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
Jonny Wilkinson is the face of Toulon but whisper it, they might be a better team without him. Paul Eddison examines the case for dropping the talisman
"It does sometimes get tough as you get older, but there's nothing else I'd rather do." Tom Hamilton talks to fly-half Dan Carter
Stingers, a rampaging Fijian and two Dannys looking to be champions of the world - Monday Maul looks at some key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring