Bath v London Irish, Avivia Premiership, September 11
In-form Bath welcome confident Exiles
September 10, 2010
Bath captain Luke Watson directs his side, Leeds Carnegie v Bath, Aviva Premiership, Headingley, England, September 5, 2010
Can Bath skipper Luke Watson steer his side to back-to-back victories? © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

If round one of the Aviva Premiership was anything to go by then there should be plenty of fireworks at the Rec on Saturday as Bath entertain London Irish.

The home side were in fine form as they dispatched Leeds at Headingley last weekend but they will face an Exiles side riding high after they shocked title front-runners Saracens in the opening game of the London Double Header at Twickenham, racking up a bonus-point.

Bath - Player to Watch: Olly Barkley is back in the Bath midfield and will be hoping to catch the eye of England manager Martin Johnson - for all the right reasons.

Bath - Team News: Barkley's return to action sees Shontayne Hape switch to outside centre and Matt Banahan revert back to the wing despite a strong showing in the No.13 shirt last time out.

London Irish - Player to Watch: Openside Steffon Armitage had a relatively quiet game at Twickenham with his brother earning the plaudits so expect him to step it up this weekend.

London Irish - Team News: Head coach Toby Booth has opted for the same matchday squad beat Saracens including the in-form back three of Sailosi Tagicakibau, Delon Armitage and Topsy Ojo.

Key Battle: Bath's backrow of blindside Simon Taylor, openside Lewis Moody and No.8 Luke Watson is enough to strike fear into any side but don't expect them to get everything their own way with the likes of Armitage, Declan Danaher and George Stowers around.

Trivia: No fewer than five current or past academy players make up a strong Irish bench that also includes the international duo of Nick Kennedy and Seilala Mapusua.

Stats: Bath are chasing their 100th Premiership victory at the Rec. Their current record stands at won 99, drawn 9, lost 37.

Quote Unquote:

"The last four premiership matches between us and Irish have gone with the away team, which is certainly a trend we wouldn't mind stopping this weekend!" - Bath coach Steve Meehan wants to rip up the formbook.

"Both teams like to get their hands on the ball and play positive rugby and I am sure that will make for an entertaining afternoon for both sets of supporters." - Exiles boss Toby Booth predicts a feast for the eyes.

Fantasy: It's round two of ESPN Fantasy Rugby this weekend and there are plenty of options available in this one. The London Irish back-three delivered last weekend with both Topsy Ojo and Delon Armitage picking up tries, while Bath's newly-recruited fly-half Sam Vesty was everywhere and picked up a try, five kicks and an assist.

Prediction: Bath were the form side in round one and the return of Barkley adds another dimension to their armoury. But the Exiles also packed a punch last weekend and will fancy their chances. But they will need the ball to do so which is where the hosts will have the edge.


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