Bath welcome fired-up Sarries
November 19, 2010
David Strettle returns to action for Saracens © Getty Images
Bath open the gates of the Recreation Ground to Saracens on Sunday with both sides in need of a pick-me-up.
Sarries were humbled by Exeter on their last outing and will be desperate for a return to winning ways in order to generate some momentum heading into Christmas, while Bath have faded after a promising start and need to haul themselves up from sixth.
A home tie against a side above them in the table beckons this weekend and Bath cannot afford to pass up the opportunity.
Bath - Player to Watch: David Flatman has beaten the impressive youngster Nathan Catt to the No.1 jersey in order to face his old club and will need to put in a big shift against a dynamic Sarries pack.
Bath - Team News: Sam Vesty returns at fly-half to link up with Olly Barkley and Michael Claassens, while in the back-row Ben Skirving and Andy Beattie deputise for Luke Watson and Lewis Moody, with Simon Taylor shifting to openside.
Saracens - Player to Watch: Owen Farell, son of league legend Andy, starts at fly-half ahead of Alex Goode, who is retained at fullback. The youngster has had precious little Premiership rugby and will hope for controlled display.
Saracens - Team News: Brad Barritt returns from injury ahead of schedule and slots in at inside-centre while Welsh prop Rhys Gill is back in action on the bench after a lengthy layoff with a knee problem.
Key Battle: Both sides have endured difficult patches recently and Saracens will bank on their pack doing a job up front. Bath need to lay down a marker at home and their forwards must refuse to be bullied on their home track.
Trivia: Saracens have won more lineouts than any other Premiership side this season, having plucked the ball out of the air on 95 occasions.
Stats: Bath have won only one of their last five Premiership fixtures - against Sale in round four.
"I have faith we can put that 80 minute performance together against a very strong Saracens pack. There is always a pressure on the forwards to deliver and make sure they do what they need to to make the game flow well and facilitate the Bath style of quick and dynamic rugby, but the guys are a strong unit so we shouldn't fear." - Bath forwards coach Martin Haag
"On the plus side, there were a number of youngsters out there who were exposed to what is a pretty tough atmosphere at Kingsholm and they will be all the better for it." - Sarries coach Mark McCall reflects on defeat to Gloucester - a game in which Farrell started
Fantasy: David Strettle has settled in quickly at Saracens and has been finding the try-line with regularity. Why not take a chance on him in ESPNscrum's Fantasy Rugby Game.
Prediction: Both sides have struggled in recent weeks and have plenty to play for, with home advantage set to swing this one for Bath.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown