Aviva Premiership - Round 1
Henson benched for Bath opener
ESPN Staff
September 5, 2013
Gavin Henson will hope to make headlines for the right reasons on Friday night © Getty Images

Bath have named Gavin Henson among their replacements for the opening match of the 2013-14 Aviva Premiership season.

Dean Richards' Newcastle Falcons host the West Country side at Kingston Park on Friday evening and they will be hoping to kick-start their return to the top flight with a victory as they will come up against a Bath side featuring five debutants in their starting line-up.

Ex-Tigers fly-half George Ford is handed the fly-half reigns while ex-London Irish flyer Anthony Watson starts at fullback. He is joined in the backs by Jonathan Joseph, who played alongside Watson at the Exiles, while debuts are also handed to Matt Garvey at blindside and Leroy Houston at No.8.

And all eyes will be on Henson if he gets his opportunity from the bench. He had a high profile start to his career at the Rec when he was on the wrong end of a Carl Fearns punch on a team social but with the matter now said to be behind the pair, Henson will be concentrating on making headlines for all the right reasons on the turf. He is joined by two more of Bath's signings on the bench - Micky Young and Alafoti Fa'osiliva.

For the Falcons, they hand debuts to six of their summer signings with former Scotland internationals Mike Blair and Phil Godman forming a new-look partnership at half-back. Ex-Munster back Danny Barnes gets the nod in the centres.

In the pack, Franck Montanella starts at loosehead with Dom Barrow and Andy Saull coming into the back-row. Ally Hogg skippers the side in Will Welch's absence. And Richards is hoping his side will have enough experience to contend with the threat posed by Bath.

"When you look at the likes of Carlo del Fava, Mike Blair, Phil Godman, Andy Saull and Adam Powell to name but a few, we have lads who have been involved at the highest level," Richards said. "All of these players have been there, seen it and done it on the big stage.

"Looking at the side that we have now, we have a far more balanced team than we've had for a little while, and that balance of youth and experience will serve us well. It's consistency throughout the year which is going to be the biggest and most difficult thing because the Aviva Premiership isn't just about the odd game, and that's one of the most exciting things about it."

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