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Bath Rugby v Leinster preview: Out-of-sorts Leinster visit the Rec

  • Bath host Leinster in the European Champions Cup at the Recreation Ground this afternoon: 15:15 kick-off
  • Francois Louw will skipper the hosts
  • The visitors make eight changes to the team that was thumped by Wasps last weekend
  • Leinster have won six of their seven matches against Bath, including an 18-15 victory in the 2014/15 quarter-finals
Francois Louw is set to captain Bath as out-of-sorts Leinster visit the Rec for their second-round Champions’ Cup clash this afternoon.

The 43-cap South African, 30, wears the number seven in his side’s first outing in Europe this season, after their tie with Toulon last week was postponed.

Matt Garvey and Number 8 Leroy Houston make up an imposing back row as Dominic Day and Dave Attwood start in the second row. Up top, Nick Auterac and Henry Thomas start alongside hooker Rob Webber.

Chris Cook and George Ford are paired together in the halves for the tie, while ex-Rugby League man Kyle Eastmond and Ollie Devoto start together in midfield.

On the wings are Matt Banahan and Semesa Rokoduguni, with the dangerous Anthony Watson operating from full back.

In a chastened visiting camp, Leinster have unsurprisingly made wholesale changes to the team that crashed to a record home defeat against Wasps last weekend.

Club legend Isa Nacewa is arguably the most notable of the eight changes, returning from injury to captain the side from full back, while Dave Kearney slots in on the left wing, as Fergus McFadden moves from outside centre to the right flank.

Ben Te’o and Luke Fitzgerald both missed the 33-6 reverse against Wasps last weekend, but they are able to start together in the centres for only the second time this season today and should provide a tougher test that their replacements last time out.

Elsewhere, Isaac Boss replaces Eoin Reddan at scrum-half, Johnny Sexton completing the half back combination as the Irish international takes on the fly half position.

Cian Healy has come in in place of Jack McGrath at loosehead and Sean Cronin comes in for Richardt Strauss, while Sean O’Brien is ruled out, so Rhys Ruddock comes in to the staring XV at blindside prop with Jordi Murphy shifting to the openside.


RUCK PREDICTS

With Bath not in action last week after their game with Toulon was postponed, they will be fresh and keen to get their European campaign off to a good start. At home, they can compete with any side and a Leinster outfit who were embarrassed by Wasps last weekend will be all too aware of the task ahead. However, they have every chance of pulling off what would be one of the shocks of the season so far. Leinster by 1.


PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bath: Kyle Eastmond

Much like the rest of his team mates in the 2015/16 season so far, Eastmond has blown hot and cold. The former St. Helens man has not been his usual explosive and skillful self thus far, but a stern test against an unfamiliar opponent could be just what he needs.


 Leinster: Isa Nacewa

A massive boost to today’s travelling fans, Nacewa’s unavailability left a big hole in the Leinster side last week and Wasps took full advantage. The 33-year-old re-signed for the club in the summer after two years away from the game and has already established himself as a key man, the one-cap Fiji international scoring 39 points in five games.


Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9, Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 David Attwood, 4 Dom Day, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa (c), 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Ben Te’o, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Dominic Ryan, 20 Josh Van Der Flier, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: The Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Salem Attalah (France), tbc (France)
TMO: Bruno Bessot (France)