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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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Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com