Game of the Week - Bath v Harlequins
April 3, 2009
Nick Easter starts at No.8 for Harlequins after scoring a hat-trick in midweek © Getty Images
Dean Richards will demand no let-up in the standards that have underpinned Harlequins' concerted bid for Guinness Premiership title glory. Quins head to the Recreation Ground tomorrow for an appointment with third-placed Bath.
Quins have made six changes after their 60-14 demolition of Worcester in mid-week. After scoring a hat-trick of tries against the Warriors, Nick Easter returns at No.8, with Tom Guest starting on the bench. James Percival and George Robson reform their partnership in the second row and Gary Botha rejoins Ceri Jones and Mike Ross in the front row. Danny Care and Chris Jones start at halfback, while David Strettle and Ugo Monye are the options out wide.
Bath head coach Steve Meehan has named a strong team for a game that could determine his side's title hopes. The exciting back-three of Nick Abendanon, Joe Maddock and Matt Banahan is retained, with Alex Crockett leading the side in the absence on Michael Lipman. Butch James continues at fly-half after kicking his side to victory over Wasps in midweek.
"Everybody can see there is the opportunity to get into the play-offs," said Quins rugby director Richards. "I am not going to put pressure on the guys saying you have to finish in the play-offs, but I will say you have to put it in every week, you have to play to your potential. Providing you have the ambition to improve and the willingness to play with each other and to the highest level, then you will improve."
Bath: Nick Abendanon; Joe Maddock, Alex Crockett (capt), Shontayne Hape, Matt Banahan; Butch James, Scott Bemand; David Barnes, Lee Mears, Duncan Bell, Justin Harrison, Stuart Hooper, Andy Beattie, James Scaysbrook, Jonny Faamatuainu
Replacements: Rob Hawkins, Aaron Jarvis, Peter Short, Chris Goodman, Mike Baxter, Shaun Berne, Andrew Higgins
Harlquins: Mike Brown; David Strettle, Gonzalo Tiesi, De Wet Barry, Ugo Monye; Chris Malone, Danny Care; Ceri Jones, Gary Botha, Mike Ross, James Percival, George Robson, Chris Robshaw, Will Skinner, Nick Easter
Replacements: Tani Fuga, Mark Lambert, Jim Evans, Tom Guest, Andy Gomarsall, Waisea Luveniyali, Tom Williams
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape