Leeds tackle Bath at Headingley
September 3, 2010
Director of rugby Andy Key and head coach Neil Back kept Leeds up last season and have set their sights higher this term © Getty Images
Leeds Carnegie entertain Bath at Headingley on Sunday with both sides looking to raise the bar this term.
The hosts defied the odds last season to cement their Premiership status in their first season back in the top flight and coach Neil Back has responded by setting a bold target of a top six finish this time around. Bath put their off-the-field woes behind them last season and surged into the play-offs where they saw their hopes dashed by old rivals Leicester. But some fresh faces - including new owner Bruce Craig and performance director Ian McGeechan - have strengthened their bid for Premiership glory this season.
Leeds Carnegie - Player to Watch: Dual code Fiji Test winger Semi Tadulala is on the wing for the hosts following an off-season switch from Gloucester. Can he find the scoring touch that made him a star in the 13-man game?
Leeds Carnegie - Team News: There are five new faces in the Leeds starting line-up including prop Miguel Alonso, centre Lachlan MacKay and former Bath duo No.8 Daniel Browne and fullback Michael Stephenson.
Bath - Player to Watch: With Butch James away on Springboks duty, fly-half Sam Vesty has the chance to make the No.10 shirt his own.
Bath - Team News: Luke Watson will be leading Bath out as club captain for the first time in the Aviva Premiership. New signings Simon Taylor, Lewis Moody and Sam Vesty make their first competitive starts for Bath.
Key Battle: The battle of the opensides may not be as intriguing under the latest directives but the match-up between Leeds' Hendre Fourie and Bath's Lewis Moody will still draw the eye.
Trivia: Leeds Carnegie have not won on the opening weekend of a Premiership season since they defeated Leicester 26-13 at Headingley Carnegie in 2002.
Stats: Bath have won their last five matches against Leeds in all competitions including a thumping 39-3 victory at The Rec back in May.
Odds: Think Bath are ready to reclaim the English crown? Bet365 have the west country giants at 9/2 to lift the sizeable Premiership silverware. Not that confident? How about a come-from-behind victory at 6-1?
"Although we have not won a game in pre-season, that is not the purpose of the programme that we put in place." - Leeds' director of rugby Andy Key
"We've had a worldwide directive from the IRB which says that defensive, rather than attacking, teams are going to be refereed at the breakdown. For the first time we've got a chance to play the game we want." - Bath director of rugby Ian McGeechan
Fantasy: This weekend marks the start of the ESPN Premiership Rugby Fantasy Game so we can't give you an insight on key performers just yet - but we will. Have you entered your team yet?
Prediction: Bath appear to have put in place the stepping stones that will take them back to the heady days of the club's history - starting with victory over Leeds.