Bath v Saracens - Aviva Premiership match preview

Last updated: 21st December 2012   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Alex Goode of Saracens runs with the ball during the Heineken Cup

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Nick Abendanon: Back at full-back for Bath

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Bath have made six changes to the starting line-up which thumped Calvisano last weekend for Saturday's Aviva premiership showdown with Saracens.

Nick Abendanon returns at full-back with Horacio Agulla, fresh from a hat-trick, and Tom Biggs starting on the wings. Kyle Eastmond is retained at outside centre with Ben Williams inside him. Stephen Donald and Michael Claassens continue their half-back partnership.

Paul James and Lee Mears both come back into the front row, packing down alongside David Wilson. Captain Stuart Hooper also returns to the starting line-up, partnering Dominic Day in the second row.

Simon Taylor shifts to No 8, with Francois Louw coming in on the blindside and Guy Mercer taking the openside.

Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Munster last weekend.

In the backs, Alex Goode and Brad Barritt are rested which sees Chris Wyles start at full-back and Charlie Hodgson named at fly-half. Owen Farrell switches to inside centre.

In the forwards, Mako Vunipola starts the match with Rhys Gill switching to the bench. Andy Saull also returns after missing last week with a hamstring injury.

Ernst Joubert, Jackson Wray, Alistair Hargreaves, Joe Maddock, Adam Powell, Jacques Burger and Justin Melck all miss the match through injury.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Dan Hipkiss.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 James Short.

What they said...

Bath head coach Gary Gold

"It's probably going to be up there with the ultimate test - Saracens are an outstanding team. They are competitive in Europe and competitive in the Premiership. They were Premiership winners a few years ago and every single game they play, they expect to win."

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