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Aviva Premiership: Bath host Northampton Saints at The Recreation Ground
- Saturday's Premiership preview
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- Tindall makes retirement hint
- Cockerill: Unfinished business
Bath will look to secure an Aviva Premiership play-off berth as they welcome second-placed Northampton Saints at The Recreation Ground on Friday evening.
In a dress rehearsal for the Amlin Challenge Cup final, to be played on May 23, Bath could cement their first Premiership semi-final since 2010 with a bonus-point victory over the Saints.
Victory for Northampton however would confirm a home semi-final for the Saints and Samu Manoa admits they are eager to take their last four clash to Frankin's Gardens.
"This last month is crunch time," the Saints lock told the club's official website. "The boys are really up for it though.
"Bath are a good team and we know it's hard to play down there. They've got a good back line and a heavy forward pack but if we stick to our game plan and break them down, we'll hopefully be alright.
"We don't know yet who we are going to have in the semi but we want to be at home and performing well. That's important to us."
The hosts enter Friday's showdown as the form side having won their last four matches in all competitions, although Northampton have prevailed in the last five meetings between the sides.
Jim Mallinder's Saints recently bucked a three-match losing streak with victory over London Irish in their most recent domestic outings, while an 18-10 triumph over Harlequins in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup added extra momentum.
Friday's showdown could be a final appearance on home soil for Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, who joins Clermont next season, and the 27-year-old admits he is dreaming of a winning finale.
"No matter what happens I can certainly say that I have had a great time at Bath but, having said that, I would love nothing more than to end my career here with silverware," he told the club's official website.
"This is such a great Club and is well set up to have success and everyone at the Club is determined to get Bath back to the top.
"We have the Amlin Challenge Cup final to look forward to and now we have to make sure we get into the top four."
Stuart Hooper captain Bath on his 200th appearance and is joined in the second row by the returning Dave Attwood, as Paul James and David Wilson come back to form an all-international front row alongside hooker Rob Webber.
Carl Fearns gets the nod at blindside flanker in place of the injured Matt Garvey, while Guy Mercer lines up on the opposite side and Leroy Houston takes the No 8 jersey.
George Ford is partnered in the half-backs with Micky Young, while Anthony Watson starts and Matt Banahan occupy the wings, with Semesa Rokoduguni opting to feature in Saturday's Army versus Navy clash at Twickenham.
Meanwhile, Saints head coach Mallinder has made five changes to his side, with Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Luther Burrell all returning to the back line.
Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood step up from the bench to take their places in the pack and the latter resumes captaincy duties after watching Northampton's victory over Harlequins from the sidelines.
Bath: 15 Abendanon, 14 Watson, 13Joseph, 12 Devoto, 11 Banahan, 10 Ford, 9 Young; 1 James, 2 Webber, 3 Wilson, 4 Hooper (capt), 5 Attwood, 6 Fearns, 7 Mercer, 8 Houston.
Replacements: 16 Batty, 17 Catt, 18 Perenise, 19 Day, 20 Fa'osiliva, 21 Stringer, 22 Henson, 23 Agulla.
Northampton: 15 Foden, 14 K Pisi, 13 G Pisi, 12 Burrell, 11 Elliott, 10 Myler, 9 Fotuali'I; 1 Waller, 2 McMillan, 3 Ma'afu, 4 Manoa, 5 Lawes, 6 Clark, 7 Wood (capt), 8 Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Haywood, 17 Denman, 18 Mercey, 19 Craig, 20 Dowson, 21 Day, 22 Wilson, 23 Collins.
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|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com