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- Aviva Premiership
- 28th Feb 2014
- KO 19:45
- Ground: The Recreation Ground
- Att: 12,100
Aviva Premiership: Bath host Saracens at The Rec on Friday night
Third-placed Bath host second-placed Saracens in a mouth-watering Aviva Premiership clash at The Rec on Friday night.
Saracens sit a point behind leaders Northampton going into the game, with opponents Bath a further nine points behind.
While Saracens have only tasted defeat once in their last nine Premiership encounters since October, Mark McCall's side face a tough task against a Bath outfit who have won their last seven matches in all competitions since drawing at Leicester in the Premiership on 5th January.
Bath are also one of only two sides to have a 100 percent winning record at home this season - the other being the Saints - but Sarries will be confident given they have been victorious on their last four trips to The Rec.
The visitors have also won their last seven fixtures against their opponents since Bath won 16-14 at Vicarage Road on 28th February 2010.
Bath have made seven changes to their starting side for this clash.
In the pack, Ross Batty is joined in the front-row by Paul James and Anthony Perenise, and Dave Attwood returns from England duty to partner Dominic Day in the engine room.
Francois Louw captains the side from the openside flank as Alafoti Fa'osiliva comes in for the injured Matt Garvey.
Peter Stringer and George Ford are both recalled to the starting line-up to renew their half-back partnership, with Matt Banahan the only other change to the back line, who replaces Horacio Agulla on the wing.
For Saracens, England international winger David Strettle will make his 100th appearance for the club, with the Premiership's leading try scorer returning to the starting XV after being rested for the 23-10 win against Exeter.
Strettle replaces Chris Ashton (rested) on the right wing, with Chris Wyles retaining his place on the left wing. Alex Goode returns to the side at full-back to make up the back three.
Elsewhere in the backs, Joel Tomkins retains his place in the Saracens midfield after the outside centre started his first game for the club in 16 weeks last weekend - he is partnered by Brad Barritt.
In the halves, Charlie Hodgson and Neil de Kock start at outside half and scrum half respectively, in a half-back pairing that has made 345 Premiership appearances between them.
In the pack, lock forward Steve Borthwick returns to the side as captain to face his old club - he is partnered by George Kruis in the second row.
In the front row, Mako Vunipola replaces Richard Barrington with Schalk Brits and James Johnston continuing at hooker and tighthead prop.
Jacques Burger wears the number seven shirt as Kelly Brown takes his place on the Saracens replacements bench. Jackson Wray and Ernst Joubert complete the back-row.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Marcelo Bosch.
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|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle Falcons 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester Tigers 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle Falcons 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|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|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com