Preview: Premiership, Round Six
Springbok flank Francois Louw is back for Bath's big West Country derby with Gloucester at the Recreation Ground on Friday.
Springbok flank Francois Louw is back for Bath's big West Country derby with Gloucester at the Recreation Ground on Friday.
With the ranks further boosted ahead of Friday's clash, centre Matt Banahan has every confidence Bath can continue their pursuit of a top-four place.
"Form goes out the window when you play a local derby on a Friday night, under the lights so we're going to have to be at the top of our game," he added.
"We're happy with the way we kept our momentum going during the European break, picking up two important wins and putting ourselves in control of our group.
"And now we want to keep going in the Premiership. It's an exciting time for the club, there's a lot of competition for places and everyone is raising their game.
"Gloucester will be up for it. Maybe they haven't started the season as well as they've liked but in a game like this they will raise their game and we have to be ready for them," he said.
Banahan admitted the wealth of talent in the Bath backline leaves him beaming from ear to ear - and he's convinced his own try-scoring tally will be boosted as a result.
The summer arrivals of George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Gavin Henson and Anthony Watson have boosted a set of backs that already contained the likes of Banahan, Kyle Eastmond, Tom Biggs and Semesa Rokoduguni.
Three wins and a draw from their opening five Premiership matches leaves Bath in fourth place ahead of Friday's clash with Gloucester, and adds currency to the debate that the good times are on their way back to the Rec.
Banahan has played a significant role, whether it be on the wing or at centre, scoring a crucial try in the 27-20 victory over Leicester Tigers - and he's determined to add plenty more before the season is out.
"It's fantastic to see so much talent at this club, obviously every season is different but there is a huge amount of positivity at the club at the moment," he said.
"Even in training, it's fantastic to see some of the things that these new players can do, it leaves you with a smile on your face.
"And it obviously brings competition for places and makes you raise your game and on a personal level, it leaves me thinking that I will get plenty more chances to cross the whitewash and it's up to me to take them.
"The really pleasing thing about it is that it has made the players who have been here for a while, maybe what you would call squad players, really raise their game and push the whole club further," he added.
We take a look at all of the matches:
Friday, October 25
Bath v Gloucester
(The Recreational Ground - Kick-off: 19.45; 19.45 GMT)
Bath were victorious in their opening two Challenge Cup ties against Bordeaux-Begles and Newport Gwent Dragons.
Bath’s last four matches in the Premiership have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst they have a 100 per cent winning record in the Premiership at The Rec in 2013.
Gloucester’s most recent Premiership encounter ended in a 12-29 defeat at home to Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester’s only victory in their last seven away matches in all competitions was 22-16 at Newcastle Falcons in Round Four of the Premiership.
Bath have won their last two fixtures with Gloucester in all tournaments whilst Gloucester’s recent record at The Rec is a creditable won 3,lost 2.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Horacio Agulla.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Tom Savage (captain), 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 James Gibbons, 19 Will James, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Charlie Sharples, 23 Akapusi Qera.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Paul Burton Paul Dix
TMO: Sean Davey
Saturday, October 26
Exeter Chiefs v Worcester Warriors
(Sandy Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Exeter Chiefs’ solo defeat in their last four Premiership encounters was 9-21 at home to Leicester in Round Four. This remains the Chiefs only loss at Sandy Park in any tournament since March.
Worcester Warriors have not won a game in any competition since London Wasps visited Sixways on March 1. The Warriors have won only one of their last 35 away games in the Premiership since April 2009: 6-0 at Wasps on New Year’s Day 2012.
Exeter have won all four previous fixtures with Worcester in the Premiership, whilst the Warriors most recent triumph in Exeter came at the old County Ground in National League One in March 2004.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Don Armand, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Tom James.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jonny Arr,8 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Richard de Carpentier, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Jeremy Becasseau, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Chris Jones, 21 Jeremy Su'u, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Ben Howard.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Sainsbury
Harlequins v Sale Sharks
(Twickenham Stoop - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Harlequins have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions since their Premiership victory at Worcester on September 20.
The Londoners have lost successive matches in the Premiership at the Twickenham Stoop but have not been defeated in three consecutive games in the tournament at the venue in the same season since they were relegated in season 2004/05.
Sale Sharks have won their last three encounters in all competitions against Bath, Biarritz and Worcester, and have won two of their last three away matches.
The last time the clubs faced each other was in the final of last season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup which Harlequins won 32-14 at Worcester to record a seventh straight defeat of the northerners.
Sale’s most recent victory at The Stoop was 29-19 in the European Challenge Cup in December 2009.
Harlequins: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Ugo Monye, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Ben Botica, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (captain), 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Danny Care, 22 Paul Sackey, 23 Charlie Walker.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Mark Easter 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Tom Holmes, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Andy Forsyth.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden , Stuart Terheege
TMO: Graham Hughes
Northampton Saints v Saracens
(Franklin's Gardens - Kick-off: 15.15; 15.15)
Northampton Saints have won their last four games at Franklin’s Gardens in all competitions since Leicester Tigers won there in March.
The Saints have lost just one Premiership game this season: 24-26 at Gloucester in Round Three.
Saracens’nail biting 16-17 loss to Toulouse at Wembley on Saturday was their first defeat since last season’s Premiership semifinal, against Northampton.
Sarries have lost only once away from home in the Premiership since early February: 23-28 at Gloucester in April.
The Saints’ victory at Allianz Park in May ended a three game losing run to Saracens, including a 16-6 victory on their most recent visit to Franklin’s Gardens a day short of 12 months ago.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (captain), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Dom Waldouck, 23 James Wilson.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle; 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mourtiz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Ben Ransom.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff
Sunday, October 27
London Wasps v Leicester Tigers
(Adams Park - Kick-off: 14.00; 14.00 GMT)
London Wasps have won three of their last four matches in all competitions, but in the Premiership the Londoners have managed only one win in their last twelve games: 32-16 at home to Worcester in Round Four.
Leicester Tigers have lost just once in the Premiership since April: 27-20 at Bath in Round Two.
The Tigers have tallied at least one league point from every game in the competition since Round Four last season.
The last 10 encounters between the two clubs since September 2008 have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Leicester have not been victorious at Adams Park since September 30, 2007.
London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Chris Bell (captain), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 James Haskell, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Terrence Hepetema, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 David Mélé, 9 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Decaon (captain), 3 Logovi'I Mulipola, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Pablo Matera, 22 Miles Benjamin, 23 Sam Harrison.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Andy Watson, Roger Baileff
TMO: Geoff Warren
Newcastle Falcons v London Irish
(Kingston Park - Kick-off: 15.00; 15.00 GMT)
Newcastle Falcons won their most recent Premiership fixture, 16-11 at Worcester on October 5, a second victory in the tournament since they were promoted at the end of last season.
The Tynesiders have lost their last three Premiership encounters played at Kingston Park, since they beat Sale Sharks there, 22-19, in March 2012.
London Irish have recorded three straight victories in all competitions against Harlequins, Italian side Prato and Portuguese outfit Lucitanos.
The Exiles only victory away from home in their last six trips in the Premiership was 20-18 at Worcester in Round Two.
Newcastle’s 19-10 win in February 2012 was their first over London Irish in six encounters. The Irishmen’s only victory at Kingston Park since 2008 was 46-12 in the Premiership in September 2010.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Catterick, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg (captain), 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Dom Barrow, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Will Welch, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 James Fitzpatrick.
London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Chris Hala'ufia 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Ian Gough, 6 Blair Cowan, 4 George Skivington (Captain), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19Bryn Evans, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce, Gordon Goodliffe
TMO: Keith Lewis