Saracens v Bath Rugby Premiership Preview

Saracens host Bath at Allianz Park

Bath have named New Zealander Dan Bowden to make his Aviva Premiership debut for the club against Saracens at Allianz Park.

Bowden makes his Bath bow at inside centre for the meeting with the reigning English champions, as Matt Banahan moves from wing to thirteen.

Rhys Priestland and Chris Cook make their third outing together in the half-backs, following successful forays in the wins against Worcester Warriors and London Irish earlier in the season.

The back three sees the return of Tom Homer at fullback, whilst Horacio Agulla is named on the left wing alongside recent England call-up Semesa Rokoduguni at fourteen.

Rob Webber makes his 70th career appearance for the Club, as Nick Auterac and Henry Thomas pack down either side of the hooker. Charlie Ewels and Dominic Day are back in the second row after a strong showing against Toulon last weekend.

Francois Louw captains the side at openside flanker, joined in the back row by Matt Garvey and Leroy Houston.

Saracens were the only side to conclude the pool phase of the European Champions Cup winning all six games.

Saracens only defeat in their last 18 first team games was 23-29 at Harlequins in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 9 January.
Bath Rugby have slipped to four straight defeats in all tournaments since their 21-14 victory at home to Worcester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 27th December.

Bath’s only away victory in Premiership Rugby this season was 45-14 at London Irish on 7 November.

Bath have won just one of their last 11 encounters with Saracens including last season’s Premiership Rugby final: 21-11 at Recreation Ground in October 2014, whilst Bath have not been successful on Saracens soil since a trip to Vicarage Road in February 2010.

Saracens have been able to name Jacques Burger in their team for the first time since November.

The Namibian loose forward will line up alongside Jackson Wray (No8) and Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) in the Sarries back row.

Elsewhere in the Saracens pack, Richard Barrington comes into the starting XV at loosehead prop, whilst Schalk Brits recovers from a slight knock that kept the Springbok international out of his side’s win away to Toulouse to start at hooker. Petrus Du Plessis starts at tighthead.

At lock, after being released by England coach Eddie Jones, Maro Itoje will start for Saracens and will link up with Jim Hamilton at lock forward.

In the halves, the experienced dup of Richard Wigglesworth and Charlie Hodgson will pair each other at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.

Brad Barritt continues to skipper the side from inside centre and is joined by Marcelo Bosch in the Saracens midfield. Ben Ransom is named at full-back, with Scotland international Duncan Taylor available for selection to start on the right wing, with Chris Wyles named on the left wing.

Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall: “Our attention is solely focussed on a challenging block of Aviva Premiership games throughout the Six Nations. From the beginning of the season we knew this period of the season would be very demanding and we are confident that we have the calibre of players across the squad to thrive during this run of games.

“Bath will be a real test of where we are at squad-wise as they are a quality outfit and we know that they possess some very good players who are capable of winning big games. I’m sure that once again we can expect a fiercely contested clash against Mike Ford’s side.”

Match : Saracens v Bath Rugby
Date : Saturday 30 January
Venue : Allianz Park,
Kick Off : 3.15pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee : Dean Richards (84th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald & Andy Watson
TMO: Geoff Warren.

Teams

Saracens

15 Ben Ransom , 14 Duncan Taylor , 13 Marcelo Bosch , 12 Brad Barritt © , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Charlie Hodgson , 9 Richard Wigglesworth , 8 Jackson Wray , 7 Jacques Burger , 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje , 3 Petrus Du Plessis , 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington

Replacements : 16 Jared Saunders , 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer , 18 Titi Lamositele , 19 Hayden Smith , 20 Kelly Brown , 21 Ben Spencer , 22 Nils Mordt , 23 Nick Tompkins

Bath

15 Tom Homer , 14 Semesa Rokoduguni , 13 Matt Banahan , 12 Dan Bowden , 11 Horacio Agulla , 10 Rhys Priestland , 9 Chris Cook , 1 Nick Auterac , 2 Rob Webber , 3 Henry Thomas , 4 Charlie Ewels , 5 Dominic Day , 6 Matt Garvey , 7 Francois Louw (c) , 8 Leroy Houston

Replacements : 16 Tom Dunn , 17 Max Lahiff , 18 David Wilson , 19 Tom Ellis , 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Alafoti Faosiliva , 22 Jonathan Evans , 23 Max Clark ,

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