Bath host Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on Friday evening: 19:45 kick-off
Captain Stuart Hooper returns at lock as one of four changes for the hosts
John Afoa returns to the Cherry and Whites starting XV for the first time since December
Bath Club captain Stuart Hooper will return to his team’s starting XV as one of four changes for their local derby against Premiership rivals Gloucester on Friday.
Hooper partners Wales international Dominic Day in the second row for one of rugby’s oldest rivalries at the Recreation Ground.
Max Lahiff and David Wilson replace Henry Thomas and Nick Auterac in the front row while Kyle Eastmond starts at inside-centre.to complete Mike Ford’s changes
Meanwhile, John Afoa returns to Gloucester’s starting line-up as one of three changes to the side that started against Leicester last weekend.
Afoa will make his first appearance on 2016 having injured his calf against Harlequins in Big Game 8 at Twickenham on December 27. He replaces Paul Doran-Jones.
Other changes see Steve McColl move to the left wing from full-back to replace David Halaifonua, with Bath-born Billy Burns taking over the 15 jersey. And, in the second row, Mariano Galarza comes in for Jeremy Thrush.
Aside from the usual question of local bragging rights, both teams come into this game bristling at having squandered decent leads last weekend – Gloucester were 12-0 up at home to Tigers while Bath led 13-0 at Saracens at half-time before going down 13-19.
Bath Rugby have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions, their worst run since season 2011/12
The Black, Blue and Whites only victory in the last five rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby was 21-14 at home to Worcester on 27th December
Gloucester Rugby has won just one of their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters: 27-14 at home to London Irish on 2nd January while their only victory on the road in the tournament since early January 2015 was 39-27 at Newcastle in the opening round this campaign
Bath have won their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures against Gloucester since the Cherry and Whites 16-10 win at Kingsholm in October 2012
Gloucester have not been victorious at the Recreation Ground in the tournament since February 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bath: Dan Bowden
Dan Bowden, who made his Club debut last Saturday at inside centre, moves to fly-half and will fill the void of George Ford and Rhys Priestland, who are away on international duty. The way the Kiwi-born number 10 performs could potentially be the decisive factor to whether Bath get a desperately needed win or fall to yet another disappointing defeat.
Gloucester: Billy Twelvetrees
Billy Twelvetrees was on top form when Gloucester kicked off their campaign with an impressive away win against Newcastle, however, since then the centre and his team have struggled on their travels. Both teams need the win and the quality Twelvetrees possesses with his pin-point passing and intellergent running game could be critical in who leaves the Rec with the win on Friday night.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Alafoti Faosiliva, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Max Clark.
Gloucester: 15 Billy Burns, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Steve McColl, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Ross Moriarty.
Date: Friday, February 5
Venue: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson, Simon McConnell
TMO: Sean Davey