 16-0 in Premiership Rugby in November 2009.

London Irish have made five changes and Alex Lewington has recovered from a broken thumb and comes in for Andrew Fenby on the wing, while Fergus Mulchrone makes way for Johnny Williams at inside centre.

Fly-half Greig Tonks, who made the switch from Edinburgh Rugby earlier this week, is amongst the replacements.

Meanwhile, a knee injury rules Samoan international Ofisa Treviranus out of the contest, with Rob McCusker getting the nod at No.8. Second-row Matt Symons and blindside flanker Ian Nagle return to the pack as the Exiles vie for crucial Premiership points against a Bath outfit looking to bounce back from successive defeats.

Assistant coach Richard Whiffin said: “Bath have some big ball carriers in their ranks, which will give them a lot of go-forward upfront. Equally, they have a lot of talent in the backline with the likes of Kyle Eastmond, Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan – the names just roll off the tongue.

“We know they are a good team, but we feel that if we impose our game on them then we can certainly put them under pressure and really take it to them.

“It’s great to see Alex Lewington back in the side, but it will be two or three weeks before a few of the other lads return from injury.”

Match: Bath Rugby v London Irish
Date : Saturday 5 March
Venue : Recreation Ground,
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :JP Doyle (107th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: David Grashoff.

Teams

Bath

15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 1 Max Lahiff, 2 Rob Webber, 3 Henry Thomas, 4 Charlie Ewels, 5 Dominic Day, 6 Matt Garvey, 7 Francois Louw ( c ), 8 Amanaki Mafi

Replacements : 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Beno Obano, 18 David Wilson, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Guy Mercer, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Horacio Agulla

London Irish

15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Tom Smallbone, 2 David Paice, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Matt Symons, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Ian Nagle, 7 Luke Narraway (c), 8 Rob McCusker

Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

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