Aviva Premiership - Round 3
Bath change two for visit of Saints
September 14, 2012
Kyle Eastmond keeps his place in the Bath side after scoring a sensational try last weekend © Getty Images
Bath and Northampton Saints will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going in the Aviva Premiership when the pair come face to face at the Recreation Ground on Friday evening.
Something will have to give in the match with both sides two from two in the 2012-13 Premiership season. Bath downed Worcester Warriors in their first match and then backed that up with a win over Wasps at the Rec last Saturday. Kyle Eastmond's superb individual effort was one of the early contenders for try of the season and he retains his spot on the wing for the visit of the Saints. Bath coach Gary Gold has opted to make just two changes to the starting XV that overcame Wasps with Wales Test prop Paul James starting at loose-head and Ben Williams getting the nod at inside centre with Matt Banahan sidelined through injury.
Gold is fully aware of the threats that Northampton pose and he wants his team to build on their opening two performances. "We were pleased with the performance against Wasps, but know there is still more we can do to improve and we have been working hard on this," Gold said. "It's these big games that you want to be involved in - as a player and as a coach - and whilst it will be a big challenge for us tomorrow night, we are looking forward to it."
Standing in their way are the Saints who beat Gloucester at Kingsholm in their season opener and then edged their way past Exeter last Sunday. They are without suspended No.8 GJ van Velze so Rhys Oakley comes into the back-row. Elsewhere, Stephen Myler starts in place of Ryan Lamb while Luther Burrell replaces the injured George Pisi. Tom Mercey replaces Brian Mujati in the front-row with the former Springbok not getting a place in the 23.
In a similar vein to his counterpart Gold, Mallinder wants his side to improve ahead of their match with Bath. "The Rec is always a tough place to play," Mallinder said. "It is a place where the fans are right on top of you and where it can be intimidating for visiting teams. So it is up to us as to how we respond, and we believe that we can do that in the right way.
"At times in our first two games we have played well and scored good tries. But we have also been guilty of not finishing games off and this is something we will be looking to improve."
On Saturday, the ESPN cameras travel slightly north to Worcester to take in the match between the Warriors and Gloucester. Worcester will be looking to bounce back after suffering defeats in their opening two matches while Gloucester will hope to build on their high scoring 40-31 win over London Irish last Saturday.
Gloucester have changed five for the match with debutant Shane Monahan starting on the wing in place of Charlie Sharples. Billy Twelvetrees gets the nod at fly-half with Mike Tindall coming into the centres. In the pack Huia Edmonds and Rupert Harden are handed starts in the front-row. Worcester have also opted to change around their side with Nikki Walker making his debut for the Warriors and Matt Kvesic and Joe Carlisle also starting.
Saturday will also see Saracens return to Wembley where they will host the Leicester Tigers. It will be the club's ninth visit to the north London venue and the last time they played there, they attracted a world record crowd of 83,761. Sarries have rung the changes for the match with Carlos Nieto, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock, Owen Farrell and James Short all come into the line-up. Petrus du Plessis, Will Fraser, Richard Wigglesworth, Charlie Hodgson and Chris Wyles drop to the bench. The Tigers, in contrast, have changed just two for the match with Logo Mulipola and Dan Cole starting in the front-row.
Elsewhere on Saturday, last season's champions Harlequins entertain the Sale Sharks at the Stoop. England scrum-half Danny Care returns to Quins' starting XV with Karl Dickson dropping to the bench. Other changes see Charlie Matthews getting the nod in the second-row and Nick Easter given the No.8 shirt. Sale have also made three alterations in personnel. Tom Brady comes in for his first game of the season, replacing the injured Will Addison, whilst Mark Easter and Mark Jennings are named on the bench.
Wasps will hope to kickstart their new era under their new owners with a win against London Irish at Adams Park. Lions fly-half Stephen Jones is handed his debut in one of five changes to their starting XV. Other alterations see Andrea Masi, Rhys Thomas, Joe Launchbury and Ashley Johnson all starting. James Haskell will have to be content with a place on the bench. The Exiles have opted to name an unchanged XV from their loss to Gloucester last week with Declan Danaher captaining the team.
On Sunday London Welsh will hope to get their first win of the season against Exeter at the Kassam Stadium. Exiles boss Lyn Jones has made just one change to their starting XV with Nick Scott starting on the wing in place of Joe Ajuwa. Jonah Holmes is handed a spot amongst the replacements in place of Nic Runciman.
The Chiefs head into Sunday's encounter having to make one enforced change to their starting line-up as winger Josh Tatupu has been ruled out with a broken ankle. Sireli Naqelevuki is promoted from the bench to start in the centre with Irishman Ian Whitten shifting to the wing. The other change in personnel to the starting XV sees James Hanks come back into the second row at the expense of Aly Muldowney, who fills the void left by Hanks on the bench.
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