Friday, 13 September 2013

Tigers aim to pull the plug on Bath's Gold Rush

A century of Leicester-Bath games is celebrated tomorrow at the Recreation Ground as 100 years and 1 day on from the very first meeting at Welford Road the two sides meet for the 182 time.  That makes this the 5th most popular fixture in Tigers history behind Northampton on 227, Gloucester on 211, Coventry with 204 and Harlequins with 191.  48 of the 181 games between the two sides have been played since August 1995 making this the most common fixture in the professional era.

Tigers make 4 changes from the side that gained the bonus point at home to Worcester.  Scott Hamilton comes into the backline replacing Dan Bowden, this causes a bit of a midfield re-jig as Anthony Allen moves into inside centre and Vereniki Goneva moves from wing to his international position of centre.  Geoff Parling and Louis Deacon miss out through England rest and injure respectively; they are replaced by Ed Slater and Sebastian De Chaves who makes his debut.

In the week the devastating news broke that Tom Croft had damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments in the final throws of last weeks game.  He has already undergone a knee reconstruction and will in all likely hood miss the whole of the season.  This is a crushing blow only 13 games after his come back from a broken neck.

Replacing him in the First XV is Steve Mafi, who himself has started only 2 games since tearing his hamstring against Toulouse in January.

Sam Harrison missed the Worcester match with a back spasm but an impressive run at fly half in Monday's A League fixture has proved his fitness to sit on the bench.  New singing Jamie Gibson could make his debut if he features from the bench.

Bath's only change from the side which defeated Deano's Newcastle Falcons is enforced by injury as cross coder Kyle Eastmond is ruled out and replaced by perma-tanned Gavin Henson.  Henson has had several run ins with the Tigers over the years, who can forget his infamous assault on Alejandro Moreno where he had the cheek to plead not guilty to this assualt:

That video cuts out before he goes on to kick Moreno in the head.  Nice chap.  Maybe Carl Fearns could have a word with him.

Starting at 10 for Bath will be George Ford.  Ford left the Tigers in the summer over "a lack of opportunities" as he had only started 27 games by the age 19, compared to no name nothings like Martin Johnson or Tom Croft who had barely made their debuts by that age let alone played in 3 major finals.  It has taken Bath 10 years to make 3 major finals.

Saturday's referee will be Greg Garner from Coventry.  Garner, who was in the same year at the same school as Andy Goode and James Grindal, will referee Tigers for the 8th time in his career.  Tigers have won 6 out of those 8 games including last season's Premiership semi final victory over Harlequins.

Leicester Tigers
15 Niall Morris
14 Scott Hamilton
13 Vereniki Goneva
12 Anthony Allen (c)
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Ryan Lamb
9 Dave Mélé
1 Logovi'i Mulipola
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Ed Slater
5 Sebastian de Chaves
6 Steve Mafi
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 Neil Briggs
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Jamie Gibson
20 Thomas Waldrom
21 Sam Harrison
22 Owen Williams
23 Dan Bowden

Bath Rugby
15 Anthony Watson
14 Semesa Rokoduguni
13 Jonathan Joseph
12 Gavin Henson
11 Matt Banahan
10 George Ford
9 Peter Stringer
1 Paul James
2 Rob Webber
3 David Wilson
4 Stuart Hooper (c)
5 Dave Attwood
6 Matt Garvey
7 Guy Mercer
8 Leroy Houston

16 Ross Batty
17 Nathan Catt
18 Anthony Perenise
19 Dominic Day
20 Alafoti Fa'osiliva
21 Micky Young
22 Tom Heathcote
23 Tom Biggs



TV: BT Sports 1 HD, Saturday 14th September 3PM (3:15PM KO)

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