James returns as Bath look to bounce back
March 31, 2009
Butch James will be back in the Bath No.10 shirt for the clash with Wasps at The Rec © Getty Images
The race for the Guinness Premiership play-offs will continue on Wednesday night with two matches re-arranged from Round 12.
London Wasps have made eight changes to their starting line up for their clash with Bath at The Rec - the second of three matches in seven days for the defending champions.
Lachlan Mitchell comes in on the wing for for Josh Lewsey while in the forward contingent a reshuffle of the front row sees the return of Tom French following recovery from injury. French comes into the side at loose head and Tim Payne starts at tight head, with Pat Barnard ruled out after a head injury at Vicarage Road forced him from the pitch on Sunday. Rob Webber takes a seat on the bench for this clash and Joe Ward completes the new look front row.
In the second row Richard Birkett will start in place of George Skivington who is named amongst the replacements and a completely new look back row sees Joe Worsley return to club colours alongside Serge Betsen, named as captain, and John Hart. A talented bench line-up features James Haskell and Tom Rees.
Butch James will return at fly-half for Bath after being rested for Friday's loss to Sale. The South African comes in for Ryan Davis in a backline that also sees the return of oustide centre Alex Crockett and wingers Joe Maddock and Matt Banahan. Crockett will link up with Shontayne Hape in midifield.
England hooker Lee Mears returns to the Bath line-up for his first start since the end of the Six Nations, and will be joined in the front-row by David Flatman and Duncan Bell. In the second-row, Stuart Hooper drops to the bench to allow a starting berth for Peter Short, while a foot injury to Daniel Browne means Jonny Fa'amatuainu will start at No.8 with Andy Beattie at blindside flanker. [Teams]
In the evening's other game, Worcester travel to The Stoop to take on Harlequins. The hosts, who have suffered only one defeat at home this season, welcome back their England trio of Danny Care and Ugo Monye, who start at scrum-half and on the wing respectively, and Nick Easter who starts on the bench.
Chris Malone will once again start at fly-half with Jordan Turner-Hall and Gonzalo Tiesi resuming their partnership in the centre, with Tom Williams taking his place on the wing. Mike Ross returns to the front row, teaming up once again with Ceri Jones and Tani Fuga, whilst in the second row Ollie Kohn comes in to partner Jim Evans, with Gary Botha, Mark Lambert and George Robson providing cover on the bench.
Worcester have handed full senior league debuts to five players with Michael Penn, Greg King, Jack Gilding, Shaun Ruwers and David Lyons all in the starting line-up for the first time. Warriors also welcome on loan Ross Davies on the replacements bench with the prop having signed for April from Sale Sharks.
The team will be captained by former Harlequins player Matt Powell at scrum-half. "The rationale underpinning selection is to enable us to negotiate three games in six days and that obviously means that a number of changes have to be made for this midweek game," said director of rugby Mike Ruddock. [Teams]
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham