Bath v Saracens preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups and stats for the Aviva Premiership clash
Bath host league leaders Saracens in the Aviva premiership on Friday night: 19:45 kick-off
Dave Attwood returns to the hosts starting XV for the first time since December
Sarries welcomes back wing Chris Ashton into the squad after he served his ten-week ban
Dave Attwood will make his first Bath Rugby appearance since December on Friday night when they take on Saracens in the AvivaPremiership at the Recreation Ground.
Attwood is partnered in the second row by Charlie Ewels, with the front row trio of Nathan Catt, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas continuing following the victory against Gloucester last time out. Amanaki Mafi returns to the starting line-up at number eight, flanked by Matt Garvey and Francois Louw.
Chris Cook and George Ford continue to pull the strings from the half-backs, as Ollie Devoto and Jonathan Joseph resume their midfield partnership.
Last weekend’s double try-scorer Semesa Rokoduguni – who has beaten the most defenders in the Premiership this season – starts on the right wing with Horacio Agulla on the left.
Meanwhile, following defeating Exeter Chiefs last weekend Sarries welcomes back wing Chris Ashton into the squad, with the England flyer named on the right wing after serving a ten-week suspension.
Ashton, who last played for Saracens in their European Rugby Champions Cup clash against Ulster in January, will line up in the Saracens back three alongside Alex Goode (full-back) and Duncan Taylor (left wing). Chris Wyles is rested.
Marcelo Bosch partners skipper Brad Barritt in the Saracens midfield, with Owen Farrell continuing at fly-half after a Man of the Match performance last weekend. Richard Wigglesworth starts at scrum-half with Neil De Kock named amongst the replacements.
Up front, Schalk Brits starts at hooker with Mako Vunipola (loosehead prop) and Petrus Du Plessis (tighthead prop) also named in the Saracens front row. At lock, England pair Maro Itoje and George Kruis will partner each other in the heart of the Saracens engine room.
Openside flanker Will Fraser continues in the back-row and joins Billy Vunipola (No8) and Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) to make up Saracens’ loose forward triumvirate.
Saracens have lost just one of their last dozen Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters with Bath
Mark McCall’s men returned to the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with their victory over Exeter Chiefs last time out
Bath have won their last two games at the Rec – against London Irish and Newcastle Falcons – but have yet to win three in a row at the venue this season
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bath: George Ford
Saracens: Owen Farrell
Bath: 15. Anthony Watson 14. Semesa Rokoduguni 13. Jonathan Joseph 12. Ollie Devoto 11. Horacio Agulla 10. George Ford 9. Chris Cook; 1. Nathan Catt 2. Rob Webber 3. Henry Thomas 4. Charlie Ewels 5. Dave Attwood 6. Matt Garvey 7. Francois Louw (c) 8. Amanaki MafiReplacements
16. Tom Dunn 17. Max Lahiff 18. David Wilson 19. Leroy Houston 20. David Denton 21. Guy Mercer 22. Will Homer 23. Rhys Priestland
Replacements 16 Jared Saunders 17 Richard Barrington 18 Titi Lamositele 19 Alistair Hargreaves 20 Kelly Brown 21 Neil De Kock 22 Mike Ellery 23 Ben Ransom